Soon after I first met my husband, he introduced me to his “Aunt” Rosie & “Uncle” Pete, who were not actually his relatives, but part of a small group of friends that his father had come over from Sicily with. The first time he took me to their house, I was ushered into their very tiny home, promptly set down at the table and the parade of food and drink began.
Their home was full of wonderful smells and even more wonderful flavors. You could always find a HUGE pot of pasta sauce on the stove. The most interesting thing to me was that the sauce usually had a rack of spareribs or some other pork in it. I had never seen or tasted pasta sauce that included pork before and it was heavenly! Over the years, I have experimented with various sauces and never found anything quite as satisfying as the sauce that came out of that tiny kitchen. Recently I was thinking about that sauce again when I had an idea, and this Pork Ragu Pasta is a result of my experiment.
To begin with, I seasoned a boneless pork shoulder with a mixture of a fennel spice, roasted garlic & chili powder, wrapped it tightly and put it in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors marinate. I often use the spices from Napa Style as a foundation for my rubs as I did this time. You can find these spices at Napa Style. I threw the roast in the oven this morning on a roasting pan at 225 degrees for 3 hours and then turned it up to 300 degrees for another 3 hours. Check to make sure the internal temperature of the pork is at least 185 degrees. The pork should have a nice bark to it and pull apart easily with forks. Shred the pork, taking care to discard any excess fat.
The sauce itself is fairly straightforward.
- 1 – large red bell pepper – roasted, skin & seeds removed, then diced
- 1 – medium sweet yellow onion – diced
- 2 cloves garlic diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage – minced
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Olive Oil to cover bottom of pot
- 1 – 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- 1 – 14 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 cup red wine (Cabernet or Merlot)
Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven until medium hot. Add onion, garlic, red bell pepper, sage & pepper flakes. Saute until very soft, being careful not to burn. De-glaze pan with Red Wine. Simmer for a few minutes until flavors begin to develop. Put tomatoes & any juice in blender, blend until smooth and then add with tomato sauce to vegetables. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until sauce begins to slightly thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt & pepper as necessary. Reduce heat and let simmer on very low heat. Add approximately 2 cups of the shredded pork and continue to simmer for another half hour.
I used a Gigante Rotini to stand up to this hearty sauce, but another good choice would be a Papparadelle. Grate some fresh parmesan and enjoy!