While searching for ideas for a Thanksgiving dessert, I stumbled on a baked pasta dish that I’ve been meaning to make for a while. I’ve been saving it for a party, but just haven’t gotten around to having one and so I decided why wait? I should go ahead, make a smaller version and invite a few friends over for dinner. I did decrease the amount of pasta, but made a full portion of the pork sugo, knowing that I wouldn’t use it all and could pop the remainder in the freezer for another meal. I’m a sucker for anything made with pork and knew it wouldn’t be long before we’d be having it in another form. Tonight’s the night.

I’m including the recipe from an older issue of Food & Wine (October 2008) which is for the baked pasta dish. What we’re having tonight is cannelloni made with the luscious pork sugo. To be honest, when I made the baked pasta dish I found the recipe to be a little dry and added more wine and some water to the sauce. The leftover sauce was more like a mixture of pork and vegetables, perfect for a filling for cannelloni. I was lucky to have some marinara in the freezer and whipped up a batch for fresh pasta-I love leftovers!

Baked Orrecchiette with Pork Sugo

3-1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots cut into 1/4″ dice
4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4″ dice
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
One 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
4 thyme sprigs
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-1/2 pounds orecchiette
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven , heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and brown over medium-high heat, about 12 minutes. Do in batches, so that you don’t crowd the pan. Remove the pork to a bowl, lower the heat to medium and add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced in half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and return the pork to the pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor. Discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the pan with the sauce. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper, and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 3757 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite. Drain well. Add the orecchiette to the pot with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a large baking dish and sprinkle all over with the cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, until golden brown and is bubbling. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves: 8

To make the cannelloni I folded a heaping spoonful of ricotta into the pork and used this for the filling.

Photo courtesy of Food & Wine.

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