What better way to greet the weekend than with a slow-braised, comforting meal like pork ragu? After making a relaxing meal on Saturday or Sunday, you can enjoy delicious leftovers during busy weeknights.
Pork ragu has humble roots in a relatively inexpensive cut of meat: pork shoulder, also called picnic roast or picnic shoulder. These tougher cuts require a long, slow braise to tenderize.
The ragu starts by searing the pork, then sautéing aromatics, the Italian culinary holy trinity of onions, celery, and carrots, along with some garlic. Red wine is used to deglaze the pot—be sure to scrape up all those caramelized bits from the meat and vegetables for maximum flavor.
Once the tomatoes and herbs have been added, the real work is done and it’s all about patience. A slow braise in the oven rewards you with a roast that easily shreds with a fork, reminiscent of BBQ pulled pork, but with an Italian twist.
- 2 pounds pork shoulder
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 2 medium carrots (diced)
- 1 celery rib (diced)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves removed & chopped, discard stems)
- 1 (4-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 pound pappardelle (cooked according to package directions)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to serve)
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 325 F with a rack positioned in the center. Season pork all over with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning a few times, until browned all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a large platter (it will not be cooked through).
Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until fragrant and the onions are slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and add the wine; bring to a boil. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, use scissors to cut the tomatoes in the can until finely chopped. Add the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and rosemary to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the pork and any juices collected on the plate back to the pan. Cover and bake on the center oven rack until pork is tender enough to pull apart with a fork, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Remove the rosemary sprig and discard. Use two forks to shred the pork, then stir the pork back into the sauce to combine.
Serve over hot pappardelle pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.