Sourdough Fettuccine with Chocolate-Lamb Ragu

posted in: Cooking, Savory | 32

Have you gone completely insane like me? Do you keep your sourdough starter on your counter in two separate containers that you’ve affectionately named Toby and Sassafras? Are you constantly in search of things to do with the starter, to the point that this week you’ve tucked it into chocolate cake and stew and next up you’re thinking of building a sourdough car?

I’m guessing probably not, which is why I need an intervention. Like stat. It’s really bad, people. I pet my starters when I feed them. I coo at them. My husband had to stop me from bringing Sassafras into bed the other night. I was worried she’d get too cold in the kitchen.

I kind of feel like a sourdough savant. You know how savants tend to be a little loony- in Italy we used to say fuori come il balcone, which means outside like the balcony- but they are excruciatingly good at one thing? Well my sourdough savantism has at least led me to produce such an exceptional batch of pasta dough for rolling that I would be willing to invite Thomas Keller to dinner just to taste it.

The dough is musky and alive. Running the finished fettuccine noodles through my fingers is like caressing the mane of a liger in heat while riding on her back through the jungle. I know that because it’s how I spend my vacations. I fly to the jungle, befriend a female liger by feeding her sourdough fettuccine, and then get her to streak me through the trees bareback, naked. It’s a powerful feeling, having a liger clutched between your thighs. I’m thinking of starting an ecotourism business and making this one of the activities alongside zip-lining and getting tequila-addled tramp stamp tattoos of Tweety Bird.

This pasta is extra earthy from the addition of sourdough as well as the high ratio of egg yolks. I opted to serve it with a ragu sauce that I tweaked to enhance the flavor of the noodles. In addition to the standard elements of a ragu, I added lamb, which gives the sauce a gamine punch that flirts with your tongue like a secret, lingering kiss.

I softened the lamb by adding cocoa powder and cinnamon to the ragu. Both the sourdough noodles and the lamb are tang-forward, but the cocoa powder leaves a residual softness in the back of the palate that balances the composition. The piquancy of cinnamon lends an element of surprise that drives home this whimsical take on classic Bolognese. If the flavors seem at all strange, think for a moment about the last time you had good molé sauce. Sweet and savory are expertly combined in a way that showcases the nuances of every element. I used molé as an inspiration when I created this sauce.

One final note on sourdough: every household should have a good starter. Yes, you can obsess like I am currently, or you can tuck your starter into the refrigerator and only feed her when you’re in the mood for bread. It’s not all that hard to make your own starter, and my friend Nicole is blogging the process as we speak over at Pinch My Salt. If you follow along with her, in just a few days you’ll be on your way to making these sourdough noodles, which are guaranteed to bring joy to the world just like kittens, rainbows and promiscuous women.

Sourdough Fettuccine

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 500 grams tipo 00 flour
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 150 grams (100% hydration, meaning equal parts flour to water) sourdough starter
  • 20 grams olive oil
  • 35 grams whole milk
  1. Put the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer and make a well in the center. Add the remaining ingredients. With the dough hook attachment, process the mixture into cohesive dough that is smooth and elastic.
  2. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, before rolling flat and cutting into fettuccine noodles either by hand or with a pasta maker.
  3. These noodles do not need to boil for long as the sourdough keeps them very light. Mine were al dente in less than one minute, so watch carefully when cooking.
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  5. Juicy and very badly written! I love these unusual items! thanks a lot!!!

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  10. This looks amazing! Would love to see the recipe for the chocolate-lamb ragu!

  11. I had a three year old born via Nancy Silverton’s grape starter method, named Herbie. He passed a year ago when I neglected feeding him due to being away quite a bit, then forgetting about him in the back of my fridge during bread lulls. When I found him, he was starting to mold, and I couldn’t let him suffer any longer. He lives on through bad photos of a few great breads in my Flick account. I’m sure he would have loved to be a part of that fettuccine had he lived. RIP Herbie, 2007-2010.

  12. You’re not crazy. I talk to my homemade wines, beers, ciders and meads. They are all living for a time and then still need love to maximize future enjoyment.It can get excessive in my house as well, but such it is when you love something!

    I’m not a homemade pasta maker, but I can appreciate the effort to be sure.



  13. I fell in love with making pasta this summer and the pasta fell more in love with my ass and thighs…I was making it up to twice a week, cuz it’s so damn good. I’ve been dying to try sourdough bread, and what better excuse than to make it for pasta! I think I finally got my son on the ragu and marinara bandwagon, so I will definitely save this. Thanks for sharing your genius as usual.

  14. OhMyFreakingGod! Is this sourdough starter week, or what? I’m a novice and just decided to make one this week. I’m blogging the process, day-by-day, starting yesterday!

    Actually, I have two: a bigger one that I started on Monday and a smaller one (named Yeastie – yes, I know it’s unoriginal) that I started for the blog on Wednesday. I’ll have to come up with better names. Holy cow. I have to go to Nicole’s blog, now…

  15. I can hardly wait to get my hands back in some starter. I shall name it Pat and be covered for either gender. I have a famous starter encounter. I got to feed the starter that lives in Charlie Trotter’s kitchen (his restaurant, not his home). Stirred with my hand – the way starter should be fed – no spoons, please.

  16. Vesa Becam

    I had to look up liger….

  17. Wow sourdough pasta sounds amazing!! I need this in my life!! :)

  18. Love that fettuccine, looks INCREDIBLY fresh!

  19. Oh boy, I have never ever heard of a sourdough pasta and now just the mere idea makes me hungry! This is SO good and so new to me and you my friend are a talent :-)

  20. Lol, you kill me, crazy girl! Sourdough fettuccine? Umm, yes please! Sourdough anything is a winner in my book. xoxo.

  21. this looks lovely

  22. I love the way your write.

  23. Linda, you are so ridiculously talented it’s not even funny . . . and i’m not BS-ing you either . . . like seriously talented . . . i’m simply in awe every. single. time. i. visit. not sure i’ll ever have the cooking chops you do, but i’m sure as hell gonna try . . . this dish is brilliant

  24. Is it acceptable to substitute other flour? Like AP? Don’t have no fancy 00 stuff round these here parts.

    Linda Reply:

    @Julie @BananasForBourbon, It is absolutely ok. The texture will be a little different, but not so appreciable that anyone would notice much. Definitely don’t use bread flour, however, that will make it tough.

  25. @Nicole
    Me too! Waiting obsessively for the recipe, I mean. My starter isn’t ready yet. :(

  26. I’ve been checking your blog obsessively waiting for you to share this. I mean like several times a day. Is your starter at 100% hydration?

    Linda Reply:

    @Nicole, yes dear- great clarification!

  27. This looks great. I’ve always wanted to make my own sourdough starter. Perhaps I’ll dive in this weekend. I think the most difficult part will be coming up with a name! … James? Elizabeth?

    Linda Reply:

    @Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence, I’m a big fan of Elizabeth as a starter name, though you’ll have to see if you’ve got a girl or a boy- I do believe they “choose” a gender at birth;)

    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence Reply:

    @Linda, How does one tell if it’s a girl or boy ;)?

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