This one-pot wonder takes pork at its budget best and makes a rich ragú
We’re always on the lookout for a great new pasta sauce. While this recipe from Kay Chun may not have started out as one, that’s how it ended up on our table. Braising the pork shoulder until it was falling-apart tender took less time than you’d think. Cutting it into ½ inch cubes speeds up the dish. And we confess to changing up the original recipe by chopping its carrots, onions, and garlic in the food processor. And because we love the whole Marzano tomatoes to have a little heft, we broke them up with our hands as requested. Having cut the prep time down, we nestled the pot in the oven and waited. We used fresh fettuccine pasta which meant once the ragu was cooked, it took just a couple more minutes till the dish arrived on the table.
Pork’s reputation may not be the healthiest…but take it from WebMD, pork’s a good source of high-quality protein.
WebMD.com points out that although pork is against the dietary laws of both Jews and Muslims, “consumed in moderation, it can make a good addition to a healthy diet”. Pork is a good source of protein, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, Iron and Zinc, and selenium. And what does that mean? WebMD goes on to say: The selenium in pork is essential for proper thyroid function.” Six ounces of pork has more than 100% of the RDA of selenium. “Vitamins B6 and B12, also found abundantly in pork, are essential for blood cell formation and brain function. Pork is also an excellent source of iron — the heme-iron found in pork is absorbed very easily by the human digestive system.” And finally, “Pork is actually richer in thiamine, a B vitamin required for a range of bodily functions, than other red meats like beef and lamb.” Wait! What’s this about “red meat”? Isn’t pork “the other white meat? Not unless you’re trying to sell more pork. Read about one of the most successful of all culinary re-boots here: https://chewingthefat.us.com/2020/12/drunken-greek-pork-stew-from-fine-cooking.html.
What is Pork Shoulder?
Pork shoulder is a triangular cut made just above the front leg of the pig. Pork shoulder goes by several names including picnic roast, Boston butt, blade roast, and pork butt. It is relatively inexpensive because it has quite a lot of fat. When I commented on the amount of fat in the Pork Shoulder I was buying to make the dish, the butcher at our Whole Foods said “Of course it’s fat, it’s a pig.” The shoulder of a pig is an area that gets a lot of exercise when a pig is alive. As a result, it is flavorful but there is less fat marbling and the meat will be tough unless cooked correctly. Here’s the recipe and some other Pork recipes to enjoy.
Braised Pork Ragù
One of the most economical cuts of pork turns into a rich pork ragu that's just right atop pasta, polenta or mashed potatoes.
- 1/4 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1.5 lbs Pork Shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Cooked pasta or polenta or mashed potatoes
- Parmigiano Cheese, grated for serving.
- Parsley to garnish
- Step 1 Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Step 2 In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add half the pork to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining pork and season with salt and pepper.
- Step 3 Using the steel blade, process the carrots, onion, and garlic until they are finely chopped.
- Step 4 Reduce heat to medium-low and add carrots, onions, and garlic until the onion is softened about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
- Step 5 Add pork and any accumulated juices then add the tomatoes crushing them with your hands as you add them. Stir in the cream and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat then cover and bake in the oven until the pork is tender and the sauce is thickened, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Step 6 Prepare the polenta or mashed potatoes while the stew cooks. Fresh pasta cooks in just 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the pork ragu with some cheese and parsley if you like