Orecchiette with Curried Lamb Ragù

Printemps 2017
food and drink

BY: Christopher St. Onge

The key to success with this rule-breaking ragù is fresh, punchy curry powder. If in doubt as to the age of your curry, purchase new from a busy shop. Look for green garlic (a.k.a. spring garlic) at farmers’ markets. It’s likely the first local produce to make an appearance. If you’ll be trimming the lamb yourself rather than asking a butcher to do it, allow for an extra ½ lb (250 g) when purchasing.

8 green garlic stalks
5 tbsp (75 mL) butter, divided
2 lbs (1 kg) boneless Ontario lamb leg, trimmed of exterior fat and cut into 4 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely grated ginger
⅓ cup (80 mL) mild or hot curry powder
1 can (798 mL) Italian tomatoes, roughly crushed
½ cup (125 mL) chicken stock or water
2 cups (500 mL) coarsely chopped fresh bread crumbs (from day-old bread)
14 oz (400 g) orecchiette

1. Trim root ends of green garlic and clean, removing tough skin around bulb only if necessary. Set 2 stalks aside for later use. Separate white portions from the green in the 6 remaining. Finely chop the white portions and set the green tops aside with the other 2 whole stalks.

2. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).

3. Heat 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or other large ovenproof pot. Season lamb pieces with salt and pepper; brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total, and remove to a plate.

4. Add onion to pot and cook until golden, 7  to 8 minutes. Stir in chopped green garlic and the ginger; cook 1 minute longer. Sprinkle curry powder over, stir to combine and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and stock to pan; stir. Nestle lamb pieces into pot; season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and place in preheated oven for 3 hours, stirring midway through to ensure braising liquid hasn’t become too thick; if necessary, thin with a little water.

5. Meanwhile, finely chop reserved whole green garlic stalks. Melt remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped green garlic and fry until lightly golden, about 2 minutes; add bread crumbs and stir to coat all in butter. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

6. Remove lamb from sauce and shred meat into bite-sized chunks with 2 forks; return to pot. If sauce is thin, thicken by reducing over medium heat to desired consistency, chop reserved green garlic tops and stir into sauce.

7. Cook orecchiette according to package directions and stir into hot sauce. Divide between 4 shallow bowls and sprinkle each with a generous handful of the buttery crumbs.

Serves 4