– This is a Superlative Braised Pork Pasta Recipe! –
This week’s dish is the ultimate comfort food dish–a rich, meaty braised pork pasta recipe (it’s right up there with my slow-roasted pork shoulder). It covers so many bases in the warm and hearty department that you almost want to grab a pillow, curl up next to your oven, and take a catnap on the kitchen floor while its heavenly aroma envelopes your senses.
So far, 2013 has been intense. That’s not to say this year has been bad, per se, but rather it’s required a lot of processing time and effort to make sure things continue flowing smoothly. I’m not really running on all cylinders these days, as a handful of what we like to call “life events” (hello understatement!) sweep through, causing all sorts of changes and a marked need for growth. That’s life, though. What can you do?
Well, you can eat.
The original tagline of this blog, back when it was still Wasabimon.com, was “When all else fails, cook.” That came about because when I started this blog I was dealing with some pretty severe health problems, and the only way that I really got away from the miasma of that period was by spending a lot of time in the kitchen. It had been a while since I’d really challenged myself to try anything new in the food world, and I was living off of a rotation of the same four vegetable stir-fry recipes. Nutritional, yes, but not terribly satisfying.
I started this cooking blog as a distraction from life, as a way to focus on something positive and fun that existed outside of my problems. Eventually it came full circle and much more of my existence began to revolve around this blog; it’s now taken on a life of its own and I’m incredibly proud of all I’ve accomplished through this little site. Who would have though, all those years ago, that I’d have a cookbook coming out? That I’d change almost everything about who I am and what I do, all thanks to the four or five mouse-clicks required to setup WordPress?
So even though 2013 has been a bit of a bear–and really, can you think of a year that hasn’t kicked your ass on some level?–I still find my comfort here, on this site, and with all of you, my readers. This braised pork pasta dish epitomizes everything I look for in something that warms me from the inside out: slow-cooked, hearty, and literally brimming over with flavor in a way that doesn’t challenge my senses, but instead greets them with a huge grin and kind words. There are days when I want a gustatory “come to Jesus” moment. But a lot of the time, I just want a little culinary reassurance.
This dish is my way of saying that everything will be ok.
- 2 pounds of pork bones, such as ribs, optional (ask your butcher for these)
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, about one good sized sausage, casing removed
- 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups stock (use whatever you have - chicken, beef, etc)
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 shallot cloves, chopped, divided
- 3 strips of bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 - 8-ounce package of tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Set pork bones into a shallow baking pan and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Adjust oven temperature to 225F.
- Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until browned, stirring occasionally for even browning. Scoop out the sausage crumbles, cover them, and set them in the fridge until a later step. Pour off most of the fat from the Dutch oven, leaving only a thin film on the bottom.
- Set Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the pork cubes, making sure to get a good, solid sear on all sides. Add stock, bones, and apple juice to the pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to get up all the browned tasty bits. Add rosemary, salt, pepper, and 2/3 of the shallots, stirring well. Slide the Dutch oven into the oven and braise, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours.
- Once the pork is done, remove it from the oven and strain off any excess fat from the surface. Discard the bones.
- Set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta, and begin preparing the mushrooms. Heat bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook until browned and crispy. Remove bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain. Return sauté pan to the heat and add remaining shallots, cooking just until translucent.
- Add mushrooms to the sauté pan and cook until brown and tender, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms may squeak a bit as they cook and you may feel they’re about to burn. Don’t worry - just keep cooking and stirring. Once the mushrooms have softened, transfer mushrooms and shallots to a bowl and set aside. To the sauté pan add 2 cups of braising liquid from the pork along with half the pork. Set aside. Also add the sausage crumbles from earlier to the braising liquid.
- Once the pot of water is at a boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir until dissolved. Add pasta to the water, stirring every few seconds for the first 2 minutes. Cook the pasta for 4 minutes--it should only be semi-cooked.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and add it to the sauté pan with the pork and braising liquid.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan. Set pan over medium heat and cook until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is just al dente, about another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Dish the pasta into 4 bowls and add 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche to each, stirring until the cream is completely mixed into the sauce. Top each bowl with more pork, a little bacon, and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley. Serve hot.