Snow Day Ragu Stew by Brandy Fernow

 It’s January. It’s cold. It’s damp. It’s the time of year I start googling beach vacations and destinations in the sun. One thing that does bring warmth when I can’t get away on vacation is savoring a hearty winter stew. Stews can give us warmth on the coldest of days and are generally simple to make, a one-pot dish that can utilize leftover produce hanging around the fridge and can be left simmering on its own for hours.

A favorite in our house is “snow day stew”, a cross between a ragu and stew that I make on snow days off from school. I love coming into the house after hours of sledding and snow-fort building to the aroma of slow-simmered lamb, herbs and tomatoes. I use lamb which is packed with healthy vitamins and minerals, that is ground so it doesn’t have to “stew” for long. Ladled over buttery noodles, it may not warm me up like a sun-drenched sandy beach, but this warm ragu stew will get me through.

Rosemary Lamb Ragu Stew
Serves 4
  1. ½ pound bacon, cut in1/2 inch pieces
  2. 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
  3. 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  4. 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  5. 1 pound ground lamb
  6. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  8. 2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary
  9. ½ teaspoon red chile flake
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  12. ½ cup red wine
  13. 24 ounces chopped canned tomatoes
  14. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  15. 2 cups chicken stock
  16. 1 bay leaf
  17. 1 pound egg noodles
  18. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Heat a large heavy dutch oven pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate.
  2. Add the carrot, bell pepper and shallot; cook for about 5 minutes or until veggies are softened. Add the lamb, garlic, oregano, rosemary, chile flake and salt. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the lamb is cooked through.
  3. Pour in the wine and deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits and incorporate. Cook just until wine is evaporated.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have combined, at least 20 minutes, or up to two hours.
  5. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in a large pot of salted water according to directions. Drain and toss with the 2 tablespoons of butter.
  6. Add noodles to a bowl and top with ragu stew. Garnish with fresh rosemary.
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