Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: My PPN Entree...Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My PPN Entree...Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu

I recently borrowed a copy of On Top Of Spaghetti from my friend Rubee. The authors, Johanne Killeen and George Germon, are the owners of the famous Al Forno restaurant in Providence RI. I've never been to the restaurant but judging by some of the recipes in this book I would sure like to go.

Since I'm hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week (Don't forget your submissions are due by Thursday) I thought what better place to pull a recipe then from a book dedicated to all things pasta. With so many options it was really hard to pick just one. After going back and forth with my husband we finally decided on Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu. I think we both liked the idea of chopped fresh fennel in the sauce.

As always we made a few changes to the recipe:
We used country style ribs (only because we couldn't find pork spareribs).
We added 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
We left out the cup of tomato juice and added slightly more chopped tomatoes.
We used red wine not white.

Penne with Sunday Pork Ragu (adapted from On Top of Spaghetti)

Ingredients 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound pork spareribs
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
1 3/4 cups chopped canned tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 pound dried penne or spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large terra-cotta or heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add the pork, and brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a plate; discard fat. Toss onions, carrots, celery, fennel bulb and seeds, salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil into the pot. Cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft without browning, about 30 minutes.

Add wine and cook, uncovered, until is almost completely reduced. Return pork to pot, and add the chopped tomatoes and tomato juice. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the pork is falling-apart tender. Keep warm over low heat while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water, and drop in the penne. Cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain the pasta, and transfer to a heated serving bowl. Add enough of the sauce to coat each morsel generously. Arrange spareribs around penne. Serve immediately with extra sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano passed at the table.


  1. I like fennel - but never think to use it... Great idea!

  2. This looks excellent. I love Sunday gravy!

  3. This looks so good. I love these kind of ragu sauces, definitely my favorite way to eat pasta.

  4. What a great looking dish! I love the addition of fennel. I bet it smelled wonderful cooking!

  5. Oh my gosh Theresa.. this recipe rocks! I love the ingredients. I have never made a pork ragu, plus the addition of finocchio, just lovely!

  6. Looks sooooooo good. As for using fennel bulb, I often use it in place of celery, which is not my favorite.

    Thanks for sharing the dish with Presto Pasta Nights and even more, for hosting this week.