Some optimistic soul (like Big Guy) would say there's a plus to every minus which is all just fine and dandy but personally as a staunch realist I'd say it's more'n likely there's 2 negatives for every positive, except for this ragu of course. Then he'd be right!
This totally made from imagination dish may not be the prettiest thing you've ever seen but holy smokes it sure is good.
The other day I was remembering the pork chops my Mother used to make. She'd put the chops out on a rimmed baking sheet, cover them with onions, salt and pepper and drown the whole shebang in milk. Baked in the oven, they may not have been the best looking chops, but holy batman baby they sure were tasty tender moist morsels. I figured why not try making a ragu out of cubes of pork shoulder using the same idea but ramping up the flavors somewhat.
Well seasoned pork browned on all sides, flavored with sauteed onions, shallots, garlic, thyme, bay and rosemary, braised in a pan deglazed with vermouth then covered in milk and slow simmered in the oven is what this dish is all about. Finished at the last minute with a little sour cream for added richness, extra black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg, it's incredible on a pile of pasta garnished with shards of parmesan cheese.
The flavors are subtle, the meat incredibly tender and moist and it's all very filling particularly if you use a hearty style of pasta like the trottole I used or even rigatoni or bucatini. The only downside is the sauce's curdled appearance but what the heck - put enough cheese on it and you won't even notice.
Pork and Mushroom Ragu an original from JBug’s Kitchen Antics
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-1/2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder
Salt and coarse ground black pepper
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 oz. large mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup white vermouth or dry sherry
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 to 4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 325. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Meanwhile remove excess fat from pork shoulder and cut meat into 1 inch cubes. Season very well with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Add oil and butter to hot pan and when shimmering, brown meat in batches on all sides, removing to a bowl when finished. Add shallots, garlic, onion and mushrooms to the pot and sauté until transparent, stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning. Add vermouth or sherry to pan and scrape up browned bits from bottom. Cook until wine is almost completely reduced. Add thyme, bay and rosemary and season all liberally with additional salt and pepper. Return meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add milk until meat is covered. Bring to a simmer, cover pot and place into preheated oven. Cook for 1-1/2 hours or until meat is very tender (remove lid during last half hour to thicken sauce slightly).
Before serving, stir in nutmeg and sour cream. Serve over pasta garnished with parmesan cheese, additional grated nutmeg and black pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.