Fork Tender Pork Ragu

Pork Ragu.jpg

Italian Ragu -a meaty sauce that, at its most basic, includes minced beef, diced onions, spiced tomatoes and a splash of red wine. Perhaps it’s the Southerner in me, but my preferred version calls for pork, slowly braised and served over a bowl of thick noodles. 

Makes about 2 quarts / Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons olive oil

2.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, cubed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, grated

2 celery stalks, diced

4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

1 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh parsley

0.25 cup chopped fresh parsley

8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano

1 pound pasta, cooked

Grated Parmesan

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until sizzling hot. Season the pork all over with salt and black pepper. Add the pork and onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until the pork is light brown all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.

  2. Add the carrots and celery to the same pot, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, 1 minute more.

  3. Add the wine and vinegar and cook, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot, until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes.

  4. Return the pork and onion to the pot and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, dried basil, dried oregano and red pepper flakes and stir to mix. Tie the bay leaves and herb sprigs in a bundle with kitchen twine and add to the pot.

  5. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and reduce the heat to a low simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, about 2 hours and 30 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a preheated 325 degrees F oven to cook, tightly covered.) Add a little water or broth as needed, until the sauce is thick and the pork is tender.

  6. Remove from the heat, remove the bay leaf bundle and stir in the fresh parsley, fresh basil and fresh marjoram. Serve warm over freshly cooked tagliatelle or pappardelle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

MAKE AHEAD This is one of those recipes that gets better after it sits for a day. So make ahead of time to have on hand for a weeknight dinner. Or pop in the freezer until ready to serve