Sunday, January 16, 2022

Jackfruit (Cut To Look Like Lamb) Ragu.

Nothing's better on a wintry day than a good old fashioned bowl of pasta. My dad's family is from Tuscany so I grew up with some of the benefits of that cuisine. One of my favorite Northern Italian food perks is a tasty ragu, Florentine style.

My Nonna was the queen of this type of pasta.  Nonno was no slack either, but the thing I really remember about him was the large pot of chicken feet he usually had on the stove. As a kid, I developed a taste for chicken feet, pigs feet, and other culinary unmentionables. I'll never forget the time my dad dragged in some sort of "delicacy" that I don't think one could see on the outside of the animal. That was the last straw for my mom who even though she was part Italian (her family had been in the US, pre-US down in NOLA and had their own food quirks) but this was a line she would not cross. No innards! If she embroidered this would have been on a pillow.

Whatever it was he was trying to cook, I remember my mom sticking a knife in it, and chasing him around the kitchen with it while they both were laughing. Then she couldn't get the knife out. I never did find out what it was he brought home for us, but there were certain immigrant dishes she wouldn't touch. For Italian food, she liked the basics.  Meatballs (polpette), polenta, and a nice ragu (or as they called it gravy because it had meat).

I have an old Italian cookbook that was passed on to me when I left SF for LA. It has recipes in tiny print using European measurements, which were waaay above my pay grade at the time.They sent me to Los Angeles with a cookbook, a hand cranked pasta machine, and a job doing all night rock radio at a 50,000 watt station, and I was just turning 21. That's what every girl hitting the LA rock scene in the 70's needs. That's what Licorice Pizza missed!

The station did send me to truck driving school however, during the gas crisis as a PR stunt and I wound up in Overdrive Magazine, but I never really bothered to figure out the metric system, or make anything in that book. Yet, it followed me until I was ready for it. Like the student must be ready for the teacher or some such Yoda-type thing.

Anyway,  as a grownup, I do metrics now with my cooking and the book is a treasured item that I go to when I need some home comfort cooking. One thing I always make from it is the recipe fora true ragu

Traditionally, the recipe calls for three types of meat, beef, lamb and pork which is how I used to make it, or if just one meat was used, it was left over leg of lamb. This was a dish which was always served around Easter time when there would be left over lamb and my mom would make an old school lamb ragu.

Now, I make it with canned Jackfruit, subbing for shredded lamb, and yes it works, it really really work. How do I know this? Well, the carnivore I live with, aka Alan requested this for his birthday dinner this year. so, just sayin'.....

Jackfruit Ragu

Here's What You Need:

1 can of jackfruit 

2 and 1/2 Tbs olive oil

6 Tbs unsalted butter (divided)

1 onion finely chopped

1 carrot finely chopped

1 stalk celery finely chopped

A few leaves of fresh basil chopped

About a tsp or two of fresh chopped rosemary

1 Bay leaf

A pinch of sugar

2/3 cup dry white wine

4 tsp tomato paste

1 and 1/4 cup stock (vegetable)

4 Tbs cream

Grated Parmesan cheese


Here's What To Do:

Drain and rinse the jackfruit in cool water.

Dry it well, by rolling it in paper towels and pressing to get extra water out. 

Then shred the jackfruit using two forks, or your hands. Just shred it up, all of it can be eaten so don't worry about any part that won't break up. Once it's dried and shredded set it aside.

Melt 3 Tbs of the butter and all the olive oil in a deep pan or skillet.

Add in the chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Saute over a low heat until the vegetables soften and start to change color. Add in the basil and rosemary and the bay leaf.

Now add in the shredded jackfruit. Saute it gently. The idea is to dry it, and brown it lightly on the edges crisping it. Add your pinch of sugar now as this helps the jackfruit caramelize. Stir it around.

When it starts to brown, add in the white wine and cook it down until it starts to evaporate.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dilute the tomato paste with a little stock, and stir it into the sauce. Add the rest of the stock and cook slowly as the liquid is reduced. 

After the sauce has thickened a bit add in the cream and continue cooking until that has reduce.

Finally add in the rest of the butter, and stir until it's melted and thoroughly mixed into the sauce. 

Boil the Tagliatelli for about 5 to 7 minutes, then drain it and add it to the sauce.

Mix everything around well and serve it up sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and a sprig of rosemary.

So there it is,  a traditional ragu without the meat, and according to Alan, Carnivore Approved!

 Coming up next, more treats, follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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