Mint Tagliatelle with Lamb and Olives

Ah, l’amouuurrrr. 😛

John and I try with all our might not to go out on Valentine’s day. It’s just crazy! Plus, our anniversary is the month before, Christmas the month before that, and our birthdays are just a week after this lovey holiday. Therefore, it all just gets to be too much. So, since we first started dating, John and I have stayed in and cooked for Valentine’s day. Our first one, he cooked for me– chicken piccata and mushroom risotto. Amazing. I knew I had a keeper, haha.

So this year, we turned on our record player, jammed some Beatles and Hall & Oates, and made Mario Batali’s Mint Tagliatelle with Mint and Olives, from The Babbo Cookbook.

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For the sauce:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lb lamb shoulder, cut into 1 in chunks
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely cut
  • 1 onion, finely cut
  • 1 celery stalk, finely cut
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch thyme, leaves left on stem (I used dried, just did it by sight)
  • 2 cups dry red wine (Cab Sav for me)
  • 1 16-oz can tomatoes, crushed by hand, plus their juices
  • ¼ lb arbequina or other olives, pitted (I used kalamata)
  • Parmesan cheese for garnishing

For the pasta:

  • 3 ½-4 cups all purpose flour (I did half and half of all purpose and semolina flours)
  • 4 extra large eggs (I only had large so I did five eggs)
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup mint leaves

For the pasta:

I made the dough hours before I started the sauce. Once you made your dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and it will keep until you’re ready to roll/cut it and cook it. In this case, I used a pasta maker (which I bought for cheap at TJ Max) but you can hand roll pasta. Just look for youtube videos!

1. Bring 3 quarts water to boil. Place a bowl filled with water and ice nearby.

2. Plunge 1 cup of mint leaves into boiling water and blanch for 45 seconds. Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon and immerse in ice water.

3. When cool, remove from water, squeeze in a towel to dry, and place in the bowl of a food processor. Puree into a fine paste (mine never turned quite into a paste, so my pasta was more speckled than pure green, but it still tasted delish).

4. In a bowl, combine the mint puree and eggs, and stir well to combine.

The next steps are to make pasta by hand. I made my pasta dough in my food processor. With my dough blade on, I turned on my processor with the flour inside and slowly added the wet ingredients. When it formed a solid mass, I poured the dough out and started with step 8. 

5. Mound 3 ½ cups of flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour, and add the eggs and the olive oil (remember, the mint is in the eggs at this point). Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil, then begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.

6. As you expand the well, keep pushing flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well’s shape. The dough will come together when half of the flour has been incorporated.

7. Start kneading the dough with the heels of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits.

8. Lightly reflour the board, and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky (mine wasn’t sticky, so I added the tiniest bit of water).

9. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling or shaping as desired.

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1. In a large, heavy-bottomed casserole or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season the lamb chunks with salt and pepper, and add to the pan, working in batches if necessary to avoid over crowding the pan. Sear the meat on all sides to a dark golden brown. Once the meat is well browned, remove to a plate and set aside.

2. Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium high heat until the vegetables are tender and browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in red wine and tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Bring to a boil and return the meat to the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over low heat, covered, for 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is extremely tender.

3. Remove the heat from the pan and, when it is cool enough to handle, shred with a fork. Return it to the pan, add the olives, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. The mixture should be a thick ragu. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

4. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender yet al dente, about 1 minute. (Mine took a bit longer than that. I just taste the pasta every so often to see when it’s at the texture I like.) Drain the pasta, add it to the ragu, and toss over high heat for another minute more.

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5. Divide and garnish with parm!

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