Ragu alla Bolognese is no stranger to those of us who love Italian food. The classic sauce, which originated in northern Italy, is made using a variety of meats, vegetables, white wine, and milk that are slow-cooked until tender, creating a hearty, rich, yet delicate flavor.
The term ragu is included in the name of this popular sauce, so it’s no wonder most people outside Italy don’t know that ragu actually refers to a broader category of Italian meaty sauces . Bolognese is simply the typical version of the city of Bologna.
why do you care? All bolognese sauces are ragu, but not all ragu are bolognese. In fact, the two sources are not always the same. Also, they are not necessarily interchangeable.
For example, this week’s recipe, Slow-Braised Pork Ragu, is made entirely with pork, as the name suggests, while Bolognese typically contains a variety of meats, including pork, beef, and veal. Also, red wine is used instead of white wine, which brings out the tomato flavor more strongly.
One thing all ragu sauces have in common is slow simmering. Whether you make it on the stovetop or in the oven, this sauce requires patience, but once you start cooking, it’s pretty hands-off.
However, it’s well worth the wait. There’s a certain kind of magic that seems to happen when pork and herbs are slowly simmered in red wine, tomatoes, chicken stock, and cream. The result is a super rich, flavorful sauce packed with tender pork that melts on your fork.
Of course, it’s delicious as an accompaniment to creamy polenta or pappardelle pasta, but its meaty texture also goes well with Italian hot sandwiches. Simply spoon a generous amount of sauce onto an Italian roll, top with mozzarella and palm cheese, and bake until melty and bubbly.
Oh, and one more thing: it freezes beautifully. Having a pint or two in your freezer will definitely come in handy during the busy holiday season.
Slow-cooked pork ragu
Makes about 8 1/2 cups.
The tender pork that melts in the super rich tomato sauce is a crowd-pleaser. This recipe is very convenient as it can be made in large quantities. You can also freeze some or all to serve over polenta, eat with pasta, or have on hand as a filling for the world’s best hot Italian sandwiches. From Meredith Dees.
• Trim and cut 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder into 2-inch pieces.Individual
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 tsp.freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tbsp. olive oil (split)
• 1 onion (chopped)
• 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 large fennel bulb, discarding the stem, cutting the bulb in half, core and finely chop.
• 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
• 1/4 c.tomato paste
• 1/2c.red wine
• 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, peeled.
• 2 c. chicken soup
• 1/2c.heavy cream
• 4 bottles of thyme
• 2 rosemary sprigs
• 2 bay leaves
Pat the pork dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add half of the pork to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate. Repeat with remaining pork.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the same Dutch oven and reduce heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots, and fennel to the Dutch oven with their juices and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the tomato paste caramelizes and takes on a rusty color, about 3 minutes. Add the red wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid evaporates.
Add the tomatoes and their juice, mashing the tomatoes with your hands. Stir in broth, cream, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Add the browned pork with the juices that have collected on the plate.
Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until the pork is falling apart and the sauce is thick (thicker than your average pasta sauce), about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. . Discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.
Use two forks to shred the pork. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve pork ragu over pasta or polenta, if desired.
To prepare in advance: Once the sauce has cooled, transfer it to a container and freeze it for up to 2 months.
Meredith Dees is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @meredithdeeds on Instagram.