The pasta sauce of my youth was my grandmother’s “gravy”- the tomato sauce cooked on Sunday mornings filled with meatballs, sausage and braciole. I still dream about those afternoons around the table with relatives and no matter how many times I try to recreate her sauce, mine is not quite the same. At any rate as much as I love this Italian American classic, I crave a good ragu or bolognese.
I’ve been thinking about trying this pork shoulder ragu for some time after seeing it on Food 52. I have a thing for pork and am happy any time I can throw a pot in the oven and let it simmer away for a few hours.
The only change I made to the recipe was to add a little more tomatoes-probably another half a can. Make sure to buy a box of Italian made noodles, invite a few friends over and wow them with this meaty ragu.
Pork Shoulder Ragu
2-pounds to 2 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast (up to 2 1/2 pounds), tied with twine if there are any loose pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small pat butter
1-28-ounce can Muir Glen whole tomatoes, with juice
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
1 small handful of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot sauce, for smokiness (Sriracha or Tabasco or Trader Joe’s Chili Sauce)
1 pound Pappardelle
1 handful Freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 325° F. Liberally salt and pepper the pork roast. Add olive oil and butter to large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high until butter melts, but does not burn. Add pork roast to pan and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes in all.
Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven. Braise for 3 to 4 hours, turning every hour or so. Add more liquid (water, wine, or tomato sauce) if needed. (The liquid should come to about 1/3 of the way up the pork.)
Meat is done when it’s practically falling apart. Put on a cutting board (remove the sprigs of herbs at the same time) and pull it apart with two forks, then add back to pot and stir.
Cook 1 to 2 pounds pasta according to package directions. When it’s is ready, put into individual bowls and top with ragu and lots of Parm. Alternately, toss the pasta with the ragu and a bit of pasta cooking water, as needed, and top with Parm.