Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pork Ragu

I've always wanted to make a ragu sauce before. I also had a weird cut of pork roast I thought would be perfect to use in a ragu recipe that called for a pork roast. The recipe looked like your classic, easy crock pot recipe where you layer your veggies, seasonings, and meat and cook all day. Simple. Who cares if the recipe wanted a shoulder roast and I had a "family picnic" pork roast. Pork is pork - I would be fine right?

Well. Let's just get through the recipe.

First you were to dump some whole canned tomatoes in the crock pot.

I actually used stewed tomatoes...and then I chopped them up into small pieces. I just don't like big tomato chunks. I was also supposed to drain the tomatoes, but didn't - we tend to like more saucy dishes around these parts.

Next add four cloves of finely chopped garlic. Normally, I just use some of garlic from my giant jar of minced garlic in the fridge when a recipe calls for fresh garlic, but I decided I'd better follow the recipe somewhat and use actual cloves.

So I broke open the garlic and peeled the cloves. Thanks to my dedication to Rachel Ray I knew to grate the garlic rather than spend all day chopping it fine...and lost a few layers of my skin into the crock pot as well. After that process was over, I remembered why I usually just spoon a bunch of minced garlic, especially when left with garlicky hands for the rest of the day. I thought maybe if I used fresh garlic, I would be able to taste a difference - nah, not enough to go to all the extra work again.

Next the recipe called for two medium carrots, cut up.

As you can see I did quite a few more than two - we really like cooked carrots around these parts.

Following the carrots, a large onion chopped up.

Thanks to our handy-dandy chopper, the chopping goes by real fast. But not fast enough that my eyes weren't on fire.

Once all the veggies were layered in the crock pot, the recipe calls for some dry white wine. Unfortunately, I drank all the wine the night before so I had to use chicken stock instead. Luckily I had the right amount left-over and frozen from a previous dish.

So I dumped it right on top of the veggies, still frozen and everything.

Next comes the seasonings.

Oregano, salt and pepper.

And then the meat. Oh the meat. Here is my roast:

Because I can be really dense, I failed to realize that what appears to be a top layer of fat, was actually skin. And it had a big giant bone in the middle of it. Quite unfortunate because I was supposed to quarter the roast and plop it in. Imagine my surprise when I try to quarter the meat and my knife WOULD NOT go through. And do you know how much work it is to rip skin off meat? It does not come of easy, I'll tell you. It's a long, dirty, cold, wet, gross, ripping and cutting process.

After I got off all the skin that completely surrounded my roast, I cut it into pieces as best I could and then chucked the whole thing, bone and all, into the crock pot.

Put a lid on, and cooked it all on low for about six hours.

After six hours, pull out your pork and shred it.

I already hate shredding meat, but thanks to my wonderful cut of meat, it took SO long because I had to shred out all of the yucky fat you can see was still left on the meat, and tear it off the bone. My hands hurt and I was so sick of pork, but I finished.

And then mixed the meat back in the sauce.

And put some noodles on to boil.

The recipe called for "pappardelle or other wide noodles", and despite looking at several stores, fettuccine was the widest noodle I could find.

While the noodles cooked, I chopped up some fresh parsley

and folded it into my ragu.

Once the noodles were done, I was ready to plate up!

Adding some Parmesan cheese on top, we served with some garlic toast to soak up the extra sauce.

I was definitely disappointed with the flavor. It was a really meaty flavor when I expected more of a vegetable/tomato sauce type of flavor. I do have to say that after handling the meat so much, I felt nauseous the rest of the day. Raw meat really gets to me. I might have been a bit scarred from my earlier meat trauma and couldn't stomach the actual dish. Maybe you shouldn't rely on my judgement.

Brigham LOVED it. I made an entire crock pot and expected to freeze half of the amount it made, but by time Brigham finished eating there was not enough left to freeze. And that's with me not eating very much at all. He got what little was left over for lunch the next day and raved again when he got home.

So it's your call. I don't think I'll make this again for a very long time. When I do, I'll be sure to use a shoulder roast as the recipe calls for. It would make everything one hundred percent easier and I would probably be able to actually eat. You could probably make this with other types of roast, like beef, as well. You could probably even use chicken breasts and shred them. Just please, make sure whatever you use has no skin or bone involved.

As for the actual recipe I got from my Woman's Day magazine:

1 28oz can whole tomatoes, drained
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper
2 1/2lb pork shoulder, trimmed and quartered
12 oz pappardelle or other wide noodle
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 oz)

1. In a 5- to 6-qt slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, garlic, carrots, onion, wine, oregano, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.
2. Add the pork to the slow cooker and cook, covered, until the pork is cooked through and easily pulls apart, 6 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.
3. Twenty minutes before serving, cook the pasta according to package directions. Using a fork, break the meat into smaller pieces, then stir it into its cooking liquid; fold in the parsley. Serve the pork over the pasta and sprinkle with the Parmesan


  1. Looks tasty! I am going to have to try this!

  2. You know how I feel about I don't know that this will be one that I will try. However, you tend to be very flexible with your cooking! That's impressive to me. If I don't have exactly whats listed on the recipe...I don't make it because I'm too scared it won't turn out. But you tend to substitute, and it always ends up working for you. I'm definitely going to have to give it a try :). Be more brave like you :)