Rigatoni with Spicy Calabrese-Style Pork Ragù

Rigatoni with Spicy Calabrese-Style Pork RagùSunday Gravy

We eat a lot of pasta in my family and it’s not ’cause we have even a drop of italian blood. It’s because I believe my kids would starve if we didn’t have pasta at least once a week. To prevent starvation, I asked for a pasta maker for Christmas. I’m not talking about the hand crank models that you use to roll the dough and cut it. Been there. Done that. This is the kind that you insert all the ingredients, press a button, and voila, pasta your Nana would be proud of.

I requested this appliance while having blissful visions of my family gathered around my kitchen table on Sunday night, wearing content smiles, after consuming a hearty meal of fresh pasta topped with slow-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth meat “gravy”. (Cue dream sequence music.) “Thanks, Mom”, they say. “You’re the bestest Mom ever! What would we do with out you here to demonstrate your love using simple carbohydrates?” Oh, if only it were that easy!

Just like any other helpful gadget, it takes time to figure out how to get the results you’re looking for…especially when the directions are translated from Italian and leave more than a little room for interpretation. On my first attempt the pasta was amazing, and my husband told me I should never buy dried pasta again. The second time, not so much.

This month’s Bon Appetit has inspired me to try once again. It’s cover features a gorgeous plate of Rigatoni with Pork Ragu–the perfect meal for a cold February night…or it will be…once I get the translation right.  

Rigatoni with Spicy Calabrese-Style Pork Ragù
Bon Appétit, February 2013
by Sara Jenkins

Makes 6 servings

Any short, tubular pasta will work with this meaty ragù. We used sedanini (“little celery”) on the cover, but easier-to-find rigatoni and penne are great, too.

1 medium onion, quartered
1 carrot, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1″ pieces
4 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound ground pork
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound mezzi rigatoni or penne rigate
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus more

Pulse onion, carrot, celery, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup parsley in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Purée tomatoes with juices in processor; set aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add ground pork, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add reserved vegetable mixture to drippings in pot, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes.

Stir tomato paste and 1 cup water in a small bowl; add to pot. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 6-8 minutes.

Add reserved meat and tomato purée and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, adding more water as needed to keep meat nearly submerged, until meat is tender, about 4 hours. Season with salt. DO AHEAD: Ragù can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool. Cover and chill, or freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat before continuing.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce; stir to coat. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Divide among bowls; top with more Parmesan.

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