Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pork Ragu Improvisation

As I continue to make my way through the winter meat order, I have been searching for new ways to use the beef chuck roasts and pork shoulders of which we have an abundance. I was thrilled to find this amazing recipe by Andy on Dinner A Love Story for Pork Ragu. The idea is that you braise a pork shoulder in tomatoes and red wine, shred the meat and serve over pasta. This dish is so easy to make, so delicious, and it turns out so easy to riff off of to make another yummy meal.

The first time I made this dish I followed Andy's recipe to the letter. But after I removed the meat and shredded it up, I was concerned that there wasn't enough sauce for the six other people who were joining us for dinner. So chopped up some peppers, mushrooms and onions and added them plus another 2 cups or so of diced tomatoes and some more wine to the pot. The result: a rich and hearty sauce to go with the tender pork and pasta. It was amazingly delicious.

When I made this dish last week, I tried it a different way to see if I could achieve a similar result with fewer steps. Turns out, I could and I did. Here is the new and adjusted recipe for a more veggie filled pork ragu.

-Preheat the oven to 325.
-Pat dry a 3lb or so pork shoulder (also called Boston butt) and cover with salt and pepper.
-Chop up one large onion, 2 bell peppers, 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery and a good handful of mushrooms.
-Heat a large Dutch oven on the stove and cover bottom with olive oil and one good pat of butter. Sear the pork on all sides.
-Remove meat and set aside.
-Add all of the chopped veggies except the mushrooms to the pot and saute for a few minutes. Add about a cup of red wine. (A healthy pour in to the pot. Don't bother measuring.)
-Nestle the pork into the veggies. Pour about 3 cups of diced tomatoes over and around the meat. You want the liquid to be 1/2 to 2/3 up the meat.

-Cover the pot and put it in the oven for 3 to 4 hours. Check every once in a while to make sure you don't need to add a little liquid. The meat should be falling off the bone. 
-Remove meat and shred with two forks. Set aside.
-Return pot to stove top over medium heat. Add mushrooms and another 2-3 cups of tomatoes and/or tomato sauce.
-Cook for 15 minutes or so. Season to your taste.
-Serve pork and sauce over pasta, rice, cous cous, etc...

PS: My children who can be a tad picky loved this meal. They barely noticed all of the meat and veggies covering their noodles.

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