Much Ado About Stuffing

Much Ado About Stuffing

Today is a good day to make a hearty pasta dinner. Lamb, Porcini, and Sausage Ragù

Continuing on the theme of the last posting, for Split Pea soup: another stick-to-your-ribs (your waist, your abdomen, your upper thighs…)
But, really, in this cold snowy month, you have to  make those heavy, delicious dishes that are simply too heavy the rest of the year.
This dish goes very well with a 20 Powder Run Day. Also a rough red wine, a salad, and a light dessert.

Every Italian Momma has a recipe, but the basics are constant:  it starts with meat (beef, pork, veal, duck, even boar) and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes and onions, all cooked in wine and broth. Any many aromatic herbs.
When you think of it, its quite like a Jewish Brisket, except the meats are chopped up first in a Ragù. Like a brisket, it needs time to cook slowly, its not a quickie pasta supper.
Ragù is most often served over pasta.
This recipe includes dried porcini mushrooms, which give the sauce a real taste of the Tuscan countryside.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 cup water
1 ounce dried mushrooms, porcini, chanterelles. morels, whatever

1/4 cup  olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 carrot chopped fairly fine
good handful chopped fresh Italian parsley
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

5 or 6 sun-dried tomatoes
8 ounces Italian sausages
8 ounces ground lamb
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 qt chicken stock

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
4-5 leaves chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

1 pound pasta, fresh pappardelle, or orichette, something that will catch and absorb the sauce.

Bring 1 cup water and mushrooms to boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes. Strain soaking liquid into bowl. Coarsely chop mushrooms. Reserve

  • Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Slice or chunk sausages, removing any casings.
  • Cook until brown, breaking up with back of fork, 5 minutes or so,
  • Add lamb sauté until brown, about 5 minutes.
  • If you feel there is a lot of grease in the pan, pour some off or dump the contents into a strainer in the sink, and drain. Return to the pan.
  • Add onion, carrot, 1/4 cup parsley and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add wine. Increase heat to high and boil until wine is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup chicken broth; boil 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add reserved mushroom liquid. Simmer until liquid is almost absorbed, about 5 minutes.

(if you like a finer, smoother sauce, you can now put this in a food processor and pulse five or six times. Personally, I prefer it chunky)

  •  Mix in tomatoes with juices, bay leaves, sage, fennel seeds and porcini mushrooms. Reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens, breaking up tomatoes with fork, adding remaining chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time and stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Can do ahead, in fact it definitely improves on sitting

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Add sauce to pasta pot and rewarm over medium heat. Add pasta and toss to combine. Transfer to bowl.
Sprinkle with more parsley


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