This is the second part of “How we celebrate in my family.” Learn about Peking Duck Quesadillas in Part I.
Happy Friday! Here is some food inspiration for your weekend.
On my sister’s birthday two weeks ago, we knew we wanted to cook something epic, something delicious, something memorable. The challenge was choosing what to try. Between the internet and our giant pile of cookbooks we had a hard time deciding which dish, or even which cuisine, would be worthy of her birthday dinner. As we talked through options, Meg mentioned that one of the best things she ate in Italy was a wild boar ragu on fresh pasta. At this point, I remembered I had a pork loin in the freezer; it wasn’t a wild boar, but it was pretty close. I thought through what we could do to it, consulted a few recipes, then made a plan. The result truly was worthy of a birthday.
Here is what we did…
Birthday Roast Pork Ragu
1 pork loin
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup red wine
1.5 cups chicken stock
2 14 oz can of tomatoes or 2-3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Fresh Pappardelle, homemade or store-bought
Fresh cherry tomatoes, diced
Fresh basil, minced
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
2) Trim excess fat and membrane off the pork loin. It is easier when you pull on the membrane using a paper towel to pinch the slippery sinew (wow, I never realized how unappetizing a word that is; oh well). Cut the meat into 1-2 inch rounds. Dry the rounds and rub with spices. Heat 1-2 tbs olive oil in a Dutch oven until just about smoking. Brown all sides of the meat rounds until you have a toasty brown crust. Remove meat and drain on a paper towel.
3) Add a little more oil to the pan and saute carrots and onion until the onion is translucent. Toss flour in the veggies and cook for 30 seconds, then deglaze with wine. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Return meat to the pot, cover, and roast in the oven for about 3 hours. The dish is done when the meat pulls apart easily with a fork. Shred all of the meat and stir sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Cook Pappardelle, being careful to remove from the water before overcooking. You want a nice al dente bite. If your ragu is looking a little thick, add some of the pasta water to your sauce before you drain it.
5) I have read that the “correct” way to serve pasta is to mix the pasta into the sauce to ensure that every noodle is properly coated and the flavors infuse into the pasta thoroughly. Thing is, I usually make way more sauce than pasta and even if I did make extra pasta, I HATE soggy leftover pasta, so I didn’t worry about doing it “correctly.” People can stir their own pasta on their own plates. In any case, I topped each pile of glorious ragu with the fresh tomatoes, basil, and parmesan and served it with red wine.
Devour, but slowly. Enjoy!