This rustic pasta dish combines the silky smoothness of fresh pasta with the earthy flavours of fresh morels and rich soft pieces of lamb liver. It’s the perfect dish for cold wintery days or these early spring days when sunny weather is not quite there yet. The recipe is pretty simple and straightforward, yet the use of fresh ingredients makes it totally nutritious and delicious: make fresh pasta (dried is also fine, really), shortly sauté lamb liver together with some fresh morel mushrooms (which are in season now in April and early May) and add some fresh thyme, a bit of lemon juice and a splash of cream. Combine. Enjoy.
Yeah, I know. This dish doesn’t look particularly appealing with its muted beige and gray tones. Actually, it may not even sound that good to many people either. Plenty people are put off by the idea of eating lamb’s liver, or lamb, or liver in general. Even some of those that claim to be the biggest meat lovers might consider offal to only be fit for the consumption by other meat eaters in the animal kingdom. And that’s a real pity, since liver is very nutritious, inexpensive and can be very delicious when cooked well – it’s simply a waste to throw away such an offal-y beautiful piece of meat. Honestly? I prefer it over many other cuts of meat.
The dark, wrinkly little morel mushrooms, too, may look a bit odd and the fact that they are slightly poisonous when eaten raw and are easily confused with super-poisonous false morels make them sound a bit scary. But as any mushroom-lover knows, true morels are a rare treat and when you are able to get them, you definitely should. Having said that, at the moment of writing this post fresh morels are in season, but should you not be able to get them, this dish can easily be made with dried morels or another type of flavourful mushroom such as porcini or portobello. Similarly, here in Greece, lamb meat and offal is readily available (especially now during the Easter period) and I do love the slightly pungent and fatty flavour and texture of the meat. However, should lamb liver be a bit ‘too much’ for your liking, chicken liver can be used in this dish instead for a slightly milder and lighter version.
Fresh Egg Pasta with Lamb Liver and True Morels
- 150 – 200g fresh true morels
- 400g lamb liver, or mixed lamb pluck (I used liver and heart)
- 1 small yellow onion, or shallot
- 40g butter
- Few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 50ml whipping cream
- For fresh pasta (or use about 300 – 350g dried pasta):
- 150g ‘00’ flour
- 50g semolina
- 2 eggs*
- 1 egg yolk
- *you’ll need about 125 egg. If you eggs+yolk are very small, add some water to make 125g in total
- To make fresh pasta: place the flour on a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the egg, yolk and a pinch of salt in the middle of the well. With a fork, gently mix in the flour from the sides of the well until you can more easily knead the mixture with your hands. If the mixture seems too dry to form a dough, add a little bit of water. Once your ingredients have come together, lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. Wrap dough in some clingfilm and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Finally, after resting, either with a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out your pasta into a very thin sheets. Lightly dust with flour and fold dough over itself a few times (into a loose roll) to make it easier to cut. With a sharp knife, cut into thin strands, or use your pasta machine to do so. Lightly flour the strands again and leave on a clean cloth until needed.
- Prepare the ingredients for the pasta sauce: Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil. In the meantime, clean the morels very well by rinsing them with cold running water (they can be very sandy) and pat them dry. Slice the mushrooms in half or quarters and remove the stems if they are very woody [do not taste the morels raw because they need to be thoroughly heated before they are edible.] Cut the lambs liver into very small cubes and finely mince the onion.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the minced onion and sprigs of fresh thyme and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add the cleaned morels and cook them for about 3 - 4 minutes until they start to soften slightly, then add the lambs liver cubes and season with some salt and pepper. Sauté the meat for another 3 - 4 minutes, or until cooked through (don’t overcook!). Once the meat is cooked, drizzle over the lemon juice and add the whipping cream. Keep on heat until whipping cream is warm, then remove from heat and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Whilst you are preparing the sauce, cook the pasta. You’ll need about 2 - 3 minutes for fresh pasta, or as much time as needed according to instructions on the packaging for dried pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan with the meat ‘sauce’. Reserve some cooking liquid to stir in in case the mixture is too dry. Serve immediately.