Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eating Whole Foods: Pasta with Braised Pork Shoulder Sugo

By: The Food Hunter

The holiday season is upon us and at my house that means lots of cooking. Growing up Italian we celebrate just about every occasion with some sort of pasta dish. Whether it's lasagna before Thanksgiving turkey, baked ziti before the Christmas ham or stuffed shells before the Easter Lamb there's always a pasta course being served.

When my mom turned 70 earlier this month one thing our dinner guests could count on was that there would be pasta. To make things easy I decided to do a one pot meal; which included a long cooked pork sugo. Traditionally we call our "tomato sauce" "gravy" but this was not my traditional recipe so I have no problems referring to it as sauce. A 2lb pork shoulder is slow cooked and shredded with canned tomatoes, vegetables and herbs producing a sauce like non other I've ever tried. Simple to make, with all the prep work done in advance, it was a hearty meal perfect for a crowd.

Wide pasta noodles are best for this dish. I will often make my own pasta but when I don't have time I love the selection they have at Whole Foods Market. They have many varieties of dried pasta available in a multitude of shapes; and made from wheat, rice, corn, beans, and a host of lesser known grains and vegetables. Enter below to win a gift card to Whole Foods and start exploring their pasta selection today.

Pasta with Braised Pork Shoulder Sugo
(adapted from Mario Batali)

2 tbl. olive oil
2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
2 carrots, grated
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. fresh basil
2 bay leaves
Pinch of dried chili flakes
1 c. red wine
2 - 28 oz. can whole Italian tomatoes with juice
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 c. water
salt & pepper
Pappardelle or another wide pasta
1 c. fresh basil, roughly torn

Trim and remove any visible fat from the pork shoulder. Using a paper towel, pat the surface of the pork shoulder so that it is dry. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is good and hot sear the pork on all sides, approximately 3 minutes a side, until there is a nice golden brown crust. Once the pork shoulder is seared on all sides, remove from the pan and place on a plate.

Add carrots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt. Add garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, chili flakes, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 1-2 minutes.

Add red wine and stir. Let cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, until the wine has slightly reduced. Add the tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, and water. Stir to combine. Add the pork back into the pan. The liquid should be at least 1/3 up the meat, but more is great. You will be turning the meat throughout the process to ensure all parts of the pork come in contact with the sauce.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover, but leave a slight opening to allow the sauce to reduce slightly as it cooks. Check on the pork now and again, turning as necessary, making sure it is at a simmer, and stirring only occasionally. Cook the pork for about 4 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender and is easily shredded by a fork.

When pork is ready, remove from the pan into a bowl. Using two forks, shred into desired bite-size pieces. Using a wooden spoon, smash apart any whole tomatoes in the pan that haven't already broken down. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Return shredded pork to the pan, stir, and let continue to cook for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. You can let it continue to cook on low until you are ready to serve.
When ready to serve: Bring a large pot of water and a generous helping of salt to a boil. Add in pasta and cook to package directions, making sure pasta is al dente. Do not overcook! Drain in a colander, then immediately add pasta into the pork ragu along with the fresh basil. Cook for another minute to allow the pasta to absorb the pork ragu flavor and the basil to slightly wilt, and serve.

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  1. Truthfully, homemade! (mama Rosa!!) I like to use semolina and eggs, sometimes I add lemon or fresh basil, etc. My favorite pasta is probably ziti!!!

  2. I love a homemade ravioli :) Preferably mushroom!

  3. I love when meat falls off the bone like this pork looks like it did! ;) I like it with BEEF and LAMB especially :D

  4. I like all different kinds of pasta depending what I am having it with. The rainbow spiral ones are one of my favorites. I love it cold on top of my spinach salads. I really don't have any brand preferences when it comes to pasta.

  5. I love pasta! My favorite is ravioli

  6. I love all of it, no way i can pick a favorite

  7. Barilla farfalle. It's bite-sized and holds up to any sauce.

  8. I like Ronzoni ziti.