Minggu, 06 Maret 2016

Pork and Roasted Pepper Ragu Sauce

I still think about this sauce that I experienced over two years ago in Italy at a cooking class I took while there.

It was so noteworthy to me that the sauce was so simple- pork, wine, mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomato paste. Alessndro taught us that most Italian home cooks do NOT add a bunch of complicated ingredients but focus on 2-3 simple flavors to carry the dish. I've recreated it a couple of times at home.  Here's my best reenactment of that recipe for the sauce. Well, as to the pasta, that will have to wait for another day!

In the photo above is the pasta that we made at my Rome Cooking class (above), it's called cavatelli ("little hollows" or hot dog bun for short).  It's a hearty pasta that holds up well to a thick and strong sauce. We rolled ours on a ridged wooden paddle, but you could use a flat surface too.  I bought the paddles almost two years ago, but I still have not made these at home.  They were so terrifically yummy that I really need to do that.
Marinating the ground pork in white wine may seem a bit strange, but I was taught this in my Roman Cooking class and I'm keeping it.  Simple, yummy- why not?

For the record, "ragu" means a meat based sauce, hence the brand name of Ragu out there on those silly store bought sauces.

Makes enough for 6-8 people

1 1/2 lb lean ground pork 
1 cup white wine (like pinot gris, or sauvignon blanc)

1 15oz can of roasted red peppers
2 lbs sliced mushrooms, browned
1 cup onion, minced (use a food processor)
2-3 garlic cloves
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 can tomato paste
Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl, add the raw ground pork and pour the wine over the top.  Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in a food processor, mince the onions and garlic.  In a large skillet, add a little olive oil and brown the onions over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Set aside in a bowl.

Brown the mushrooms in a little more olive oil over the same medium high heat for about 10-15  minutes.  DO NOT add any salt to the mushrooms.  If you do, they will not brown. Adding salt forces the mushrooms to release a lot of water and then steam, not brown.  Set aside the mushrooms.

In the same food processor, puree the roasted peppers.  Set aside
Brown the pork over the medium heat, stirring often.  This will take 20-30 minutes if you want to get some nice browned caramelized bits.  Yes, the pork will be well cooked, maybe even overcooked, but it's important for the sauce.

Add the pureed peppers, the onions, the mushrooms and the tomato paste.  Stir to combine well over medium heat.  Let simmer for 10 minutes, adjusting the season by adding salt and pepper to taste.  You may need more salt then expected, as you have not added any salt during the rest of the cooking process.  

Serve over gnocchi, pasta (like penne or rigatoni) or even spaghetti squash.  It probably would be nice in a lasagna too...

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Here's the jarred roasted peppers before I pureed them in the food processor, and after in the photo below.

Browning the minced onion (and garlic)

Browned mushrooms (remember, no salt, or they steam instead of brown!)

It may take a while to brown up the pork.  Drain the wine off before cooking.

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