Alfredo grew up in Brooklyn, NY. His father grew up in Abruzzo, Italy, and his mother, Puerto Rico. It goes without saying that he grew up around amazing Italian and Puerto Rican food. Before we knew him as one of our best wine representatives (with our New York Distributor, Winebow) he spent nearly two decades working in the restaurant business, and nearly half of that as a co-owner of one. When I come to NYC it’s always my highest and most delectable honor to work the market with him because he knows the restaurant scene so well! I loved being able to stay in touch with him while he’s “nesting in place” with his young family and were delighted when he agreed to share a couple of his own, wine-friendly recipes with us!
“While I have no formal culinary training, I’ve always been incredibly passionate about cooking. I’m self-taught, and constantly learning new things. I lean towards southern Italian and Mediterranean cooking. Through being married to a vegetarian Brit, I’ve delved into Indian food which is tons of fun. I sometimes incorporate Puerto Rican flare into things. It’s a constant journey. Bottom line though… the kitchen is my happy place.”
Lamb Ragu with Fresh Pappardelle
- 2 to 2.5 lbs Lamb shoulder cut into roughly 2 inch cubes fat trimmed
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2-3 sprigs rosemary
- 5-6 stems parsley
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- cheesecloth and kitchen string
- 12 to 15 white peppercorns
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1.5 cups red wine
- 1 large can San Marzano tomatoes crushed
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- grated pecorino Romano cheese
- unsalted butter
- Salt and black pepper
- Fresh homemade Pappardelle. Or dried works too.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix your spices (cumin and paprika) in a bowl. Season the lamb all over with the spice mixture, salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven.
- When hot, add the lamb in a single layer and brown on both sides for about 6-8 minutes. Just until browned all over. You may need to to this in 2 batches. Once the lamb is browned remove from the pot and transfer to a platter.
- Now add your onion, carrots and celery. Cook until softened then add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. In the meantime prepare your herb sachet. Put all the herbs and the peppercorns into a piece of cheesecloth and tie with string to form a small bundle.
- Now add the tomato paste to the veggies and spread around until it’s mixed in. Add your wine and simmer til reduced by half. Return the lamb to the pot with all its juices, and add the tomatoes, herb sachet and beef stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and place in the oven for about 2 hours, until the lamb falls apart with a fork.
- Remove from the oven and shred the lamb pieces with a fork. If you need to remove the pieces to do so that’s fine. Return the shredded lamb to the pot and if necessary reduce the sauce on the stove top.
- Remove the herb sachet.
- Have your heavily salted boiling water ready. Add your fresh Pappardelle and cook for about 2 minutes. Fresh pasta cooks fast. If using dried pasta then cook until al dente.
- Drain the pasta. Add it to a large sauce pan with ladles of lamb Ragu and a few pads of butter. Gently heat on the stove top until the butter is melted in. Serve and top with Pecorino.
Tagliatelle with Slow Braised Duck Ragu
- 4 duck legs
- 3-4 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion or 1/2 a large onion finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 2-3 sprigs of sage
- 5-6 stems of parsley
- Cheesecloth & kitchen string
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock preferably homemade
- 1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes chopped
- 1 navel orange
- salt and pepper
- grated pecorino cheese
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 lb. of fresh homemade tagliatelle or dried pasta of your choosing. Gigli or gemelli also works well.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. When hot and almost smoking, add the duck legs skin side down and brown well on both sides, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the duck legs and transfer to a platter. Spoon out about half of the rendered duck fat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and cumin seed, and cook until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes being mindful to not let the garlic burn. Meanwhile make a bouquet garni with your herbs; wrap the rosemary, sage and parsley in the cheesecloth, tie with string and make a small bundle. Add the tomato paste to the veggies and toss it all in for about a minute. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Let the wine reduce a bit. Return the duck and all its drippings to the pot with the bouquet garni, the San Marzano tomatoes and their liquid, and enough stock to keep the meat submerged. Season with salt and pepper, bring it to a simmer, then cover it and transfer it to the oven for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove it from the oven and let it cool. By now, the duck meat should fall right off the bone.
- After it is cool enough to handle, take the duck legs out, pull all the meat off the bones, shred it and return it to the sauce. Discard the skin. Remove the bouquet garni. If the sauce is too thin reduce it on the stove top to thicken it. Zest about half of the orange into the sauce and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. When the sauce is ready, add your homemade pasta to the pot of salted boiling water you remembered to start 15 minutes ago. Fresh pasta will take 1 to 2 minutes to cook. When it rises to the surface, pour it out into a colander. Separately, put a large sauce pot over low heat. Add some sauce to the pot. Then add the pasta, a couple of pads of butter, and more sauce. Toss it all together over low heat until the butter is melted and the sauce has a nice silky consistency. Serve with pecorino.