This is relatively light for a ragu, which refers to a meat sauce that is thick and full-bodied. The pork shoulder and mild Italian sausage cook in the sauce itself.
Serve over short, sturdy pasta, such as rigatoni, penne, tortiglioni or cavatappi (corkscrews), with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Make Ahead: The sauce picks up flavor after a day's refrigeration. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Servings: 12 - 16
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (boston butt), in 1 or 2 large pieces
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 5 cups)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry red wine, such as a cabernet sauvignon
- 7 cups canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 1 large or 2 small sprigs rosemary
- 1 pound mild (fresh) Italian pork sausage, casings removed
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.
Generously season the pork shoulder all over with salt and pepper. Place in the pot fat side down and brown for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning until all sides are nicely browned. Transfer to a large plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pot. Stir to coat evenly, adding a tablespoon of oil if necessary.
Add the garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the garlic has softened.
Return the pork shoulder to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high, then add the wine, stirring to incorporate. Let it bubble for a minute or so, and then add tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Add the pork sausage to the sauce in small pinches. Cover and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, adjusting the heat as needed so the sauce cooks gently. The pork shoulder should be fork-tender.
Use tongs to transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board. Use 2 forks to shred the meat into bite-size pieces, then return it and any accumulated juices to the pot.
Reduce the heat to low; cook until the meat is heated through. Taste the ragu and adjust the seasoning with additional salt if necessary. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary before serving or storing.
Adapted from "Big Night In," by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, 2008).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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