This post comes to us courtesy of Chi Dixon, blogger at Chi’s Food.
This is the dish I served at a recent potluck, but I’m going to save the orichette for another post as there is a bit more technique involved. Still, this pork ragu is always a crowd pleaser.
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large onion (I prefer sweet varieties like Vidalia)
- Slow Cooker (this is a personal preference, as you could also slow cook on the stove top or in the oven, but the slow cooker allows you to walk away and the sauce will practically cook itself)
- 1 to 2 peeled, smashed garlic cloves
- Pork shoulder, 3 to 4 pounds, depending on the size of your pots
- 4 to 6 good marrow or soup bones if you can get them, in 1 to 2 inch chunks
- Beef stock (enough to cover the meat in your stock pot)
- 3-quart stock pot
- 1 box (26 ounces) strained or diced tomatoes
- One small can tomato paste (the tomato paste adds a significant tang to the final sauce with little effort)
- 3 Tbs. dried herbs, or more to taste (my favorite blend is Herbes de Provence)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a slow cooker crock. Roughly chop the onion into 1 to 2-inch cubes and use it to line the bottom of the pot.
Drop in one to two cloves of garlic. Add pork shoulder and marrow bones, loosely packed.
Pour beef stock over the contents, leaving space at the top (at least an inch from the rim of the slow cooker). The pork fat will render, so if you fill the stock to the brim the contents may overflow. Cook at medium to medium-high heat for 4 to 6 hours minimum, until the pork falls apart with little effort using a fork.
Separate the pork from the cooking liquid and set aside. Don’t throw away the cooking liquid, as it will be part of your sauce base. Don’t worry about getting all the bits; this step is really just to make handling the whole lot a little easier.
In a 3-quart pot, add the strained tomatoes and tomato paste. Pour some of the fat off of the cooking liquid from the pork, and add the cooking liquid little by little to the tomato mix to create the base for the sauce.
Once the tomatoes are fully incorporated, add the pork back to the mix. Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste (tasting as you go along is key) and mix well. Take it easy on the salt right now; you’re going to add Parmesan, which is quite salty in its own right.
Turn the heat on to medium and let the sauce simmer for a bit, allowing the herbs to bring a nice savory flavor and fragrance to the sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes, then stir in the Parmesan. Add salt once you’ve tasted it, remember it’s easier to add salt than it is to fix something that’s been over-salted.
Serve the sauce over fat slices of crusty bread or fresh pasta, or for the carb-conscious, slices of grilled eggplant work well in their place. Serves 15 to 18.
About the author: Chi didn’t realize she could cook until she was well into her 20’s – then she discovered that it was one of the things she liked doing the most! As a top 100 contestant on MasterChef season 2, Chi discovered her hobby was more of a passion and has been exploring this passion since. Her objective is to de-mystify cooking and make it approachable and fun for anyone with the desire to set foot in the kitchen.