I once heard a chef saying when you make a pasta the pasta should be the hero of the dish, not the sauce. I love that school of thought so I always look to buy the best quality pasta. It is amazing what a difference it makes. The more expensive pasta is imported and is made with old, traditional copper machinery that leaves tiny ridges and indentations on the pasta. This allows the sauce to stick to it and flavour it properly. Pasta that is made in modern factories gets churned out through pipes and is smooth as a result so the sauce can't coat the pasta as well. Not just a (very) pretty face here at Jamie Who.
So with that in mind I went hunting for some high-quality pasta for a dinner I was making on Saturday. I found some spinach fettucine which I thought sounded interesting and would look amazing on a plate. It did. I used lamb on the bone and shredded it later which gives better flavour. It is a mission though, so if you want to just buy cubes of stewing lamb.
Stuff you'll need to feed four people:
- About 750g of stewing lamb
- A handful of carrots, finely chopped
- A handful of leeks, finely chopped
- A handful of celery, finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 tins of tomatoes
- One chilli, finely chopped
- 450g pasta of your choice
- 2 packs of dried chantarelle mushrooms (use any mushroom you like here)
- A handful of chopped chervil (or flat-leaf parsley)
- Pecorino cheese
Okay, what to do:
1. Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. In a large, deep dish add some olive oil and brown the lamb. Once it has some good colour, remove and set aside.
2. Gently fry the celery, carrot and leeks for a few minutes. Add the garlic, the chilli and the lamb and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes and about 4 cups of the water that the mushrooms were soaking in. Add the mushrooms.
3. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat way down and let it simmer for about 2 hours or until the sauce has reduced to a thick, rich consistency. If you are cooking lamb on the bone, remove, allow to cool, shred meat and add back into sauce.
4. When you are ready, cook the pasta in salted boiling water and drain. Now, I like to add the sauce to the pasta slowly, stirring it in as I go until I'm happy with the amount of sauce compared to the pasta. When you get the right vibe, add the chopped chervil and place in deep bowls. Garnish with pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler.
Now, "they" say you should use short pasta like penne or fusilli for a meaty sauce and longer pasta like linguine or tagliatelle for a smoother, elegant sauce. I think you should just use what feels right and what will look good on a plate. As I said earlier, if you buy the expensive pasta, it should all taste pretty good.