For Tuscany, 2006 is an outstanding vintage, producing racy, rich wines. We asked New York chef Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde at the Greenwich Hotel for a recipe that would pair well with the region's Sangiovese-based reds, especially with the Chianti Classicos that are showing so well right now. He gave us a dish that, like much of his cooking, has traditional depth and modern sophistication. Come to think of it, that could describe a number of these wines, too.
Pappardelle With Lamb Ragù, Mint and Pecorino
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
11/2 pounds ground lamb (preferably shoulder)
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon tomato paste
11/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup imported canned cherry tomatoes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1⁄4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound fresh pappardelle
1 tablespoon butter
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh mint
1⁄4 cup grated pecorino
1. Heat 1⁄4 cup olive oil in a large stewpot over high heat. Break the lamb into small bits, add it to the pot, and brown. (If you don't have a pot large enough to fit all the meat at once, brown it in a large saucepan first, then transfer to a stewpot.) If the lamb gives off a lot of liquid, drain it off and continue to brown.
2. Add the carrots, onions and celery, and stir together. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stirring, and cook for another minute. Add the red wine, stirring, and cook until it evaporates completely. Scrape off any bits that are sticking to the pot to prevent them from burning.
3. Add the canned tomatoes, broth and all the seasonings. Reduce the heat to medium-low to cook at a simmer. Continue scraping the sides and bottom of the pot at regular intervals to avoid burning. Simmer for about 11⁄2 hours, or until most of the liquid evaporates. The meat should turn dark brown. The liquid should turn dark orange in color first, then thicken into a dark brown, textured sauce.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pappardelle, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. (If using dried pasta, follow the instructions on the packaging.) Drain, and transfer the pasta to the ragù pot. Add the butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and stir together over medium heat. Just before serving, add the mint and pecorino. Serves 4 to 6.