Hearty Pork Ragù

I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to make a post yesterday! I had a bit of a disaster while baking on Sunday. I was able to salvage my project and turn it into something that I really loved in the end, but it still took me something like 7 or 8 hours from the moment I started to the moment I finished. I had to take a serious bread mid-way through to brainstorm, because not only did I want to be able to bring in treats to work on Monday, but I wasn’t about to let $15 or $20 worth of ingredients go down the drain! I’m sure that you’ve all been there: standing in your kitchen, watching all of your hard work melt or fall or become useless in one way or another, and trying desperately to figure out a solution to the seemingly never ending problems that continue to present themselves. It’s miserable, especially when you have an idea of this beautiful presentation in your head and reality (or in my case, gravity) decides to turn it all upside down. I will post what I ended up making later this week – I’m pretty proud of myself for giving what might have been a tragedy a happy ending after all. I remember my very first big baking disaster: I was in college and I had just moved in with Kramer. It was my first Thanksgiving outside of my home, and my parents had asked me to bring Kramer to dinner. I decided that I was going to make the pumpkin pies, and set to work. It being my first time making a pie, I used store bought pie crust, of course, but despite that, I couldn’t seem to get it to work. It kept falling in the oven, or burning, or not baking through. I must have gone through 6 or 8 pie crusts, crying midway through, no doubt. Kramer was so helpful, though, and saw me through the Great Pumpkin Pie Disaster, and I eventually made one pie that turned out the way it was supposed to. Kramer was equally lovely this past Sunday, standing in the kitchen, staring down at what was sure to be trash in a matter of minutes, and helping me to turn it all around. I know it might sound dramatic, but those of you who bake and cook will understand how heartbreaking it is to having something you’ve worked so hard on turn out so terribly! Sometimes it happens, though, and you just have to roll with the punches.

Thankfully, this ragù turned out wonderfully. I had bought pork bones a few days ago, and despite not quite knowing what to do with them, they seemed interesting enough, so I began to putz around my kitchen, trying to figure out what to do. Surprisingly enough, it took me a while to decide on one of the most beloved dishes: simple pasta with a hearty ragù sauce. The difference between this ragù and the bolognese is very minimal, but in taste and texture, it makes a world of difference. Instead of using ground meat, I used big hunks of meaty pork bones that I simmered for a long time in order for the meat to fall right off the bone, which I then added to a sauce I had already made and had simmering. The pork bones leave behind a rich stock that can be frozen and used later, but it is not really used in the actual pasta (except for a few tablespoons or so, for flavor). It is perhaps closer to a Barese ragù, which is a bit more rustic than the ragù alla Bolognese. The regions of Italy are all unique, of course, so while they may use many of the same base ingredients, the dish itself will always turn out slightly different, which I think is a beautiful thing. The sauce was melt-in-your-mouth good, let me say that much. A little bit went a long way, and the big chunks of pork were perfectly moist. They also added a welcome change of texture from the pasta to the vegetables to the tomatoes. This is a subtle, crowd-pleasing ragù that’s easy to make and very rewarding when it finally finds itself on your plate.


Hearty Pork Ragù
Your ingredients.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Dice the celery and onion for your stock.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Saute the onions and celery in olive oil until softened.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Add in 1 cup red wine, 2 cups chicken stock, pork bones, basil, and enough water to cover. Add in the salt, pepper, and thyme, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or so, until the meat falls off the bones.

Hearty Pork Ragù
When the meat is about finished, begin your tomato sauce. Saute your diced onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Turn the heat down to medium, add in your garlic, and cook until just fragrant.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Add in the basil and stir until wilted.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Add in 1/2 cup of red wine and cook until it has reduced to half. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.

Hearty Pork Ragù
When the pork is ready, remove the meat from the pot and separate from the bones.

Hearty Pork RagùHearty Pork Ragù
I did this by simply straining the pot with the meat in it, leaving behind a rich stock. I added the meat, onions, and celery to the sauce.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Simmer the sauce with the meat in it for another hour or so, over medium heat, until the sauce has thickened. Add in two tablespoons of cream, for richness, and stir to combine.

Hearty Pork Ragù
Serve over cooked pasta and topped with a little grated Parmesan cheese!

Hearty Pork Ragù
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
Stock
  • 1.5 - 2 pounds pork bones (or another tougher cut of pork)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 leaves basil, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
Ragù
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 leaves basil, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 28 oz. can diced, whole, or stewed tomatoes (depends on how big you like your chunks of tomato), with juices
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (use more or less according to how spicy your like your food; I probably used a bit more than ½ teaspoon)
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 pound pasta, for serving
Instructions
  1. Start by making your stock and cooking the pork. Over medium-high heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add in the ½ diced onion and diced celery. Cook until softened, then add in the 1 cup red wine, 2 cups chicken stock, pork bones, basil, and enough water to cover. Add in the salt, pepper, and thyme, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or so, until the meat falls off the bones.
  2. When the pork is almost ready, begin your sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in another pot, then add in the diced onion. Cook until softened, then add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or so, over medium heat. Add in the basil, stir until wilted, then add in the red wine, turn to medium-high, and cook until reduced by half.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste to the sauce pot, then add the thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Strain the meat from the stock from the other pot, and remove any meat that is still sticking to the pork bones. Add the meat, onions, and celery to the pot with the tomatoes and cook, over medium heat, until reduced and thickened. Add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, if you like, and stir to combine. Serve over cooked pasta and topped with a bit of Parmesan cheese. Serves 4-6.

 

17 Responses

  1. Wei-Wei says:

    Mmm, that looks amazing! I’ve never had ragu in a restaurant, and I don’t know if I’ve made it before, but whenever I see it I always think it looks absolutely delicious!

  2. Jane M says:

    Wow I’ve been looking for a recipe to make with these giant pasta noodles I bought at the store a few weeks ago. Looks like I need to buy some pork on my next voyage to the market! YUM! My mouth is watering right now!

  3. Megan says:

    I want this for lunch and dinner and then tomorrow again. AND I might’ve just showed this to one of my friends at work and we both are feeling crazy about it. And hungry about it. :)

  4. Tina from PA says:

    This looks so cozy ! I have to try this soon. Cann’t wait to see your next post,of course you can turn a baking disaster into a wonderful treat ! I ‘m sitting on pins and needles waiting !

  5. Michelle says:

    Your ragu looks very hearty and satisfying. Yum. Can’t wait to see what you made over the wknd. Very suspenseful post! :)

  6. i hate kitchen disasters–but gotta love when you can turn it into a good thing, right? this ragu looks AWESOME though!

    • Sydney says:

      @Natalie: Thank you muchly!

      @Anthony: I made it on a lazy Sunday afternoon while watching re-runs of Lost, but I’m sure it would be equally tasty with football, too. :)

  7. Anthony says:

    “Sometimes it happens, though, and you just have to roll with the punches.”

    And order pizza. 😉

    You’ve got me curious to see what you came up with. As for the ragu… Yum! That looks perfect for fixing on a lazy Sunday afternoon while watching football. Can’t wait to try it. :)

  8. Hello dear Sidney,

    This recipe turned out great, thanks for sharing. As for the other one we will have the change to see it in the coming days but I totally understand what you’re talking about. One time I was baking something so carefully and with so much joy to my dear family and when the time arrived to flip the cake up side down everything fell onto the ground, I have no idea how, but it happened. I was so sad I started crying and then my mother and boyfriend started to cheer me up but anyway it was not how it was suppose to be so I got so frustated. But indeed there are a more important things in life LOL

    Greets from Portugal.
    Ana Luísa

    • Sydney says:

      @Pitadas & Colheradas: I’ve definitely been there (crying and all). It’s just such a disappointment, but more often than not you realize quickly that it’s not a big deal – it’s just shocking at first when everything goes wrong! Thanks for stopping by!

      @Jen: Thank you! This was the first time cooked with them and I was quite pleased! I’m glad you liked the mac and cheese and thank you so much for the kind words!

  9. Jen says:

    Sydney, this looks great! My mom is always one to buy pork bones for Filipino dishes she makes so I think I might have to steal some and make this.

    I’ve totally been there when it comes to baking disasters! I’m always crushed when something doesn’t work out or a recipe just doesn’t end up tasting good. It happens to every good cook but the real test comes when you’re able to salvage what you can and improvise! We all know you’re a great cook. 😀

    PS: To illustrate my point, I should mention that I browsed the recipe index and made your version of Martha Stewart’s mac and cheese for my mom’s potluck tomorrow. It came out amazing!

  10. […] you’ve been waiting for. I told you about the baking disaster I had this past Sunday in my last post, and this is what I have to show for it. I am still very happy with these, and think that maybe […]

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