“Le cose buone non si fanno mai in fretta,” is an Italian proverb meaning, “You can’t rush a good thing.” That saying is especially fitting in the case of this rich, hearty lamb recipe, popular in southern Italy where lamb and goat dishes are common. Although it may be a bit time-consuming, this dish is easy to prepare and the time investment is definitely worth the scrumptious results.
Lagane (or laganelle) is a type of homemade pasta that dates back to antiquity and is used primarily in Basilicata, Campania, Calabria and Puglia. Until recently few cooks outside of the regions knew how to prepare it. At first glance it resembles tagliatelle or fettuccine, but lagane are flatter, thinner, and of varying lengths.
Note that the lamb must marinate overnight.
For the pasta:
1 cup durum flour, plus extra for work surface
1 large egg
For the marinade:
9 ounces boneless lamb leg or shoulder meat
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic
5 fresh bay leaves, or 1 dry
2 ½ cups red wine, divided
2 tablespoons flour
For the ragu:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons diced onion
3 tablespoons diced carrot
3 tablespoons diced celery
1 tablespoon porcini mushrooms, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, drained, and chopped
1/3 cup Tomato Sauce (page 340)
4 cups Beef Stock (page 343)
To make lamb marinade (one day in advance), with a sharp knife, cut the lamb into 1-inch cubes and place in a bowl with the rosemary, thyme, garlic and bay leaves.
Add wine to reach just below the covering point. Stir, cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, drain and reserve the marinade, discarding bay leaves.
Place the meat on a plate and sprinkle with flour. Turn to coat well.
To make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion, carrot and celery and stir. Sauté until vegetables are tender and slightly golden.
Add the floured lamb cubes, pressing down lightly so that they brown evenly on all sides. Once the lamb begins to attach to the bottom of the pan, add the reserved marinade and cook until it evaporates. Add the porcini mushrooms, tomato sauce, and stir well.
Cover the lamb with some of broth and stir. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 1 ½ hours, stirring about every 15 minutes.
Carefully remove the lid and stir from time to time, adding more broth as it cooks down. You should always have about ½ inch of broth covering the lamb.
The sauce is ready when it is highly aromatic and thickened, yet still quite fluid. Salt to taste.
For the lagane
Combine the flour, egg and a teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.
Mix well to form dough. Knead dough in the bowl until it is soft and smooth.
Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and flatten out the dough. Run it through the pasta machine 4 times on the largest setting, 2 to 3 pieces at a time.
On a lightly-floured work surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/16-inch thick. With a sharp knife or pasta cutter, slice lengthwise strips of varying lengths, 5-inches to 6-inches long, and about ¼-inch wide. Set aside.
Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface making it into an oblong shape about 12-inches long. Feed the dough through the pasta machine set on the widest setting. Repeat 3 times.
Fold the dough in half and coat with flour on each side. Feed the dough through the pasta machine about 7 times or until it reaches a thickness of 1/20 inch.
Note that lagane are very flat and thin, more so than most commonly used pasta.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Fold the dough over itself in equally spaced quarter folds.
With a knife, cut large strips the width of fettucine, or about ¼ inch wide. Then cut those pieces into about 4-inch lengths.
Lagane pasta is intended to be irregular in length in this recipe so there’s no need to make the strips uniform. (If you intend to serve them with a sauce, however, make them a uniform 8 inches long.) Set aside.
As soon as the mixture boils, add the lagane and cook until al dente, or about 4 minutes.
Toss lagane in the ragu to coat. Plate and allow the dish sit for a few minutes before serving.
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