Italian Braised Pork Shoulder Ragu
Italian comfort food of tomato, braised sausage, and pork shoulder ragu simmering on the stove is the perfect way to spend a chilly day. This pork ragu is easily doubled and freezes well.
Servings 8 servings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into a few large chunks
- salt and pepper
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, pureed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tbsp fresh
- 1 tsp dried oregano, or 1 tbsp fresh
- 1/2 lb sweet Italian pork sausage
- 2 lbs dried or fresh pasta, preferably thick noodles like fettucini
- shredded parmesan cheese, for topping
In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pork and sear it all all sides until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a bowl and set aside.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic along with another sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and increase the heat to medium-high again. Let the wine boil for about 5 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and herbs.
Now add back in the pork shoulder. Then break up the sausage into small clumps and drop them into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat to keep it at a simmer. Simmer the sauce for 3 - 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender and pulls apart easily.
Remove the chunks of pork shoulder from the sauce and shred them by pulling the pieces between two forks. Once the pork is shredded, add it back to the pot. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, and/or herbs as needed. Let the sauce continue to gently simmer uncovered on low while you cook the pasta.
Heat up a large pot of well salted water. Add the pasta to the water and cook until it is done to your liking. Scoop out about 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot you cooked it in and add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Then ladle in some of the pork ragu. Simmer the pasta and ragu together for a few minutes, adding more pasta water if needed, until you have a thick sauce which coats the pasta.
Serve the pasta with more ragu over the top and pass around the parmesan cheese.
- Inspired by Pasta with Sicilian Pork and Sausage Ragu from Fine Cooking.
- This recipe doubles easily and freezes well. I often make a double recipe, then portion out the sauce into freezer bags, and lay them flat in the freezer for ease of stacking and quick defrosting.
- If you want a bit of heat, switch out all or part of the sweet sausage for hot Italian sausage.
- I prefer a thicker tomato sauce, so I use crushed tomatoes. For a thinner sauce, use only whole tomatoes.
- The sauce can be cooked on the stove top or in the oven. If you want to cook it in the oven, heat the oven to 325F, bring the sauce to a good simmer on the stove top, then cover the pot and let braise for the 3 - 3 1/2 hour cooking time.
- The sauce can also be cooked in the slow cooker. Cook it through step 2, then transfer it to the slow cooker for 6-7 hours on low. Once it's done transfer the ragu back to a pot, shred the pork, and let it simmer and thicken on the stove top.