Another one for the OMG files. My vegetarian friends will have to avert their eyes, because this one is the omnivore’s dream come true. Pork shoulder, another example of a cut of meat that performs very well when prepared in the slow cooker, without any compromise in texture. Fennel is the magical ingredient that takes the dish from simple to spectacular. The recipe comes from Serious Eats, a site that never disappointed me. Kenji’s recipes are trustworthy by default.

(slightly modified from Serious Eats)

1 (6-pound) bone-in pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut on the bias
2 large shallots, sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 Parmesan rind

Season pork all over with salt and pepper and place in the bowl of a large slow cooker. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add fennel and carrot and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add shallots and continue cooking until softened, about 4 minutes longer.  Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, rosemary, sage, and Parmesan rind. Stir to combine and transfer to the slow cooker, pouring tomato mixture on top of the pork shoulder.

Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours, basting with tomato sauce occasionally. When pork is fall-apart tender, transfer meat to a bowl and discard thyme, bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Skim fat from the top of the sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed.   When meat is cool enough to handle, shred using two forks, and discard the bone and any undesirable fat. Mound meat on top of your favorite side dish, spoon sauce on top and garnish with shredded Parmigiano.


to print the recipe, click here

If we have to say goodbye to summer, let’s at least indulge into a bit of comfort food, shall we? Pork shoulder has that melt in your mouth quality that makes it perfect to create a ragú such as this one. Plus, using the slow cooker makes life so easy, you arrive home to the delicious smell of a dinner basically ready and waiting. If you don’t have a crock pot, use your regular oven low and slow or a pressure cooker fast and furious. How about that for flexibility?


The classic side dish for this ragú would be pappardelle, but for the sake of our waistline I normally opt for a root veggie pure, in this case a cauliflower and  rutabaga mix. A bit of Parmigiano shaved on top just for good measure. Leftovers get better and better, and if you don’t mind stretching the boundaries of fusion cuisine, they work surprisingly well as a filling for tacos. Remember… flexibility rules, at least in the Bewitching Kitchen it does!



Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Pimp your Veg, a Guest Post

TWO YEARS AGO: Cooking Light Pan-Charred Veggies 

THREE YEARS AGO: Pomegranate Chicken Thighs and Carrot Mash

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Many Faces of Kale

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Short and Sweet 

SIX YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew




September 21st, 2011. That’s when Lynda, from Taste Food, published her ‘Ode to Fall”, a pork ragu served over pappardelle.  I bookmarked the recipe right away, but only made it last week.  Better late than never, this ragu jumped straight into our list of favorites!  The pork falls apart after 2 hours simmering, and turns into a sauce that is intense and mild at the same time (if that’s at all possible! 😉 )  Make it one day in advance for added deliciousness.

(adapted from Taste Food)

2 pounds pork butt, excess fat trimmed, cut in 2 inch chunks
Black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, finely diced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
2 (28 ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes with juice
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pound noodles or pasta of your choice, cooked al dente
Grated Parmiggiano cheese

Season the pieces of pork with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a large pot until it’s shimmering. Add pork in one layer in batches, without overcrowding, so that it will brown without steaming.  After all sides are seared, remove pieces to a plate, and reserve until all the meat is browned.   Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan.

Add onion, carrots, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Carefully add the wine, and deglaze the pan with it. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Return pork to the pot and submerge in the sauce.  If necessary, add water to bring the level of the liquid to the top of the meat.  Simmer, covered, over low heat until pork is very tender, about 2 hours. Remove lid and continue to simmer, skimming fat occasionally with a spoon, until sauce is thickened, 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

ENJOY!  (I know you will…)

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You will need 2 pounds of cubed meat for this recipe, but there’s a lot of trimming to do on a piece of pork butt, so buy a large piece, and if you have more than you need, freeze the extra amount.

My main modification to this recipe was reducing the amount of onion and omitting the garlic. If you want, add a few cloves. Phil and garlic don’t match very well, so we use it very sparingly.

Maybe if you are used to eating a lot of garlic, you’ll feel that there’s something missing in my version of this ragu, but I suggest you give it a try without, and concentrate on the pure taste of the meat as you savor your plate of pasta.  And, by the way, this ragu would be amazing served with any type of root veggie puree. Soft-cooked polenta wouldn’t be that bad either!

ONE YEAR AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

TWO YEARS AGO: Green Light for this Salad

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine