Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reggaeton Ragu Rigatoni

The Wall Street Journal weekend edition's food section has been killing it lately. They've got everyone mixed in, including Mr Joe Beef himself, Frederic Morin. Anyhow, this weekend (March 31 - April 1) they did an article called 'Rock of Lamb'. They had Frederic, David McMillan, Mission Chinese, Ana Sortan of Oleana and Brad Spence of Amis in Philly go out on the lamb. I decided to take Brad Spence's Rigatoni with Lamb Ragu and Mint for a spin. And because I don't yet have to uphold myself to WSJ's journalistic rigor, I just re-titled the dish after the music I was listening to at the time (J. Alvarez's El Dueno Del Sistema).

So here's how it's done.

2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder (or leg)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup canned whole tomatoes
2 cups dry red wine
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind
2 sprigs rosemary
1 pound rigatoni
4 tablespoons fresh mint
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

I went to Graham Avenue Meats. Was about to go with the shoulder until main dude with the perfect hair came out and recommended the leg if I wanted the meat to be falling off the bone by the end. Seeold my friend!

Cut lamb into 4 pieces, and season well with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, then shake off excess.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sear the lamb in oil until dark golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove lamb from the heat and reserve.

Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the pot. Cook until lightly caramelized, 7-10 minutes. Scrape up any bits of lamb stuck to bottom of pot. Add tomatoes, and cook another 4 minutes.

Turn the heat to high, add wine and boil until reduced by half. Add 2.5 cups of water, then reduce another 5 minutes.

Turn heat to low, add the Parmesan rind and rosemary. Nestle the meat in sauce.

Simmer until the meat is tender, 2.5-3 hours (go with 3). Remove the Parmesan rind and rosemary. Remove the meat to a plate and shred apart with a fork. Return shredded meat to sauce.

Cook the rigatoni in salted water 1 minute less than package instructions suggest. Drain well and add to sauce, stirring to coat for about a minute, until the sauce clings to pasta slightly.

Just before serving, stir in mint, butter and half of the grated Parmesan.

Plate on a large, warm platter and top with remaining Parmesan.

Its hard to tell whether the meal would have been the same without my boy J. Alvarez. But he certainly didn't hurt the vibes.

One time at a pizza joint I heard some drunk lady with a voluminous voice proclaim, "Cigarettes kill, and SO DO I!" On top of her sense of humility, she forgot rigatoni with ragu and mint.


  1. This is a riot! A lot of people mistake 'Reggaeton' for 'rigatoni' so it's cool how you combined the two things to make them related. I like reggaeton music and the ingredients in this recipe sound like a good dish to make. I'll have to try it sometime!