Hunk of Meat Monday: Pork Ragu

Anybody sick of turkey yet? I am sure you have had turkey casseroles and turkey sandwiches and turkey salad. How about some pork? This may be a new favorite dish for me. Not sure if the rest of the family was as excited as I was, but maybe it because I braised this pork in apples and wine and honey and smokey goodness.

Pork Ragu

Start with a pork loin. I had one that was around four pound. If you pulled it out of the freezer, make sure it is thawed out completely.

pork loin
Then get it seasoned with some Adobo seasoning and salt. I had some pinot noir salt. So, of course I used it.

salt and adobo seasoning
Season the loin liberally on all sides and brown over a medium heat in a cast iron skillet with olive oil coating the entire skillet.

browning pork loin
Brown on all sides for 2-3 minutes per side till the the entire surface has been browned. While it is cooking, dice up onions, apples, carrots, celery and garlic. Then pour over top of the meat to saute. Sprinkle with Spanish Thyme and salt.

vegetables sauting with pork loin
When the veggies have just begun to brown and soften, pull the meat out of the pan and place into a dutch oven to cook in the oven. Set aside and began making your roasting sauce. Start with adding a 6 ounce can of tomato paste.

Red Gold tomato paste
Mix the tomato paste into the apples and veggies and then begin adding liquids. The normal kinds of liquids can be used: wine, broth, balsamic vinegar, honey. Make it worth it…

liquids for pork ragu
Stir to combine and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.

simmering apples and veggies for pork ragu braise

Then it occurred to me, it needs smoke. And my oven isn’t a smoker. So, I used some of the artificial kind.

liquid smoke
Let it simmer a minute or two longer and then pour over the pork loin that you put in the dutch oven.

pork apple braise
Now it is time to braise. Put the lid on and put it in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours. That is right, 3 hours. Go to swim practice, ballet, the store, get a pedicure. Do whatever, but give it three hours. And then start boiling pasta.

campanelle pasta
Remove the pork from the juices and veggies. And let it rest.

braised pork loin
Pour the juices through a strainer, reserving the juices in a bowl. Then smash what veggies and apples you can through the strainer. Then go back to the pork and shred it up.

shredding pork loin
I love using my salad chopper to shred meat. I know, sounds crazy, but do not knock it till you try it. Trust me.

shredded pork
Combined the pork with the pasta that is cooked and drained. Then pour the reserved juices over top of the pork and pasta. If you want a slightly creamier sauce, add some cream cheese. Stir to combine completely.

Pork Ragu
Pure pork bliss. You will love it.

Pork Ragu

  • One 2-4 pound boneless pork loin or shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1 apple, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 carrot or 4-5 baby carrots, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 celery rib, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces of tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • ⅓ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 5 dashes of liquid smoke
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound pasta
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Season the pork with 1 tablespoon of salt and Adobo seasoning. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil until shiny. Add the pork and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a dutch over or plate if you are using a dutch oven on the stove top.
  2. Add the apple, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, teaspoon of salt and thyme to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it deepens in color, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock, vinegar and honey and bring to a simmer. Add liquid smoke to the sauce. Pour over the pork, cover and transfer the dutch oven to the oven. Braise the pork for about 3 hours, turning once halfway through, until very tender.
  3. Transfer the pork to a plate. Strain the sauce into a large bowl, gently pressing on the solids. Pour the sauce back into the pot. Using 2 forks, shred the pork; discard any large pieces of fat. Transfer the shredded pork to the sauce and stir in the cream cheese. Cover and keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to the casserole with the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce and pork.

What do you have cooking this week? Link up your goodies from Thanksgiving!

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