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Braised Pork Ragu Pasta

Braised Pork Ragu Pasta is the ultimate, cozy weather, winter comfort food for special occasions and comforting weeknight dinners alike. It's unbelievably flavorful, rich, filled with concentrated tomato flavor, and tender, fall-apart, slow-simmered pork. It's elegant, but surprisingly simple to make. If you need a dish to impress, this is it!

Course Main, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Keyword braised pork ragu, pork ragu, pork ragu pappardelle, pork ragu pasta, pork shoulder ragu
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings 6
Author Molly | Spices in My DNA

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cubed into 1'' chunks, and trimmed of big pieces of fat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine*
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pound pasta of your choice (pappardelle, tagliatelle, or mafaldine are my top choices for this!)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup pasta water*
  • freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano, for serving

Instructions

  1. Begin by seasoning your pork cubes with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper until evenly coated. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add your pork in an even layer, and sear for 3-4 minutes per side until deeply golden (you'll need to do this in batches). Set pork aside on a plate or in a bowl.

  2. Lower heat slightly and add garlic. Sauté for 10-20 seconds, stirring freqently to ensure it doesn't burn. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste and wine, and cook for 1-2 minutes, letting the wine and tomato paste reduce and thicken. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, allspice, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine. Add the pork and its juices and stir. Cover and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally (maybe 3-4 times), or until pork is falling apart and sauce has significantly reduced.

  3. Shred the pork with two forks (you can do this easily while the pork is in the pot - no need to take it out, it should just fall apart), and remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs and bay leaf. Season to taste the ragu with additional salt and pepper if desired.

  4. Cook your pasta according to package directions (make sure you salt your water!), or until just al dente. Remember to reserve your pasta water (I just scoop a bunch out with a large mug or heat-safe glass measuring cup!) Drain pasta and add it back into the pot. Add a few scoops of ragu and a splash of pasta water, tossing until the ragu coats the pasta, adding more pasta water as needed. Add some freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano and toss once more. Portion into bowls, and top with more ragu. Serve with extra parm.

Recipe Notes

*Make sure you're using a good quality red wine here - something you'd enjoy drinking. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon, but any full-bodied, dry red wine will work great. The flavor only intensifies over the cooking time, so make sure it's good.
*It's so easy to forget to scoop out your pasta water - to ensure you don't forget, keep a mug or heat-safe glass measuring cup right next to the pot to remind you!
*Ragu can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.