Sourdough Fettuccine with Chocolate-Lamb Ragu
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.