By: Julie Miguel, Food Blogger
Whenever I go to a fancy Italian restaurant, I always look for a cavatelli pasta dish with house-made ragù featuring pork, lamb or beef. It’s one of my favourite pasta dishes as I would typically never take the time to make it at home. After speaking to many chefs about it, I decided to attempt it on my own using pork. My fear was that I wouldn’t achieve a ragù that was as tasty and it’s a bit of a time investment I wasn’t confident to take just yet. After trying this recipe, I was blown away at how easy it actually is! I’ve developed a really simple recipe that home cooks at all skill levels can try.
This rich and meaty sauce is a perfect meal during the cold winter months. I love cook ragù low and slow – I have found it’s the best way! I tasted the ragù after one hour of cooking but the pork pieces don’t pull apart easily at this point and the flavours hadn’t fully penetrated the meat. After two hours, the ragù was cooked perfectly! If you have more time, cook it on a very low temperature and you can let it go for up to 6 hours as long as you stir every half an hour or so.
For this recipe I’ve used LiberTerre boneless pork shoulder. I love using LiberTerre pork because all of their pork products are produced here in Canada (Manitoba to be exact!) and are raised without the use of antibiotics and added hormones. They are fed a complete vegetarian diet and the result is a deliciously marbled product that is both rich and flavourful. I have tried this recipe using lamb neck or shoulder as well and it is really tasty so if you can get your hands on some, give it a try as well!
I love preparing this recipe for a special occasion or a romantic dinner at home – it is just that delicious! Still looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner idea? Well, I think you just found it!
Cavatelli Pasta with Braised Pork Ragù
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour and 5 mins
Total time: 1 hour and 35 mins
Extra-virgin Olive Oil
3 lbs Pork Shoulder, de-boned and cut into large chunks (trim off any rind and thick layers of fat)
2 onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh oregano
2 spring rosemary
1 cup white wine
½ cup chicken stock
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 450g bag of cavatelli pasta
Parmesan Cheese for serving
Cut and prepare all of your vegetables and set aside (onion, garlic, carrots and celery). Wash and tie the herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary and bay leaf) into a bundle using kitchen twine. Pat the pork pieces dry with a paper towel (you will get a better sear on the meat if you remove the moisture). Liberally coat the pork pieces with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy bottomed sauce pot coated with olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Begin to sear both sides of your pork pieces being sure not to crowd the pot (about 3 minutes per side). You may do this part in several batches as you want to make sure you have a nice sear on the pork. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.
Add your vegetables and herb bundle to the pot and cook until the vegetables have softened (about 8 minutes). Add the wine to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the wine to a simmer and continue to cook until the liquid has reduced by half (about 6-10 minutes).
Add tomato sauce and chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so that the sauce is just simmering and nestle the pork pieces into the sauce. Cook on very low heat for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, being sure to stir the sauce every 30 minutes or until the pork pieces pull apart easily with a fork. Remove the pork from the pot and put onto a plate. Remove the herb bundle from the pot and discard. Using two forks, shred the pork into bite-sized pieces. Return the shredded pork to the sauce and keep warm over very low heat.
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Toss the cooked pasta with the pork ragù to coat the pasta. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan cheese shavings on top.
Happy Valentine’s Day!