This ragout is similar to a rich tomato sauce with the addition of pork. Simmering the sauce and reducing it results in a hearty sauce that goes well with the rigatoni noodles. Beef works well in place of the pork as long as it is a fatty cut of meat. Any hard cheese is an acceptable substitute for Parmesan. For a spicier dish, double the number of chiles and add one tablespoon of red pepper flakes.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 hours
4 pounds Boston butt
1 pound small rigatoni noodles
2 white onions
4 medium carrots
3 celery stalks
4 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper
2 Serrano peppers
4 dried jalapenos
2 cups red wine
8 ounces button mushrooms
2 28-ounce cans of peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1. Finely dice the onions, celery, carrots, Serrano’s, mushrooms and bell pepper. Cube the Boston butt into one-inch pieces, and allow it to come to room temperature. Grate the Parmesan and reserve it for a garnish.
2. In a dry saute pan over low heat, toast the dried peppers until they are fragrant — about seven minutes. Remove them from the heat.
3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil to medium-to-high heat. In the oil, sear the cubes of pork until they are lightly browned — about six minutes. Take care not to overheat the oil, as the pork may start to burn. Split the pork into at least two batches so it can achieve sufficient caramelization. Reserve the pork, and drop the heat to medium.
4. Add the diced vegetables and mushrooms to the pot, pouring in another tablespoon of vegetable oil if the bottom of the pot is dry. Season them with a tablespoon of salt, and sweat the vegetables until they are translucent — about 30 minutes.
5. Add the red wine to the mixture. Simmer it for five minutes until the raw alcohol smell has evaporated. Add the tomato paste and whole tomatoes. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, break down the tomatoes. Add the pork and bring it to a simmer.
6. Simmer the mixture for three-to-four hours. The ragout should reduce and thicken to a rich sauce with little excess liquid. In a separate bowl, use two forks to shred the pork, then return the meat to the sauce. Finish the sauce with three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.
7. Cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions and plate it with the ragout, garnished with the Parmesan cheese.