On Saturday, I tried to think of something that would be easy to make for a group but special enough for company, and after flipping through several cookbooks for inspiration, I decided on a pork ragu. I used a mixture of ground pork and sausage because I was pressed for time (it still took 2 1/2 hours), but if you have 4 hours or so, you could make this with pork shoulder. The long simmering time is what allows it to really develop its flavor, so try not to take too many shortcuts!
1 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 oz can of tomato paste
1 c red wine (I used primitivo)
1 lb ground pork
1 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 32 oz can of crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
10 sprigs of thyme, tied into a bundle with butcher’s twine
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots, garlic, and celery, and stir to coat with oil. Season with salt. Allow the vegetables to really brown, then stir and allow to brown again. Repeat 2-3 times.
Add the tomato paste the the pot and stir to coat the vegetables in tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to brown for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning. Add the wine, stir, and allow to reduce by half.
Add the sausage and ground pork. Break up the pork with a wooden spoon, and begin to brown the pork. (It will be hard to tell because it will be covered in wine and tomatoes at this point, but give it 10 to 15 minutes to cook.)
Add the can of crushed tomatoes, then fill the can halfway with water, and pour into the pot. (This helps you to include any remaining tomato from the can in your sauce.) Add the paprika, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir, taste, and add additional salt if necessary.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 – 3 hours, depending how much time you have. Every 15 minutes, stir, taste, and add water if necessary. Season again if desired.
Server with parmesan over plain spaghetti, or make buttered egg noodles with herbs (see below). I highly recommend the egg noodle option!
Egg Noodles with Herbs
(From Tori Ritchie’s Braises and Stews)
12 oz egg noodles
1 c Italian parsley, chopped
2 T chives, finely chopped
1/2 c basil, chopped
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
Prepare the egg noodles according to the directions on the package. Remove from the pot and drain.
Add the butter and oil to the empty still-hot pot. The residual heat will melt the butter. Add the drained noodles back to the pot and toss. Season with salt and pepper, then toss with parsley, chives, and basil.