Our Houston chef friend Chris Shepherd’s cookbook, Cook Like a Local, is inspired by the many local cuisines of his adopted city. A favorite recipe from it, Chris’s tried-and-true “Lamburger Helper,” makes for a great pairing with our own favorite—and very local—Miner wine, The Oracle 2019, produced from two legendary Napa Valley vineyards, Stagecoach and Volker Eisele.
For the sauce
For the pasta
- 1 pound penne pasta
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground lamb (or substitute ground beef)
- ½ cup diced white onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup diced tomato
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
Add the garlic and onion and sprinkle the flour over.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until the onion and garlic smell fragrant and the flour evenly coats the vegetables.
Slowly whisk in the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Add the sambal and hot sauce and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the cheese, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Pasta + Lamb Mixture
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and add 3 tablespoons of salt.
Add the pasta, and cook until just under al dente, about 9 minutes, or a few minutes under what the package directions tell you.
Drain the pasta, and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering-hot.
Add the lamb, spread it out to cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes.
Drain almost all of the grease from the pan and discard. Stir in the onion and garlic, and continue cooking for 2 minutes, until slightly softened.
Add the chile powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, and oregano, and cook for 3 minutes, until very aromatic.
Add the tomato and wine and let simmer, stirring frequently so nothing sticks, until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Toss the pasta and lamb mixture together in a large bowl.
Fold in the cheese sauce and 1 cup of the cheddar.
Pour the mixture into a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish or a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, and top with the remaining ½-cup cheddar and the cherry tomatoes.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.
Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving big spoonfuls to all your friends.
Original recipe courtesy of Texas Monthly.