Pork Rigatoni Ragù
This dish requires some effort on your behalf, but if you want something better than a jar of pasta sauce stirred into cooked pasta, learn how to make your own ragù sauce, and you will be able to make one of the most famous classic Italian dishes. This typical meal from Italy boasts so many incredible, fresh flavors. Rigatoni pasta, which is similar to penne, is used here, along with ground pork and your choice of either hot or sweet Italian sausage.
Vegetables also feature in the sauce, namely tomatoes, celery, onion, and carrot. Oregano, parsley and red pepper flakes are your trio of flavor accents, while some parmesan cheese adds the finishing touch. Italian cooks might cook the sauce for as much as 4 hours, leaving it to bubble away gently on the stove, but you can make it in just half an hour if you want. That half an hour will allow the flavors to soften and blend.
You can toss the pasta with the sauce and serve it that way or, if you prefer, spoon a ladle of the sauce on to a bowl of pasta, as you prefer. Offer extra freshly grated parmesan cheese on the side because some people would like to take some more. You can also garnish each bowl with a sprig of basil if you like, or even parsley. A fruity Italian red would would be nice with this. A side dish is not really necessary, although mixed baby salad leaves with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar are always welcome with such a dinner.
- 1 chopped celery stalk
- 1 quartered onion
- 1 peeled, chopped carrot
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 lb ground pork
- ½ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 lb Italian sausage (hot or sweet) with casings removed
- 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup finely grated parmesan
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Put the celery, carrot, onion, oregano, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a food processor with ¼ cup parsley.
- Pulse until finely chopped, then put into a bowl and set aside.
- Puree the tomatoes with their juice in the food processor.
- Heat the oil in a pot over a moderate heat and add the sausage.
- Cook for 4 minutes or until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon.
- Transfer the meat to a plate using a slotted spoon.
- Turn the heat up a bit and add the pureed vegetable mixture to the drippings in the pan.
- Add some salt and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the veggies are golden.
- Stir the tomato paste into a cup of water in a bowl, then add this to the pan.
- Cook the sauce, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and turn the heat down.
- Simmer for 7 minutes or until the liquid has nearly all evaporated.
- Add the tomatoes you pureed, the meat, and a cup of water, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Turn the heat down again and let the mixture simmering.
- Keep adding water as you need to – the meat should be nearly submerged.
- Simmer very gently for another half an hour, then season with salt to taste.
- Cook the pasta following the directions on the package.
- Stir the parmesan and remaining parsley into the sauce.
- Serve the sauce over the pasta, and offer more parmesan on the side.
This recipe shows you how to make a ragù in the Northern Italian style. In the South a lot more meat goes into the sauce to be braised, and it is later removed and served as a separate course. This delicious sauce is easy to make and it boasts the flavors of pork, sausage, vegetables, aromatic herbs, parmesan cheese, and lovely rigatoni pasta. It is filling and hearty, as well as perfectly-balanced in terms of flavor. In the picture we have garnished the dish with some fresh rosemary for a splash of color.
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