Lamb, fig & chilli with handmade mafalde

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This dish is loosely inspired by a meal that Scott used to cook for me often when we were students. Sometimes in and amongst the gaggle of girls in my hilariously dated, wonky Oxford kitchen, other times in the East London house he shared with an evolving group of art students and random others. I think a chef flatmate of his had cooked it for him once and he’d loved it – and after initial scepticism, I did too.

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He would fry up some pork mince or sausage meat squeezed out of the casings and flavour it with a little onion and garlic. The lightly browned mince would then be liberally doused in white wine vinegar and garnished with plenty of chopped parsley. The delicious meaty juices and vinegar would coat the spaghetti strands nicely and we’d eat enormous portions of the stuff, completely enamoured by the powerful tang of the vinegar cutting through the delicious fatty meat.

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I decided today to try a slightly different version of this using sausages made from lamb (my favourite meat). I used a slightly more restrained amount of vinegar and partnered the lamb with a few chopped figs (instead of chopped tomatoes for a change!) and spicy red chilli. Served with homemade curly-edged pappardelle/tagliatelle (called mafalde), this was a delicious and slightly more grown up version of our favourite meal from back in the day. Good memories.

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You will need:

For the lamb:

300g lamb sausages (mine were seasoned with a little mint, which was nice)
2 large ripe figs, roughly chopped
2 tbspn white wine vinegar
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced
2 cloves fresh garlic
Handful of finely chopped parsley, plus extra to garnish
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

For the pasta:

200g tip 00 pasta flour, plus a little extra to dust
2 large free range eggs
1/2 tspn fine table salt

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Method:

1 – Weigh out your flour and tip it into a large bowl along with the salt. Mix together and then use a fork to build up the flour into a mound and then create a large well in the centre. Break the egg straight into the well you’ve created in the flour – don’t worry if it spills out a little – and use a fork to beat the egg.

2 – Gradually whisk in most of the flour, then ditch the fork and use your hands to combine the egg and flour into a ball – it’ll be sticky but keep knocking it around until you form a dough ball. At this point, set a timer and knead the dough thoroughly over a floured surface for 10 minutes until the dough turns noticeably more elastic, smooth and silky. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

3 – Meanwhile start the meaty sauce by heating a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently until just softened for a couple of minutes before stirring in the chilli and garlic. Fry for a minute or so before adding the lamb, squeezing the meat out of the sausage casings and breaking the meat up well with a wooden spoon.

4 – Turn up the heat and allow the lamb to cook through before adding the chopped figs and then the vinegar. Cook for 1 minute then turn of the heat and stir in the parsley. Taste and add seasoning as necessary (don’t add salt before tasting the cooked sausage as they may be quite salty already). Set aside the lamb while you prepare your pasta.

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5 – Once your dough is nicely chilled, get it out the fridge. Put a large pot of heavily salted water on to boil now. Clamp your pasta machine to your longest available surface and set the rollers on the widest setting. Squidge the dough a little with your fingers so that it flattens slightly and will be able to fit through the machine. Roll it through the past machine on the widest setting.

6 – Now adjust the machine to it’s second widest setting, dust the pasta with a little flour and feed the dough through the machine.  Adjust the machine back up to the widest setting and roll the pasta through again, followed by a roll through the machine on the second widest setting. Repeat this step 3 more times until the dough is nicely rolled out, dusting the pasta occasionally as you go.

7 – Now the dough should be rolled out nice and long. Take the dough and fold it in half, then in half again (and maybe again) until you have a square of dough.

8 – Turn the dough round 90 degrees and run it back through the widest machine setting, then the second thinnest, and so on until you pass it through the second thinnest machine setting. Remember to dust the pasta as you go.

10 – Make the mafalde by cutting your freshly rolled pasta sheets into strips around 1 inch thick on a floured surface using a cerated cutter. At this stage put your lamb back on the heat to warm up.

11 – When the water is bubbling fiercely add the pasta to the pan and leave to cook for 1-2 minutes until al dente. Drain, reserving the cooking water. Add 1 tbspns of cooking water to the lamb, stir and and either serve it on top of the drained pasta or tossed around with it – up to you. Scatter over extra parsley leaves and a little olive oil if liked before serving immediately.

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12 thoughts on “Lamb, fig & chilli with handmade mafalde

  1. I can’t believe that Scott cooked something so gourmet during your student days… definitely a keeper! ;) This dish is gorgeous. I think the combination of the lamb, sweet figs and a bit of chilli heat is a match made in heaven. It’s nice to hear you say that lamb is your favourite meat. I’ve become ill-acquainted with the British food scene (other than blogs) over the past few years and when I attempted to cook lamb for my uncle a couple of days ago he seemed to think I was a bit mad! According to him, lamb is ‘most expensive’ over here and uncommonly eaten… at the butcher in Chertsey, there was hardly any on the shelf! Nice to know that you’re keeping the lamb love going (it’s my favourite too, and we are blessed with a lot of it in Australia!) xx

    1. Ha, that’s literally the only thing he’s ever cooked for me, and it’s been a very very long time since that happened (ahem – Scott are you reading/getting the hint?)

      Oh wow, that really surprises me! I think of lamb as a really quite British meat, although I know lots is imported from NZ.. I eat it often and find it easy to come by (normally Waitrose), but to be honest it’s likely all imported. British butcher-sourced lamb is probably very expensive id imagine. Sad, and mad that it’s easier and cheaper to get lamb from the other side of the world than it is here! Crazy crazy x

    1. Thanks!
      Well, I’m not too sure because it was an idea given to my boyfriend by an old friend who we’ve since lost contact with! So it’s a mystery :) But a happy one at that because I love the addition of something so sharp alongside the meat. I’ve seen recipes for roast pork actually with lots of vinegar, almost a whole bottle.. must be the same school of thought!

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