pasta, grains, + noodles

pork ragu with kale

the pig and the fig pork ragu
the pig and the fig pork ragu

As it often happens in April in Colorado, just after the tulips have emerged and the trees have bloomed, we get dumped on.  This was a particularly dreary, three day storm that left feet of snow in its wake.  It left me but one option: the need for a pork ragu in the form of a huge bowl of pasta and maybe a glass of wine (or three).

I would happily eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Fair warning, it does take hours to cook, but no real skills are required.  You simply chop, stir, cover and wait. Which, by the way, also makes it extra friendly for entertaining.  You can leave it on the stove while you tend to other things and still be pretty much guaranteed a delicious meal.  I would serve it with this salad and this dessert and call it done.

I served it over cavatelli but would be just as perfect over polenta or gnocchi. Don't forget to add your own snowstorm of grated cheese on top. Or the wine.  You'll want the wine.

pork ragu with kale

1/4 c olive oil

1.5 to 2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces (you can trim away some fat but don't go crazy)

1.5 cans of crushed fire roasted tomatoes

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, diced

3/4 c full bodied red wine

in a spice ball or bag: 2 bay leaves, one whole piece of nutmeg, 1 T peppercorns, 2 sprigs each of thyme and oregano

1/2 stick butter (optional)

1 bunch of Tuscan kale, ribs removed and sliced

parmesan for serving

salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle the diced pork with about a 1/2 t of kosher salt and a few good cranks of black pepper. In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and cook the pork until lightly browned on all sides.  Add the carrots, onions, and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the tomatoes, wine, and filled spice ball. Stir and add a little water if needed to cover the meat.  Turn the heat down to simmer, cover it and let it go for about 2-3 hours or until the meat gets super melty, checking it occasionally to make sure that you still have a good amount of liquid.  When the meat is done, you should be able to smash the cubes or you may want to shred it with two forks. Removed the spice ball and its contents, add the butter and kale and cook for about 5 minutes more, until kale softens.  Taste for salt and pepper and serve.