Home is where the lamb ragù is

March 31, 2010

Fettucine with Lamb Ragù and Ricotta

We’ve been living in our house for just shy of two years now. Having been foreclosed on and neglected for over a year, it was (and still is) in disrepair. It’s our 75 year old baby. It demands lots of love and attention and patience and savings. It’s been the cause of many moments of bickering (we’re both relatively new to this home improvement gig and, thus, feel entitled to our own very strong opinions), hours of waiting for paint to dry, and too many trips to Home Depot ten minutes before closing. It’s the reason I can recite more of Behr’s color palate than I wish to admit, carry paint swatches around in my purse, and drive Kyle crazy with my shade, tone and hue indecisiveness. Me: But don’t you think Rocky Mountain Sky is a bit more grey than Himalayan Mist and would work best in the master? Kyle: Sure sounds good, honey (read: I don’t really give a damn, they’re both mountains to me. Please just pick one). This baby of ours is the reason I’ve cried at three o’clock in the morning when the bathroom doorknob jams, shown up to work with primer and Cliff Rock in my hair, and slept with lights on when Kyle’s away because of weird nighttime creaks. But I wouldn’t take back a single sleepless night or trade a single second we’ve spent tending to this house for anything. Because at the end of the day, this house is our home regardless of all the trim that needs painted or the basement that needs waterproofing or the garage that needs rebuilt. I really love this place, our home.

This past weekend we were hit with a bout of “get’er done”. After a couple months of housework slacking (hey, it was winter after all), we were ready once again to don paint splattered pants and ball caps, blast Ok Go and cross a few more chores off the (exhaustively long) to-do list. Working in separate corners of the house (we’ve discovered this works best for keeping unnecessary opinions to ourselves) we taped, primed, painted, caulked, wired and replaced. On Sunday evening, after calling it a day, we were reminded of the “housework aches”, the stiff lower back, the throbbing calves, the sore neck. Proof that we’d put in some solid hours of real gosh darn work and were deserving of a big steaming bowl of pasta (and glass of red wine). You know I’m excited about a recipe if I choose to cook after a long day of inhaling paint fumes. This did not disappoint.

It wasn’t until around this time last year that we really started cooking lamb. We’re hooked. Lamb chops, lamb kebabs, lamb sliders and now, lamb ragù. Because I have this phobia of cooking large pieces of meat and don’t plan to prepare a rack of lamb for Easter, I figured lamb ragù was the next best thing. If you like lamb, this is a great alternative to ground beef. If you’re on the fence about lamb, this might just convert you into a lamb lover. And if you’re certain you don’t like lamb, well, that’s too bad for you and more lamb for us! Sorry, I meant to say you can substitute your ground meat of choice for the lamb. I think ground beef would work just fine.

If you’re tempted to skip the fresh ricotta and mint, don’t! They make the dish.

Fettucini with Lamb Ragù and Ricotta

(Adapted from Food & Wine)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound fettucini
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 3 T chopped fresh mint

In a large cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add the lamb, coriander, fennel, cumin, rosemary and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the stock and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, 25 to 30 minutes. Check for seasonings.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, shaking well. Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the butter and toss over low heat. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with the ricotta and mint.

Serves 4-6.

  1. Estela @ Weekly Bite

    March 31, 2010 at 7:23 am

    This looks incredible! I love lamb! I can’t say I’ve had ground lamb before.

    I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  2. Cathy Lamanna

    March 31, 2010 at 8:58 am

    YUmmmm..this sounds great. Will just be the 2 of for Easter dinner–this may be it..(so i wont have to make a rack of lamb!)..thanks

  3. Stephanie

    March 31, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Awww. Reading that post makes me miss my house. I’m sad I never got to see yours in the flesh! Yay for old homes though and yay for food and memories.

  4. Becky

    March 31, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I have never tried lamb! This might be a good way to try :)

  5. Katie @ Cozydelicious

    March 31, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    This ragu looks so wonderful. The sprinkle of mint on top is such a great touch! We just made yummy lamb kebabs with tzaziki last weekend. I may have to buy some more lamb and make this. Yum!

  6. chocolate shavings

    April 1, 2010 at 11:06 am

    That photo is absolutely gorgeous and the lamb ragu sounds delicious in that pasta dish!

  7. redmenace

    April 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Man! I know the feeling. We are constantly doing improvements to the house. It’s never ending. Thankfully, we live just 3 blocks from the Depot! And, seriously, you’re amazing. I can’t even imagine cooking after a long day of working on the house. Nice work. Looks awesome!

  8. M.

    April 3, 2010 at 11:12 am

    This recipe sounds delicious……
    beautiful set of photos…. and I’m sorry there won’t be even more lamb for you because I LOVE it too. :)
    Happy Easter.

  9. Laura

    April 3, 2010 at 4:39 pm


  10. Cathy

    June 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    We had lamb burgers tonite–we liked them better than beef!..I put in shallots and marjoram and worcestershire along with salt and pepper–they were delicious….served them on buns with arugula and chile sauce or tazjiki sauce–your pick—so good. Thanks for making me adventurous!!!

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