12-2-2010 ok, couldn't find the right pasta and substituted for the cardomom
By Emma Hearst
When it comes to feeding men or anyone who knows how to eat you have to respect the meat-and-potatoes appetite, even when the meal isn't exactly meat. Or potatoes. I put this sauce together out of things I had on hand: part luck, part learning. It's a traditional Bolognese sauce right up to the moment you drop in the orange. Juice alone wouldn't have enough citrus power to cut through the richness of the lamb it's the essential oils from the rind that create a sweet undercurrent in the sauce. When you have a sauce this rich and complex, you want a flat noodle that provides some surface cling. A round noodle won't grip the sauce, and the best part of the meal will slip away.
* ½ lb pancetta, diced small
* 1 yellow onion, diced small
* 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
* 2 stalks celery, diced small
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* >2 lbs ground lamb
* 6 oz tomato paste
* 1 cup dry white wine
* 1 cup whole milk
* 3 tbsp fennel seed
* 2 tbsp ground cardamom
* 1 orange, quartered
* coarse salt
* 1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
* 1 ½ cups roughly chopped unsalted pistachios (about 3 cups in shell)
* 2 tbsp unsalted butter
* 2 lbs thin hand-cut fresh pasta, like tagliarini or tagliatelle
* 1 ½ cups ricotta mixed with 1 tbsp ground black pepper
In a large pot over moderate heat, render pancetta slightly with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. (Do not brown.) When pancetta is translucent, about 8 minutes, add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Lower heat and sweat until vegetables are translucent and soft, about 12 minutes. (Do not brown.)
Add lamb and cook, working it with a wooden spoon so all the meat touches the cooking surface, until it loses its pink color, about 12 minutes.
Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it turns rust colored, 3 to 5 minutes. Add up to ½ cup water and stir to loosen tomato paste so it doesn't burn. Add wine and simmer 2 minutes, stirring and scraping the pot with the wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits of meat. Add milk, fennel seed, cardamom, orange, and 1 tbsp salt. Stir to combine.
Cover and barely simmer over extremely low heat until flavors are well blended, about 1 ½ hours. (Use the lowest possible heat source to avoid scorching and stir frequently to avoid sticking.) Skim off fat and discard, remove orange, and season with salt to taste.
Stir in mint and pistachios and add ½ cup to 1 cup water to thin ragu slightly. Cook pasta according to package directions, but when noodles are about 1 minute from being finished (still a little sticky to the touch), transfer pasta to sauce to finish cooking. Add butter and reduce until sauce clings to pasta. Use tongs to toss noodles in sauce until coated. Salt to taste.
Transfer to serving bowls and top with dollops of black-pepper ricotta.
Serves 6 as a first course.
Emma Hearst is the chef of Sorella in New York City.
As told to Francine Maroukian
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