I made this last weekend on a Sunday when I had plenty of time to cook and let the ragu take its time to come to perfection. There is nothing better on a cool or rainy weekend than a warm and rich pasta. The perfect comfort food.
While you can let the ragu cook for as little as 2 hours, 4-6 hours is better (and you’ll like the results better, too). I happened to make this with pork shoulder and ground veal, but really you can use any meat you like…I imagine wild boar would be fantastic, as would beef. So have fun with it, and post your variation here! I’d love to see what you do with it.
2 medium yellow onions
1.5 lb pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 lb ground veal
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried sage
1 2″ cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
3 sun dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 large 28-oz can crushed tomatoes with juice, tomatoes diced
2-3 cups good red wine (such as a zinfandel, syrah, merlot or cabernet)
1 lb pappardelle noodles cooked according to directions on package
In a large dutch oven or pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat until hot. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Pushing the onions to the sides of the pan, put the pork pieces in a single layer in the center, and brown on all sides. Moving the browned pieces to the sides, continue with remaining pork until all is browned. Do the same with the ground veal, breaking up into small pieces as it browns. Mix all together, then add garlic, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, oregano, basil, sage, cinnamon stick, cloves, sun dried tomatoes and salt & pepper. Mix well and allow to cook until spices become fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, and a cup of the red wine. Mix well, and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least two hours, adding more wine as needed to keep the mixture moist (consistency should be quite thick like a chili or stew). You may use the entire bottle if you cook the mixture for 4 hours or more.
Serve the ragu over cooked noodles, and sprinkle with freshly grated pecorino cheese (which is a great complement to meat).