DECEMBER 14 2011


Usually, a recipe that starts with "Day 1" doesn't get more than a quick glance. "That can't be worth the hassle." But not today! I brought this upon myself and am attacking it with vigor. I really do appreciate the Frankies rational for making this pasta dish a multi-day slog.
"We like a two-day braise for two reasons: it's a mellower schedule to cook on, and if you fully chill down the braising liquid, it is easier to degrease it completely and replace the cooked fat with fresher fat, like olive oil or butter, which is better tasting and easier to eat."
Okay, okay... that all makes sense. And I did love that today I could do the 45 minute roast and 2 hour braise, then let it all cool down and shove it in the fridge to be dealt with later.

The lovely lamb shoulders I am roasting are from a little guy raised in Eastern Oregon by my very own mother and butchered by friends (and tomorrow's dinner guests) earlier in the year. This is the very essence of farm to table so I feel pretty good about this meal.

lamb + heat = magic

While the lamb roasts, I saute the mirepoix 20 minutes until shrunken and browned. As the aromas of the roasting lamb and sizzling veggies start to mingle around me, I really get excited about this meal. It smells so. damn. good!

mirepoix : before & after

After 45 minutes in the oven, the lamb is nestled into a pot with the browned veggies, crushed tomatoes (garden tomatoes from the freezer), beef stock (reserved from my earlier stock experiment) and a bunch's worth of parsley stems. This all goes back into the oven for a low and slow 2 hour braise.

this smells amazing.

Smells fantastic in here! After everything cools a bit, I strain the stock, tossing the spent veggies, and shred the meat off the bones. When it's all in the fridge, I head downstairs to watch Dexter and enjoy a gin & tonic.

DECEMBER 15 2011


Today is the day! I've already done most of the work... just have to reheat everything, toss a few more ingredients into the sauce and (gulp) make the pasta. As soon as I get home from work, I mix up the pasta dough so it can rest in the fridge for a few hours. Immediately I can tell this dough is working out better than my last batch. It seems softer, more elastic. I also learned a few lessons last time about the rolling process, so hopefully it isn't quite as painful.

I set up my mise en place so I can work quickly once it's dinner time. Then watch last night's episode of Top Chef to get in the zone! Not really. I just like that show :)

About half an hour before dinnertime, I start rolling out the pasta dough. This recipe calls for tagliatelle, which are hand-cut, half-inch wide noodles. So for now, I just roll all the dough out into long sheets. One important lesson from last time - roll out small sections of dough to keep the final, thin lengths somewhat manageable.

Another tip, get a little help from your friends. I put them to work cutting up the pasta while I finished the sauce. Thanks, friends!

cutting out the tagliatelle

Fresh noodles cook super fast, so once they were all cut we were only minutes away from dinner. The noodles are first cooked in salted water, then dumped into the sauce for the final minute to soak up all the goodness. In the past, my fresh pasta has always come out really soft so I was worried these wouldn't stand up to the heavy ragu. But, no need to worry. They were perfect!

big ol' pot of ragu

Man, that's a lotta ragu! The Frankies seem to think we are all piggies, cause the portions are wayyy off. This is supposed to be 8 servings. Seems like it would feed a small army. In fact, the 8 of us only took down about 2/3 of the pot.

Hot damn, this is good! The sauce is light, almost sweet, very herbal. Melds perfectly with the rich lamb and the surprisingly sturdy noodles. I slurp down a huge bowlful. Paired with a Frankies inspired green salad and roasted carrots, this is a mighty fine meal. And there's plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

hot damn!

Was it worth the multi-day effort? I think so. The work was divided well so neither day was overwhelming. The hardest part is actually the pasta, so next time I probably won't bother making it fresh. Just braise the lamb over the weekend, then bust it out any day that week for a quick, easy meal. Would be excellent over polenta as well. Yumm!

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