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#Lamb (or beef) bolognese/ragu

This takes an hour or a little more to make. The longer you take to make it, the better it will be. You can compress the recipe if need be. It does very well as a leftover so feel free to make a lot

So I don't do much measuring in cooking but usually recipes are kind of pinned to "proportions". The main proportion thing for this recipe is:

0.5 to 1 pound of meat for 1 full can of tomato sauce, and maybe 1/2 pound of pasta or less (1/3 pound), depending on how much sauce you like.

The ingredients are, in order of use:

  • Butter and olive oil
  • 1 Small yellow onion or 2 shallots
  • As much garlic as you want (1-6 cloves)
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 or more bay leaves
  • Salt and lots of it
  • 1/2 lb of meat cut into small bits. I prefer ground lamb.
  • GOOD mustard, nutmeg, cumin, and some kind of heating pepper such as Aleppo pepper, Maras Chili, Kurdish Black chili, whatever you like really
  • Chicken stock and red wine, maybe 1/2 cup to 1 cup of each but there is a lot of leeway.
  • 1/2 pound or 1/3 pound pasta of your choice. I prefer egg noodles.

Get the largest frying pan you have and add 1-2 tbsp of butter and a little olive oil over medium heat. You'll also need a pasta pot which you might as well get out at this stage.

Chop the onion, garlic, and carrot into small pieces and add along with the bay leaves. (Some people add bay leaves much later in sauce and soup making but I swear it makes a difference to add earlier).

Add lots of coarse salt. I don't know about you but the #1 my friends do wrong in their cooking is add not nearly enough salt. While I cook, I'm continually adding small amounts of both butter and olive oil. My final dish might be 3-4 tablespoons of butter. Less olive oil but using both does make a difference in taste and feel.

Cook slowly until softened, maybe 10-15 minutes. Chop up your meat and add it to the pan, continue cooking uncovered.

MEANWHILE boil water for your pasta. People say use a lot of water in pasta making but I HIGHLY DISAGREE, I think the less water you can get away with the better, just enough to barely cover all the pasta, and lots of salt in the pasta water. It should be like the ocean.

Add a spoonful of mustard, a very small amount of nutmeg (if you have a nutmet grinder just crack it a few turns) and a smaller amount of cumin (like a half teaspoon). The dish should never taste like nutmeg or cumin, but it rounds it out really well and since you can't tell, its what gives the dish the nebulous "a lot of flavor".

Stir and brown the meat. Once its all brown, add a little wine and let it reduce. Then add a little chicken stock, same thing. Cooking uncovered the whole time. You want most of the water to go away. This part takes a while but is essential for the flavor.

Total cooking time so far might be 30-40 minutes. The leeway comes from this part. If you added lots of stock or wine and it is too watery, just keep letting it cook.

Once some of the water is gone, add the tomato sauce and stir quite a bit. Slowly let this reduce for 10-20 more minutes. If you feel like it is getting too thick that's OK because of the next step:

Undercook the pasta by 1-2 minutes and drain it but keep some of the water, 1/2 cup to 1 cup. This starchy water will contribute to the mouthfeel of the sauce so add the pasta and this water into your giant frying pan.

What you have right now may or may not be "too watery", if it is, you simply cook on medium or lowish heat, stirring often, until its the thickness you desire, 10-20 more minutes.

You never cover the sauce.

During this final cooking time, you can shave some parmesan into the sauce for a better flavor (parmesan is basically a natural block of MSG, protein, and fat, how could it not improve the flavor?) If you don't have parm but have milk or heavy cream, you can add a splash.

Taste for saltiness. Add more salt if it needs it. Also as I said before while I cook, I'm continually adding small amounts of both butter and olive oil so feel free to add more here.

Finally you can turn it off and serve. Once its on the plate, add a few dollops of cold ricotta to the top.

The sauce/dish should be thick enough that you can get 95% of the food weight off your plate with just a fork. If its soupy you may need to cook longer. Some people like thinner sauces though so who's to judge.

I wrote this from memory so I may be forgetting something, but I think that's it.

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