Braised Pork Ragu Amatriciana-Style
This is one of those recipes you’re going to want to hang on to. The rich ragu created by slow roasting the pork is thick enough to be served on a roll for an Italian sandwich, or layered over creamy polenta, or can be thinned down a bit to make a wonderful pasta sauce that is irresistible. The process is simple, but it does take some time to slow cook the pork shoulder, so plan this for a lazy Sunday and watch a movie while it cooks.While I got the idea for this recipe from The NY Times, that recipe was for a simpler arrabbiata style dish with a red chile flake infused red sauce. Knowing I had lots of my homemade pancetta in the freezer, I decided to take that idea a step further and to incorporate cooked pancetta pieces and caramelized onions into the final ragu.I LOVE this ragu – one batch makes enough for dinner for 4 plus leftovers for lunch or to freeze. You can layer the meat sauce over pasta or polenta just as is (which is what I did), or add a bit more tomato sauce and water to thin if you’d like a soupier sauce. Buon appetito!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pork shoulder (see Notes)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes with sauce, crushed by hand as you add them
- 1 cup red or white wine
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (to taste depending on your tolerance for heat)
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- 8 ounces pancetta cut into ¼-inch dice
- 3 cups sliced onions
- 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- Heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper, then sear until golden brown on both sides. Add 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, wine, garlic, red pepper flakes and basil. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender enough to shred with a fork, about 2-3 hours. Check the pork often and if the tomatoes are drying out, add a bit of water so the tomatoes won't scorch.
- While the meat is braising, cook the pancetta over medium to medium-low heat to render out as much of the fat as possible, taking care not to burn the pancetta. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Pour out all but a tablespoon of the rendered fat, then saute the onions in the same pan over low heat until soft and darkly caramelized, about 20 minutes.
- When the meat is tender, remove from the oven and remove any bones if you used a bone in roast. shred the meat with two forks in the pot and then add the final can of crushed tomatoes or sauce. Stir in the cooked pancetta and caramelized onions and serve over pasta or polenta with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.