Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pork Ragu

Growing up, beef roasts were the traditional Sunday meal in our house. Thrown in a crockpot with some vegetables and left to simmer away all morning while everyone was at church. When we would get home the smell had perfumed the whole house, making everyone's mouth water. Dinner couldn't come fast enough. While I don't eat pot roasts as often as I used to, their smell and taste bring me back to those happy Sunday memories.

Even while beef roasts showed up frequently on the menu at my house, pork roasts were quite uncommon. I think the only time a pork shoulder roast made it home to my house was for a meal of pulled pork, the roast thrown into a crockpot to cook all day while my mom was at work, then finished with a jar of barbecue sauce from the supermarket. Still one of my favorites, even though I now like to jazz it up a little with homemade barbecue sauce and buns.

So when I saw this recipe for pork ragu, I decided I had to try it. I love trying new things, and a pork roast that didn't become pulled pork was definitely new. I am so glad I gave this recipe a try, it turned out absolutely delicious. The pork was incredibly tender and moist, the sauce richly flavored with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and wine. Not only that, but it was also very easy to put together. Just toss it in the oven when everything is set and in a few hours all you need to do is boil some pasta and you have a easy and delicious dinner that didn't demand your attention all afternoon in the kitchen. A win-win situation in my book.

Like I said, this ragu is super simple. You just need to brown up the meat for a couple minutes a side (which I didn't do very well this time around, but it still turned out great), and sauté some onions and garlic. Then everything is added to the pot which is placed in the oven for the next 3-4 hours. Whenever you're ready to eat, just boil up some pasta, toss together a salad, and you have a meal!

The leftovers from this ragu were great. You can put it on buns for a pork sandwich, or do what I did and put it on top of a baked sweet potato, delicious! Whatever you decide it will reheat great, so no worries about having too much. Another bonus, my roast only cost me about $7, and I got quite a few meals out of it so this is a great meal if you're on a budget. In other words, there is no reason not to try this recipe, so give it a shot, you won't be disappointed!

Brown up the roast (try to do a better job than me!)

 Everything else, ready to go
(don't you just love fresh herbs!)

 Bubbling and ready for the oven

 Pulling it apart

 Super tender

 I opted for some homemade pasta


Pork Ragu
  • 2 to 2 1/2-pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small pat butter
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • Small handful of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, for smokiness 
  • 1-2 pounds of pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesean
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 8-10 minutes in all.

Pull out the roast, add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for a couple minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce. Return the roast to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven. Braise for 3-4 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. Pull the meat apart with two forks, then add back to pot and stir. 

Cook 1 to 2 pounds of pasta according to package directions. When it’s is ready, put into individual bowls and top with ragu and lots of Parmesan cheese.

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