rigatoni with spicy calabrese-style pork ragu
Despite my pasta game getting pretty good, I often go out to Italian restaurants and order some fabulous pasta dish that is far better than anything I’ve made at home. I realized the common thread in all the yummies I was eating out was that whatever pasta dish it was usually had pork and sausage, not ground beef. Growing up a good little Midwesterner, I usually threw ground beef into every sauce I made. So I figured enough was ENOUGH! Onto the pork! I scoured the interwebs for a recipe that had everything I thought would get me that restaurant-quality flavor-flave, and Epicurious nailed it again. It was EPIC. I can’t wait to experiment with my new pork-rules pasta sauce knowledge. More recipes to come!
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 4 1/2 Hours (this is a make on Sunday kind of thing!)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 peeled carrot, cut into 1″ pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1″ pieces
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp fresh oregano leaves
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb ground pork
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tbs tomato paste
1 lb rigatoni or penne
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan plus more for topping
Pulse the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup parsley in a food processor until finely chopped. Also, I tried this in my Vitamix like a boss, and not so bueno – stick to the food processor. Once all chopped, transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Then purée the tomatoes with juices in the processor and set aside.
Next up, heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat and add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add ground pork, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Then, using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.
Increase the heat to medium-high in the pot you just pulled the sausage out of. Then add the reserved vegetable mixture to drippings in the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes.
In a small bowl stir the tomato paste and 1 cup of water together and add to the pot with veggies. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 6-8 minutes.
Add reserved meat and tomato purée and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, adding more water as needed to keep meat nearly submerged – I did this pretty consistently, so keep an eye on it. Cook until meat is tender, about 4 hours – TRUST ME its worth it. Season with salt.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid (I always forget to do this – always. It was fine without – your call).
Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce; stir to coat. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Divide among bowls, top with more Parmesan and parsley for garnish.
This is hands down, one of my favorite new pasta recipes – give it a try and let me know what you think! Woo-woo!