Pappardelle with Pork Ragu

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu

Guys, in case you haven’t heard, over 40% of California is finally out of the drought! Yahoo!

True, I live in Southern California precisely because it’s 75 and sunny pretty much all year, but I’ll admit I’ve been sort of digging the rain this month.

Lots of rain means evenings with the fireplace on, the smell of smoke wafting through the neighborhood, with a pop of coolness from the fresh rain.

It also means extra snuggles and movie nights, baking cookies, and simmering or braising delicious soups and stews for hours on end, decadent flavors filling the apartment and feeling like home.

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu Sprinkled with Maldon Sea Salt

If you’re like me, huddled up indoors on the weekend, chillaxing (and maybe Netflixing?), you should make this ragu.

Yep, I’m just putting it out there.

Making this ragu will make your whole weekend awesome.

Plus, it makes such a huge batch that it’s the perfect excuse for a dinner party.

Pappardelle with Slow Cooked Pork Ragu

Pork ragu starts with a whole pork shoulder, but it braises for hours and hours until the meat just falls apart into tender shreds.

It’s one of those meals you crave. The umami flavor of the sauce is off the charts, but well balanced with the acid from the red wine and sweetness of the tomatoes, carrots, and onion.

It cooks down into a thick ragu that’s able to stand up to the hearty pappardelle pasta. No wimpy thin sauces here, this bad boy thickly coats every noodle and guarantees tons of flavor in every bite.

The real secret to take this from great to mind-blowing, is the finishing touches. Get yourself some high quality extra virgin olive oil, some flaky Maldon sea salt, freshly grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and fresh basil. Decorate each bowl before serving, and get ready to have your mind blown.

P.S. Got extras?

This ragu freezes excellently. Simply place batches in freezer safe tupperware or ziplocks, making sure that all extra air is removed to prevent freezer burn. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months, removing 1 batch at a time as needed for easy weeknight dinners. You can toss it with any shape of pasta, and is even excellent served over polenta!

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu - Perfect for a Party!

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 55 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 12
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs bone-in pork shoulder, cut into 3x3 inch pieces, bone and excess fat discarded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Generous sprinkles of kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely diced
  • 2 extra large carrots, finely diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb pancetta, diced
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups dry red wine, plus 1/4 cup reserved for end of cooking
  • 2 28- oz cans whole san marzano tomatoes
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 lbs dried or fresh pappardelle pasta
  • Blend of freshly grated parmesan and romano cheese, for serving (optional)
  • Maldon sea salt, for serving (optional)
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)
  • Minced fresh basil, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large enameled cast iron dutch oven and warm over high heat. While the oil heats, season the pork well on all sides with kosher salt and ground black pepper. When the oil is shimmering, add half the pork to the dutch oven and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the first batch of browned pork and set aside on a plate, and repeat with the second batch. Keep the pork set aside for later.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, celery, and pancetta to the same dutch oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is crispy and the vegetables have a nice golden brown color to them. Don't skimp on this step, since it is the base of the flavor of the dish. You want some dark bits on the bottom of the pan that you'll stir up later when you add liquid.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Next, add the garlic and tomato paste to the dutch oven and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Pour in the red wine and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the wine is mostly evaporated.
  • Add the 2 cans of tomatoes, including the sauce in the cans. Use a spatula to break up the tomatoes in the pot. Add the fresh thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and 2 cups of beef stock. Use tongs to nestle the pork pieces back into the dutch oven so they are fully submerged in the liquid, adding any accumulated juices to the dutch oven as well. Increase the heat to high and bring everything to a simmer.
  • Remove from the heat, partially cover the dutch oven with the lid, and place in the oven. Let braise for about 3 hours, until the pork is fall apart tender.
  • About 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, start cooking the pasta. You'll probably have to cook it in 2 batches unless you have a ginormous pot available. To cook it, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions (time will vary, depending on whether you bought fresh or dried pasta). When the first batch is done, drain the noodles and toss with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together while the 2nd batch cooks. When the second batch is done, drain, toss with a little bit of olive oil, and add to the first batch.
  • When the ragu is done braising, remove the dutch oven from the oven and set on the stove. Use a spoon and/or a pair of forks to shred all of the pork pieces into fine shreds and stir the sauce until evenly combined. Stir in a splash of balsamic vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons total, and another 1/2 cup of red wine. If the ragu is a little too thick, add more beef broth to thin to the consistency you desire (although this should be a thick sauce that will stand up to the thick pappardelle noodles and coat them well).
  • When ready to serve, add noodles to your bowl, top with a generous amount of ragu, drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with flaky maldon sea salt, and top with parmesan/romano cheese and a bit of fresh basil. Enjoy!
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Confit Turkey Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Turkey Confit Salad With Orange Vinaigrette

Did you watch the 2013 season of Top Chef Masters?

If you did, then you probably remember chef Sang Yoon. Yep. The ketchup-hater.

Well, he owns two fabulous restaurants that are just a few minutes from our apartment.

Lukshon, an asian-fusion restaurant is one of my absolute favorites. It’s home to my favorite sparkling rose, luscious silky broths, and succulent spicy noodles. It’s my go-to place for a celebratory dinner or date night.

But realistically, we can be found more often at Father’s Office, Yoon’s casual, cooler, sister restaurant that serves up one of the best burgers in LA, thin and crispy fries, and a huge selection of craft beers.

Turkey Confit Salad With Orange Vinaigrette and Figs

I almost always get the burger at Father’s Office (and yes, there’s no ketchup allowed, only aioli), but one time I went rogue and got the salad.

I know… a SALAD at a burger joint??

But this wasn’t just any salad. It was a duck confit salad over bitter greens with a delicate orange vinaigrette.

And omg it was so good, I ordered it again the next time we went to Father’s Office.

And then I got a little obsessed and tried to recreate it home.

Turkey Drumstick Confit Salad With Orange Vinaigrette

I don’t know about you, but duck isn’t sold at my local Sprouts, so I swapped in a prehistoric looking whole turkey drumstick instead. It has the same vibe as a whole confited duck leg, and turkey legs are actually pretty cheap!

Next step? Figuring out how the heck to confit something.

P.S. if you don’t know how to pronounce confit, it’s “con-fee”

Turkey Confit Salad With Orange Vinaigrette, Cashews, and Figs

The confiting process is actually relatively simple and hands-off.

You simply submerge your piece of meat (or veggies- garlic confit is super popular) in a pot of olive oil and slowly simmer for hours and hours until the meat is fall off the bone tender.

I like to finish the turkey with a quick high-heat cook in the oven to crisp up the skin, because let’s be honest, crispy skin is the best part of home cooked poultry, am I right?

But really, once the confit is in the oven, you can hang out and do something else for the afternoon while the meat simmers away, and it’ll be ready and waiting for you come dinner time.

Confited meats are super rich.

I mean, you DID just cook it entirely submerged in oil for hours 😉

So to balance it out, it’s perfect served atop a lightly dressed bed of bitter greens, with a fresh orange vinaigrette, crunchy salty nuts, and delightfully sweet dried figs.

Nom nom nom.

This meal is definitely a cooking project, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon! You get to be creative and try a new cooking techqniue, AND totally impress yourself and your family with a restaurant quality salad with fancy confited meat 🙂

Turkey Confit Salad With Fresh Orange Vinaigrette

Confit Turkey Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 50 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 4 whole turkey drumsticks
  • Sprinkle of kosher salt
  • Sprinkle of ground black pepper
  • 1.5 liters olive oil
  • Cloves from 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 shallot, halved and peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large head curly green leaf lettuce, leaves washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small head radicchio, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 16 dried figs, stem ends removed, each fig sliced into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews or macadamia nuts
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 small navel orange
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Season the turkey legs with kosher salt and pepper and place in a large enameled dutch oven. Nestle them in so that they are in one layer. Pour enough olive oil into the dutch oven to fully submerge the turkey legs (don't worry, you can save the oil for cooking later. It won't be wasted). It took about 1.5 liters to cover the turkey legs in my dutch oven.
  • Add the garlic cloves, shallot, and bay leaves to the pot. Put the pot on the stove over high heat and bring to barely a simmer. Turn off the heat, and put the unlidded pot in the oven. Let cook for 4 hours, or until the skin and flesh of the turkey has begun to pull away from the end of the leg bone and the meat is fall off the bone tender. Check on it periodically to make sure the oil is NOT boiling. If it is, turn down the heat so it is barely at a simmer.
  • When the turkey is done, remove the pot from the oven and set aside to cool. Use tongs to remove the turkey legs from the oil and place on a cooling rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place the baking sheet with the turkey legs in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the skin is nicely browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • When the olive oil is cooled, fish out the garlic and shallot confit & store submerged in a bit of the oil for another use. Strain the rest of the oil into a tupperware and keep in the fridge for up to a month for all of your general purpose cooking needs.
  • While the turkey legs are browning, assemble the salad and make the dressing.
  • Place the lettuce and radicchio in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove pressed garlic, and Dijon mustard. Season with a little salt and pepper, and pour the dressing over the lettuce and radicchio. Toss to coat.
  • Divide the lettuce up onto 4 large plates. Top each plate with 1/4th each of the dried figs, cashews or macadamia nuts, and green onions. Place 1 turkey leg on top of each salad and enjoy!
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Green Posole with Shredded Chicken

Green Posole Verde with Chicken

Is there anything better on a cold winter’s night than a warm bowl of chicken soup?

I think not.

The way the warm broth slips down your throat and warms you from the inside out. The steam from the bowl wafting up over your face, bathing you in the rich smells of chicken and vegetables. It simply can’t be beat.

While I LOVE a good chicken noodle, I also really love posole. (Do I really have to remind you of my obsession with Mexican food? I didn’t think so 😉 ).

There are different types of posole, but generally they include some sort of slow-simmered meat, a flavorful broth (either green and tomatillo based or red chile based), and tender grains of hominy.

What’s hominy?

It’s basically dried corn kernels that have been softened by soaking them in a mixture of lime or wood ash (or in modern times, sometime lye).

The process is called nixtamalization, and it results in tender white kernels that look sort of like mushy corn nuts. (appealing, I know)

But soaking the kernels in lime or ash also gives hominy a nutritional boost.

Without the soaking, our bodies cannot access the vitamin B3 (niacin) in the corn kernels. This is a problem for people who rely on corn as a major food source. They need every vitamin and mineral they can get!

Without enough niacin in the diet, a deficiency disease develops called pellagra. Signs of pellagra are the 3 “D’s”: Diarrhea, Dementia, & Dermatitis, and if untreated, can even lead to death!

Yikes!

Yes, this actually happened back in the day when American settlers tried to use corn as a staple in their diet without following the customs of the native people. Without soaking the corn first, they were unable to access and absorb the vitamin B3 (niacin) in their food and pellagra ran wild.

Thankfully, our modern diets are typically rich in niacin, and pellagra is now uncommon in America. Phew!

Ancient wisdom saves the day!

Posole Verde with Chicken and Hominy

So anyways, back to my hominy soup.

I’m obsessed with green posole with shredded chicken and ALL the toppings.

I mean all.

This soup becomes a hearty meal once you top it with crunchy tortilla strips, sour cream and/or cheese, avocado, radish, cilantro, onion, lettuce, lime, and hot sauce.

The sour cream melts into the broth and makes it gorgeously light green and creamy, while the radish, lettuce, and tortilla strips give each bite texture and crunch. When you take a bite, the tangy broth makes your tastebuds dance and sing. You’ll start in, and 2 seconds later, wonder where all the soup went as you reach the bottom of the bowl.

It’s that good.

Perfect to enjoy family style on a cool winter’s night, or serve at a party for everyone to top their bowl to their liking. Have fun with it!

Close Up Shot of Chicken Posole Verde

Green Posole with Shredded Chicken

Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 lb fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved if large
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 large poblano peppers, seeds, stem, and core removed, each cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 small serrano pepper, seeds removed
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50 oz canned hominy, drained
  • Your choice of toppings: Shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage, , thinly sliced radish or jicama, diced avocado, minced white onion, sour cream or crema, shredded monterey jack cheese or queso fresco, minced cilantro, crispy tortilla strips or crumbled tortilla chips, lime wedges, and Tapatio.

Instructions

  • Pour the chicken broth and water into a large enameled dutch oven. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts from the cooking liquid and place on a plate to cool. Keep the cooking liquid for later.
  • While the chicken cools, add the tomatillos, onion, garlic, poblanos, serrano, cilantro, and oregano to the blender. Scoop 1 cup of the chicken cooking liquid into the blender as well. Pulse until combined, then blend until smooth.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the tomatillo puree and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 or 15 minutes, until the sauce has turned dark green.
  • As the sauce cooks, shred the chicken breasts and discard the skin and bones. Add the shredded chicken and the hominy to the pot with the chicken broth. When the tomatillo sauce is done simmering, pour it into the pot as well. Bring to a simmer, then ladle into bowls and top with all the toppings your heart desires!

Based on one of my favorite recipes: Mexican Chicken Pozole Verde by Anya Von Bremen.

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