MINT FAZZOLETTI lamb bolo, aleppo, whipped ricotta
This rich lamb sauce is a riff on the classic bolognese, only as if it had been schooled throughout the mediterranean: the classic affinity between lamb and mint; subtle spicing and aroma from cumin, fennel pollen and coriander; and the tangy warmth of the aleppo pepper are all showcased here. It would not be gilding the lily to substitute a dab of yogurt for the ricotta to extend the theme.
This dish is great for entertaining a lot of guests and has been presented as such here. The recipe can easily be scaled down if you like, but I find large batches are the way to go with time consuming dishes such as this. The bolo and pasta both freeze very well for future use.
1/4 c olive oil
3.5 lbs ground lamb
1 c carrot, finely diced (2 small to medium)
1 c celery, finely diced (3-4 ribs)
2 c spanish/yellow onion, finely diced (1.5 medium or 1 large )
4 tbsp tomato conserva or tomato paste
2.5 c red wine
2.5 c canned cherry tomatoes (deseeded and pureed, optional)
1.5 c whole milk
5 c chicken stock
5 bay leaves
2 tsp corriander, toasted and ground
1 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
3/4 tsp fennel pollen
1 tsp fennel seed, toasted and ground
2 tsp aleppo chillies
4 dried calabrian chilies, minced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped approx
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
To Finishmint fazzoletti
reserved pasta water
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c milk or cream
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c chopped fresh mint
1 c whipped ricotta
Heat the olive oil in large wide bottom stew pot or small rondeau over medium high heat. Just before the oil starts to smoke turn the heat to high and add the lamb breaking it into small pieces as you add it to the pan. Let the meat brown in the pan untouched for about 5 minutes and then begin breaking it apart further with the edge of a wooden spoon and loosening it from the bottom of the pan if any has stuck. The lamb will begin to release it’s liquid and oil into the pan. DO NOT REMOVE. Cook until there is no more pink remaining, the lamb has started to brown and the liquid has reduced somewhat (another 5 to 10 minutes).
Add the trinity vegetables (carrots, onion and celery) to the pot and mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally while scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen stuck bits, until the vegetables start to soften. About 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir into the meat and vegetable mixture. Continue to cook and stir together until the paste is fully incorporated and the mixture becomes a thick reddish color, about 3 minutes.
Add the milk to the pot and stir to incorporate. Continue to make sure no bits of meat or vegetables are sticking to the bottom or sides. Use a wooden spoon or rubber/silicon spatula to scrape down the sides to prevent bits from burning and potentially imparting the off flavor to the bolognese. Cook, stirring and scraping occasionally, until the milk has seemingly disappeared into the meat and vegetable mixture. About 8 minutes.
Add the red wine and stir into the mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally until the wine has reduced significantly and has almost disappeared into the meat, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and chicken stock/broth to the pot along with the bay leaves, spice mixture, aleppo, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary. Add the salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate and scrape down the sides of the pot again. Bring the mixture to a low boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low to keep the bolognese cooking at a lazy bubble. Cook, uncovered, until most of the excess liquid has evaporated and it begins to look like a thick sauce. This should take about 2 hours. Continue scraping the sides and bottom of the pot regularly to avoid burning and scorching. The sauce will take on a dark orange color as it cooks and when it’s done the mixture should look thick, and lovely. Taste for seasoning and adjust the salt to your liking. If the lamb has released significant oil into the sauce you can laddle some away, but not too much as fat = flavor!
To finish the dish: Cook the fazzoletti in salted, boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 c of pasta water. Add the water and milk to the sauce and turn the heat up on the sauce and bring to a boil. Add the pasta along with several tablespoons of olive oil, the parmesan or pecorino cheese and the chopped mint/parsley. Stir together over the heat for a minute or two until everything comes together and the sauce looks smooth. Remove the pot from the heat, ladle the pasta and sauce into bowls, and top with a spoonful of the ricotta as well as some mint and/or allepo for garnish. If you are unable to cook all the pasta in one batch. Assemble in batches by adding the cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl add the appropriate proportion of oil, cheese and chopped mint and sauce. Stir / toss to incorporate.