Classic, comforting braised pork ragu served with homemade pasta and lots of parmesan cheese grated over top. This is the ultimate comfort food. A big chunk of pork shoulder is slowly cooked in a flavorful braising liquid with flavors of onion & garlic, sweet tomatoes, rich red wine, and aromatic herbs running throughout until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender. The pork gets pulled apart as the liquid reduces down into a sauce, and then it all gets spooned over the pasta. It’s the most delicious recipe to save for a crisp fall night at home!
It’s the time of year where a big pot of something is usually always on my stovetop. Whether it’s a soup, a batch of braised short ribs, or a pot of chili, nothing is more comforting than something slowly simmering away and filling the kitchen with an intoxicating smell that gets everyone excited for dinner.
And this braised pork ragu is just that – comforting, warming, satisfying, and full of rich flavor that can only come from a low and slow cooking process.
braised pork ragu – the details
You’ll start by searing the pork. Ask your butcher for a 2 pound, bone-in piece of pork shoulder. If this isn’t a cut of meat you’re familiar cooking with, don’t be intimidated. I think larger cuts of meat that are cooked low and slow are actually the easiest to cook well. There’s really no chance of overcooking it and the pot essentially does the work for you.
Searing it first in hot oil forms a really nice, deep brown crust. This will give the meat both flavor and texture. You’ll pull the meat out and start to add in the ingredients that make up the braising liquid, one by one – onion, shallot, and carrots first, then lots of garlic, a little tomato paste, red wine, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and finally plenty of fresh, hearty herbs.
The pork goes back in and simmers for about three hours in this braising liquid.
The result is extremely tender meat that gets pulled apart into melt-in-your mouth pieces. Plus, a liquid that is ready to be simmered down into a rich sauce. It’s one of my favorite, most relaxing cooking processes…and the more you do it, the more you’ll grow to love it.
The meat gets stirred back into the sauce and is ready for the pasta! You can of course use store-bought pasta for this, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make homemade pasta while the pork is braising.
Making homemade pasta is, again, one of the most relaxing processes. The pasta comes out softer, silkier, and especially fresh tasting compared to dried pasta from the store.
The best part? Putting it all together! You’ll give the pasta a quick toss in the sauce, transfer it to a large platter, and then spoon the rest of that meaty goodness right over top. Finish it off with some freshly grated parmesan, black pepper, and any extra herbs you have on hand.
It truly doesn’t get better than this for a comforting meal at home.
If you’re looking for more cozy recipes, here are a few to try:Print
Braised Pork Ragu
pork shoulder slowly braised in a rich, herby tomato sauce, served over pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese over top
- 1 (2 lb) bone-in pork shoulder
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled + diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 small handful of fresh thyme, sage, and oregano (tied in kitchen twine)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- ¾ lb dried fettuccine (or use the homemade pasta recipe below)
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Let the pork shoulder sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Season generously with salt on all sides. Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom. Sear the pork for 2-3 minutes per side, or until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork out of the pot.
- Reduce the heat to medium. To the pan drippings, add the onion, shallot, and carrots. Season with salt. Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
- Stir in the tomato paste. Deglaze the pot with the red wine. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to release all of the flavors. Let simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, bundle of herbs, and another pinch of salt.
- Add the pork shoulder back to the pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer, reduce the heat all the way low, and cover the pot. Cook for 1 ½ hours. Flip the pork shoulder over and cover the pot again, this time leaving the lid slightly cracked to allow some steam to escape. Cook for another 1 ½ hours.
- Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Raise the heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Use two forks to shred the pork and discard the bone.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water – approximately 3 minutes for fresh (recipe below) or 1 minute less than the package’s instructions for dried.
- Return the shredded pork to the sauce. Stir well and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir to coat.
- Use tongs to transfer the pasta to a serving platter. Spoon extra sauce & meat over top. Garnish with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese, more black pepper, and any extra oregano leaves.
a basic recipe for homemade pasta
- 225 g all-purpose flour
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt
- Pour the flour into a large, shallow bowl (or you can do this on the countertop). Make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks, water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to the well. Use a fork to whisk the yolks, gradually pulling the flour into the liquid.
- Continue to whisk until the flour absorbs most of the liquid. Use your hands to bring the dough into a shaggy ball, pressing all of the loose pieces together (at this point, it will seem like the dough is too dry, but it will continue to absorb in the next step).
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time (keeping the rest covered), lightly dust both sides and then use a rolling pin to flatten it. Run the dough through a pasta roller on setting #1. Fold the dough in a tri-fold and run it through again.
- Continue to run it through the pasta roller, working from setting #1 to setting #5. Place the rolled sheets on a floured surface and keep them covered. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Gently fold the sheets of dough and then cut them into ½” pieces, creating long strands of pasta. Separate the strands of pasta. Cook in boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes.
If you’d like to make the dough ahead of time, you can refrigerate it (after step 3) for up to 3 days and then pull it to room temperature for about 45 minutes before rolling.