March 23, 2011 | Pasta & Pizza, Sauces
My husband accuses me sometimes of getting weird with food – combining too many unusual ingredients together for his taste. Personally, though, I like to take a risk, try new things, see what works and what doesn’t. Rarely do I think it’s so bad I toss it, and usually I surprise myself by loving it – like this ragu sauce.Because I bought a whole lamb and a half hog from my farm (along with bison and grass fed beef from Colorado ranchers), I have alot of ground meat. I get tired of making burgers and meatloaf. And although I’ve made some interesting dishes with the ground meat, I hadn’t tackled a ragu since my Bolognese sauce last year. With a little inspiration from Giada, I set off to make a new style of ragu sauce.Start by browning some onions in some fat, then added minced garlic and the two ground meats. Cook until browned and then drain off any excess fatReturn the meat and onions to the skillet and stir in some creamy ricotta cheese……and some mascarpone cheese.Some people define mascarpone cheese as an Italian cream cheese. It’s true that it’s Italian, but I think it’s different. Mascarpone (pronounced, mas-car-POH-nay, not mar-scu-pone) has a slightly creamier texture than traditional cream cheese, and is less tangy. I think of it like a much thicker creme fraiche in taste and texture. And it melts beautifully into sauces.Finally stir in some marinara sauce and toss with the pasta. Up until this point my husband was with me – a meat ragu in a pink sauce wasn’t too strange for him.But what really makes this dish special is the mint. It’s a wonderful complement to the lamb, I’m sure you can guess. But it might surprise you how well it goes with the sauce. I had dried mint from my garden last year, but you can use dried or fresh. Either stir it into the sauce, or sprinkle on top as a garnish. Season to taste with salt and pepper and you’re good to go!
Penne with Lamb and Pork Ragu
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
2 cups marinara sauce
1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente and drained
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon dried mint flakes (or 1/4 cup fresh, minced)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until slightly softened. Add garlic, lamb, and pork and continue to cook, breaking meat apart with a spoon, until meat is browned. Drain any excess fat and return to the pan. Add ricotta and mascarpone cheeses and stir until melted into the meat. Add marinara sauce and heat until just simmering. Add pasta to the sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes together for pasta to absorb the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Either stir mint into paste or sprinkle over the top as a garnish.