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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Sausage and Fennel Soup with Gouda Croutons

Sausage and Fennel Soup with Gouda Croutons

Soup croutons.

Previously reserved only for rich winter soups like French onion, these cheesy obey gooey bites of deliciousness belong on everything!

I mean think about it. Most people usually serve soup with a giant hunk of bread and a generous sprinkling of cheese anyways. Why not top the soup with croutons, and get a nice piece of cheesy bread in every bite?

They are super easy to make. Just slice up your baguette (or buy a pre-sliced baguette from the grocery store), top with grated cheese (I think gouda and gruyere are the best), and bake for 15 minutes in the oven. The cheese gets melty and bubbly, and the baguette pieces get nice and golden and crispy.

When you float them on the soup, they quickly absorb the broth, soften, and become easy to break up with a spoon. Then you can easily stir them into the soup to thicken it and add extra texture and flavor to each bite.

Sausage and Fennel Soup with Cheesy Gouda Croutons

This sausage & fennel soup pairs perfectly with soup croutons.

It has chunks of spicy Italian sausage and a whole lot of fennel. Like, every part of the fennel plant (yay, no waste!). The bulb is chopped and used just like onion, the stalks are sliced and used like celery, and the fronds are chopped and swirled into the soup at the end of the cooking time and function like fresh herbs.

Of course, there’s also classic carrot, tomato, garlic, and a whole bunch of greens in the soup. It’s super nutritious, full of fiber and phytonutrients, plus some protein from the sausage. It makes you feel warm and satisfied without being too heavy. And it keeps really well in the fridge all week. Enjoy!

Sausage and Fennel Soup with Baked Gouda Croutons

Sausage and Fennel Soup with Gouda Croutons

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 lb raw spicy Italian sausage, 2 large links, casings removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 small fennel bulbs, cored and diced
  • 1 cup sliced fennel stalks, fronds removed
  • 1 large handful fresh fennel fronds, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large sprigs of thyme
  • 1/3 cup sauvignon blanc white wine
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 5 oz baby spinach or greens (I used Earthbound Farms Power Trio with baby chard, kale, and spinach)
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced
  • 1 long baguette, sliced into thin rounds
  • 8 oz gouda cheese, shredded
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large enameled dutch oven or other large heavy bottomed pot. Add the Italian sausage and cook over medium-high heat, using a spatula to break up the sausage as it cooks. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the sausage is nicely browned. Use a spatula to remove the sausage to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  • Add the diced onion and diced fennel bulbs to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes until softened. Add the carrot and fennel stalks and cook an additional 5 minutes until they are also softened. Add the minced garlic, reserved sausage, and thyme. Stir, and cook for just about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Pour in the sauvignon blanc and cook for a minute until slightly evaporated. Pour in the chicken stock & bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the lid from the pot and stir in the baby greens, tomato, and fennel fronds. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes until the greens are wilted, then turn off the heat.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the baguette slices out on the parchment paper. Top each slice with a bit of shredded gouda, evenly dividing it among all the slices. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted. You can also quickly broil the cheesy bread pieces for a minute or two for a quicker result.
  • When ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with cheesy croutons. Enjoy!
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Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

You know that deliciously yummy crispy shredded pork you can get at your local Mexican food place?

Yeah, you can totally make it at home.

All it requires is a giant piece of pork shoulder and a lot of patience.

Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

You’ve seen those giant hunks of pork shoulder at the grocery store, sitting on the bottom shelf, overflowing on their foam meat tray, wrapped in copious amounts of plastic wrap.

If you don’t cook often, they probably looked super intimidating. What the heck are you supposed to do with such a large and unwieldy piece of meat?? *Enter vision of roasting meat on a spit over a campfire*

Actually, slow cooking a large piece of meat is one of the easiest ways to prepare animal proteins.

There’s no cutting, chopping, or slicing required. Just season with salt and pepper, quickly sear on all sides, and pop in the oven all day. No more work required!

Your house will fill with delicious smells of roasted pork, and at the end of the day, you’ll have several pounds of versatile pork that can be used for meals all week.

Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

I roasted up a 6-pound picnic-style pork shoulder for just Aaron and me, so we used it for multiple meals throughout the week. 🙂

The first night, I left the roasted pork in large chunks and served it with an easy vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, garlic, parsley, and olive oil. We paired it with easy baked potatoes and homemade Caesar salad.

Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

Then, for the rest of the week, we went Mexican. I shredded up the pork into smaller pieces, and we had some absolutely DELICIOUS carnitas tacos. The meat is so good, all you really need are some fresh corn tortillas, lightly pan-fried to make them pliable, authentic salsa, minced white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Once we ran out of tortillas, we finished up the rest of the ingredients in taco salads, with a creamy dressing made out of sour cream + garlic + cilantro + milk.

If you still have leftovers after all of that, you can make burritos and freeze them for later. Yum!!

Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

Oven roasted pork shoulder is a wonderful staple to master. It’s great for Super Bowl parties and other get-togethers, and it’s so simple, that it meets almost anyone’s special dietary needs (except vegetarians/vegans, of course!).

Enjoy, and let me know any creative uses you have for the abundance of leftovers!

Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time8 hrs 30 mins
Total Time8 hrs 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 6- pound bone-in skin-on pork shoulder picnic roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other high-heat oil

Instructions

  • Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt and pepper on all sides, including the skin side.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the pork shoulder sit at room temperature while the oven preheats.
  • When the oven is preheated, place a heavy bottomed lidded pot (I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven) on the stove top. Add 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and warm over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the pork shoulder, fat side down, and cook on that side until nicely golden brown. Rotate the pork to the next side, and continue, until all the sides and end pieces are nicely browned.
  • When the pork is browned all over, rotate the pork so the skin side is facing up, and place the lid on the pot. Put the dutch oven inside the oven, and let cook without moving for 7 1/2 hours, until the outside of the pork is deeply browned, and the meat is fall apart tender. If the skin is not yet dark brown and crispy, increase the heat to 500 degrees and let cook with the lid off the pan, until it is crispy.
  • Remove from the oven, and let the pork rest for 30 minutes. Remove the crispy skin and set aside. Then, use two large forks to pull the pork apart into pieces. If you want to serve the pork in chunks, perhaps with barbecue sauce or a citrus sauce, leave the pork in larger pieces. If you want to serve it as carnitas, in tacos or burritos, shred it into smaller pieces. Finally, rip or chop the crispy skin into small pieces and toss into the shredded meat. Enjoy!
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