Friday, January 27, 2017

Pork ragu with creamy polenta


This dish is the food equivalent of sliding into cozy pajamas and curling up in front of a fire with a glass of red wine.

So when your boss is all over you, you have one kid in a wheelchair with a broken leg and the other kid suddenly develops double pink eye, I highly recommend it - in a large warm bowl, with an equally large glass of red wine (Chianti, please). Did I mention I am glad it's Friday?

But don't wait for your kid to break a leg to make it. It's unbelievably easy. Just let it simmer on the stove til it practically falls apart. And put away the air fresheners because this will make your house smell good. Heck, even your yard will smell good.

Pork ragu with creamy polenta
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Make the pork ragu a day ahead then just whip up the creamy polenta and dinner is done. It makes enough for friends (or leftovers). And it's also yummy on pasta (which is how the kids ate it.)

    Pork Ragu
  • 3 lbs. skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 3 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
    Creamy polenta and assembly
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse polenta (not quick cooking)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley

Cooking Directions
  1. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Cook pork, turning often, until evenly browned, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and pour off pan drippings.
  2. Wipe out any burned bits from pot, but leave the golden-brown pieces (doing this will keep the finished sauce from tasting bitter). Add onion and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown and caramelize, 12–15 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened in color, 5–8 minutes.
  3. Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, 5–8 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, then add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves; stir in 2 cups water. Add pork with any juices accumulated on the platter; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until pork is falling-apart tender, sauce is thickened (it will be thicker than a typical pasta sauce), and flavors have melded, 2½–3 hours.
  6. Using 2 forks, shred the pork; taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pork can be prepared a few days ahead. Let it cool, cover and chill. Reheat gently before serving.
  8. To make the polenta, bring chicken stock and milk to a simmer in a large pot. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking often, until polenta is tender and creamy, 20–25 minutes (if polenta becomes too thick too soon, loosen mixture by adding a little water and continue cooking). Add butter and ½ cup Parmesan to polenta and whisk until melted; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Spoon polenta into bowls or onto a platter and top with pork. Scatter parsley and more Parmesan over top.

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