When Kamala Harris was Italian
In 2007, Ms. Harris won 2nd place in Museo Italo Americano’s Pasta Contest. I nominate our new Vice President an honorary paisana.
Since 1978 the Museo Italo Americano, located in Fort Mason, has celebrated Italian culture, including great art, architecture, literature, fashion, and of course our world-renowned cuisine. A goal of the museo is to preserve the heritage of Italian-Americans for future generations. No surprise, our then-future Vice President Harris stepped in to that end, showcasing her cooking skills with a classic Italian dish fit for royalty—make that for all democratic palates. In celebration of her historic inauguration (of the United States’ first African-American and first South-Asian-American and first woman VP, whew!), the museo sent us members our monthly newsletter with Kamala’s recipe, Penne with Braised Lamb Ragu. I’ll share her prize-winning recipe here, with a little suggestion for those who might like to down-size the lamb a bit. I speak for many of my fellow Italian-Americans when I say how proud we are of Vice President Kamala Harris. Viva la cucina Italiana!
PENNE WITH BRAISED LAMB RAGU
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 lamb shanks (each about 3/4 pound)*
2 cups chopped onions
1 pound small button mushrooms, halved
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in purée
1 1/4 pounds penne pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over high heat. Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Add to pot and brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer lamb shanks to platter. Add onions, mushrooms, garlic, basil, rosemary, and crushed red pepper to pot and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Return lamb to pot. Add wine and boil until liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add beef stock and tomatoes to pot; return to boil.
Cover pot, transfer to oven and bake until lamb is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Using tongs, transfer lamb to large bowl. Cool 10 minutes. Cut meat off bones into generous 1/2-inch pieces (discard bones**). Return meat to sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold; cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.) Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm to the bite. Drain well. Transfer pasta to large serving bowl. Spoon sauce over pasta. Serve, passing Parmesan cheese.
*6 lamb shanks, mamma mia, that’s a lot of meat. I plan to make this recipe, cutting that to 3 lamb shanks. I will cut the pasta to 1 pound, onions to 1 1/2 cups, mushrooms to 1/2 to 3/4 pound, wine to 1/3 cup, stock to 2 1/2 cups. Everything else I would leave same amounts. I don’t think Kamala will mind. You can check back with me around Easter/Passover and I’ll let you know how it works out—ocaramia2000ATgmailDOTcom.
**I always suck the goodness out of bones in a long, slow cooking stock,which has many uses. You can freeze the bones if you can’t cook them right away.