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Off the Menu: Pappardelle with lamb ragu

Take homemade pasta to the next level. Joel Valente, executive chef at Hilton Garden Inn Haymarket, shares his secrets to making the perfect pappardelle with lamb ragu. | By Alison Cavatore | June 8, 2023

There’s something about a rich, home-cooked meal bursting with flavor that brings a feeling of community and connection to the table. Fresh pappardelle with a hearty lamb ragu is that meal — and we know just the person to show us how it’s done.

At Red House Tavern inside Hilton Garden Inn Haymarket, executive chef Joel Valente knows the importance of integrity, patience and maintaining high standards — in the kitchen and in life. As an alum of the three-Michelin-starred Inn at Little Washington and having worked with Michelin-starred chefs in various fine dining establishments in New York City, chef Valente understands good food. Furthermore, he believes good food should be accessible to everyone. Which is why he insists on using locally sourced ingredients and playing with bold flavors to curate approachable yet elevated traditional Virginia dishes that have locals and visitors raving. Says chef Valente, “No matter where you live, life is too short to eat bland food.”

This pappardelle with lamb ragu recipe is the perfect example of a pasta dish that exceeds flavor expectations.

Says chef Valente, “I’m always looking out in the dining room catching those non-verbal cues, like when their eyes close and their head nods in pleasure, then I know we’ve done our job.”

The chef’s number one tip for preparing this dish at home? “Good lamb … and have patience. Great food takes time, especially homemade pasta and a proper ragu.”

If you prefer your ragu vegetarian, chef Valente suggests substituting lamb for mushrooms. Pair either style of ragu with an acidic side salad with shaved vegetables or endive and beets for a complementary burst of flavors.

No matter how you enjoy this pappardelle with lamb ragu recipe, one consideration we suggest is to make extra. We guarantee your dinner guests will be asking for seconds!

Lamb ragu ingredients

- 2 pounds lamb shoulder, cubed

- 4 9/10 grams salt

- 70 grams large onion, diced

- 70 grams large carrot, diced

- 70 grams large fennel, diced

- 70 grams celery, diced

- 1 tablespoon olive oil

- 1 3/5 grams black pepper

- 3 cloves garlic, minced

- 1 1/3 grams cumin

- 1/2 gram toasted fennel seed

- 57 1/2 grams white wine

- 2 grams rosemary

- 1 bay leaf

- 1 cup tomato sauce

- 1 cup roasted lamb stock

- 1 bay leaf

- 2 1⁄3 grams Calabrian chili

- 2 tablespoons pickled fennel

- Pecorino Romano, grated (to taste)

- Half a lemon

  • Optional: Drizzle Calabrian chili oil

Pappardelle ingredients  

- 85 grams Caputo 00 flour

- 55 grams liquid egg yolks

(if using whole eggs, 56 grams yolks)

- 3 1/4 grams water


Marinate and salt lamb for 4 hours before cooking, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).

In a rondeau (a pan with large cooking surface, straight sides and shallow interior), drizzle olive oil and add lamb to sear. Season lightly with pepper. Once cooked, remove lamb and set aside.

In the same rondeau, add the onions, fennel, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sweat for 5 to 8 minutes, incorporating the fond (small, caramelized pieces left in the pan after browning) from the lamb as you go.

Add garlic, toasted fennel seed, cumin and saute for another 5 to 8 minutes. Pour white wine over vegetables and stir to combine with fond.

Place a sachet of rosemary, bay leaf and pepper in rondeau with vegetables. Add tomato sauce and roasted lamb stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Mix in Calabrian chili and lamb pieces.

Insert a cartouche (parchment paper lid) to cover the surface of the ragu. Cover rondeau with aluminum foil and place in the oven at 300 F (149 C) for 3 ½ to 4 hours or until lamb is tender.

While the lamb ragu is in the oven, prepare your pappardelle pasta.

In a mixer, combine Caputo 00 flour, egg yolks and water for 12 minutes. Remove from mixer and work the dough on a flat surface for 3 minutes. Set aside to rest at room temperature for around 30 minutes.

Using a pasta wheel or rolling pin on a flat surface, roll out your dough to desired thickness and hand-cut into pappardelle strips.

In a pot of salted water, cook the pappardelle for 4 to 5 minutes.

In a pan, reheat desired portion of ragu with a splash of pasta water and add pappardelle. Add a ladle or two of stock, if necessary, for preferred consistency of ragu.

Grate desired quantity of Pecorino Romano cheese over pappardelle pasta and ragu. For more heat, add optional drizzle of Calabrian chili oil. Season with salt and a pinch of sugar if needed. Squeeze lemon juice over pasta and ragu for acidity.

Plate pappardelle pasta with lamb ragu and top with thin slices of Pecorino Romano, a drizzle of olive oil and one or two fennel fronds.


Alison Cavatore is the assistant editor for the content marketing team at Hilton. She has written and copyedited for numerous print and digital publications in the U.S. and abroad. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Alison has lived in Miami, Scottsdale, Holland, France, Switzerland and Canada. She currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area.

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