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Agnello Pecorino Olive e Rosmarino - from Figo


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Cuisine: Italian Main Dish

From the menu of . . . Figo
627 E. College Ave., Decatur
404-377-2121

Q: I had the Agnello Pecorino Olive e Rosmarino (roasted lamb with olives and rosemary and Pecorino cheese) over papardelle at Figo. It was too fabulous -- simple and unfussy, yet still rich on the palate.
- Greg Baumann, Atlanta

A: Chef Mirko di Giacomantonio remembers his grandmother making this dish when he was a young boy in Italy. Almost everything about it was homemade - the pasta, the Pecorino; even the lamb was home-raised. As good as Giacomantonio's version is, he is willing to bow to greatness, as he did during a recent visit to his grandmother back home. "Mine does not taste as good, " he said.

Hands on time: 30 minutes  Total time: 45 minutes  Serves: 4

Ingredients:

    20 ounces ground lamb
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    2 cups diced celery
    1 medium white onion, diced
    2 cups diced carrots
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 sprig fresh rosemary
    1 serrano pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 cup red wine
    24 taggiasche (or ni├žoise) olives, pits removed
    1 1/2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
    1 1/2 pounds dry short pasta, such as gemelli, rigatoni or orecchiette
    2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
    1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Instructions:

Place the ground lamb in a bowl and season with the salt, pepper and vinegar. Mix well and allow to marinate for 15 minutes.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, celery, white onion, carrots, garlic, rosemary, serrano pepper and bay leaves. Cook until vegetables are soft, then add the lamb mixture. Cook until the lamb is no longer pink; add the wine and cook until wine evaporates. Add the olives, tomato paste and 2 cups water. Cook 20 to 30 minutes, until flavors are well-blended. If mixture gets too dry, add more wine or water.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water to al dente. Drain the pasta and combine with the sauce. Sprinkle each serving with Italian parsley and Pecorino Romano, and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Notes:

For this fragrant and hearty sauce, chef Mirko di Giacomantonio recommends asking your butcher to grind the meat to order from a large leg of lamb.

Tester's note: If your store carries ground lamb, buy 24 ounces. After adding to the vegetables and cooking, pour off most of the liquid. Place lamb in freezer for a few minutes to allow fat to rise to the top. Scoop off most of the fat, discard and pour the remaining liquid back into the pan.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 1,310 calories (percent of calories from fat, 37), 51 grams protein, 151 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fiber, 54 grams fat (18 grams saturated), 111 milligrams cholesterol, 2,432 milligrams sodium.

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