If you live in Los Angeles, you are faced with the challenge of where to eat. It's not that there aren't any good places to go, it's quite the opposite; there are too many places to choose from! I keep a list of places I want to visit and was able to finally cross off one restaurant, Bestia. It was beyond my expectations, delivering some of the best Italian food I've ever had. I kid you not, I made reservations the following day to visit again (it's a two-month wait!). Inspired by that meal, I decided to make a homemade Italian dish, pici with lamb ragu. Pici is a great pasta to make if you don't have a pasta machine since the noodles are all hand-rolled. It takes a little time, but trust me, the results are outstanding.
Pici with Lamb Ragu
- pinch of saffron
- 2 tablespoon hot water
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 celery rib finely diced
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon thyme fresh
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary fresh
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ⅓ cup dry red wine
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cups tepid water
- Prepare the lamb ragu. Steep saffron in hot water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook until browned. Remove from heat and set aside. In the same pan, saute the carrot, onion, and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add back the lamb along with the coriander, thyme, fennel, cumin, rosemary, saffron with the water, tomato paste, and red wine. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Add the canned diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 1 hour. Taste and season once again with salt and pepper.
- While the sauce is simmering, make the pici. Combine semolina and all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and slowly add the water, stirring until a dough forms. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest for 20 minutes.
- Dust a baking sheet with semolina. Unwrap the dough and divide the dough into 1-inch size balls. Working with one ball at a time, roll it into a ¼-inch thick long string. Keep the remaining dough covered. Cut the string into 10-inch long pieces and set it aside on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pici and cook until noodles float to the top, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the water.
- Toss together the pasta with the lamb ragu and the reserved pasta water in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I recently discovered pici and have since fallen in love. Pici, also known as "fat spaghetti," is a type of pasta that is hand-rolled and consists of only flour and water, no egg! I always add semolina to my pasta and this recipe is no different.
Start by making the pasta dough. Slowly add the water to the flour and semolina mixture, mixing until the dough comes together. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. You can do this using a mixer, but for some reason, making it by hand seemed more authentic to me. Hey, if you're going to make the pasta, might as well go all the way, no?
Once the dough is formed and has rested, divide it into 1-inch balls. Cover the dough as you work with one portion at a time. Roll the first portion into a long rope about ¼-inch thick and cut the rope into about 10-inch strips. You can be rustic and have noodles at different lengths as well. Place the noodles on a sheet pan dusted with semolina and repeat with the remaining dough.
Like all homemade pasta, this pici will cook in a matter of minutes. Dry pasta usually takes 8-10, but fresh can be ready in only 3-4 minutes. Once the pasta starts to float to the top of the water, it is ready. Drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water - it will be useful later when finishing the dish!
Because pici is a fat, thick, noodle, it pairs well with richer sauces such as lamb ragu. Prepare the ragu just as you would bolognese, simmering the lamb with earthy spices and red wine.
Let the sauce simmer over a long period of time to let the flavors really develop. The sauce will reduce by almost a quarter and it should be a deep red. Toss the pasta with the sauce and reserved pasta water. The pasta water will help bind the dish together. Top with freshly grated parmesan and dig in!
I truly loved every bite of this pasta. The noodles were perfectly al dente, with just the right amount of thickness. Paired with the rich ragu, you really can't go wrong. Pici with lamb ragu, my new favorite pasta dish!
For more pasta inspiration check out this roasted vegetable bolognese!