It’s a little story he tells in a foodandwine.com recipe for pasta with braised pork, red wine and pancetta that also brought a lot of love into Austinite Esmeralda Gonzalez’s house last week.
More than 15 years ago, “Bizarre Foods” host Zimmern met his wife the first night he taught this recipe at a cooking class in Minnesota, but it was simply a Sunday evening culinary triumph for Gonzalez (@esmergonzalez on Instagram), who shared the picture as part of our Austin360Cooks project, where we encourage home cooks to share what they’re cooking through a hashtag on social media.
Zimmern says he makes a large batch of this and then freezes it in quart-size Ziploc bags for quick meals: The quantities in this version are enough to make ragout for a crowd. Use the sauce with the pasta of your choice, including wide lasagna noodles; a tube-shaped pasta will allow even more of the sauce and meat to coat the starchy surface.
(Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing cooking-at-home series called Austin360Cooks in which anyone can share what’s cooking in their home by adding #Austin360Cooks to their posts on social media. You can find a gallery of recently submitted pics at the end of this post, and you can follow me on Instagram at @broylesa.)
Pasta with Pork Ragout
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. pancetta, sliced 1/2 inch thick and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 lb. trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 sage leaves
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 leek, white and light green part only, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
One (14-oz.) can tomato puree
1 lb. dried strozzapreti or tubetti pasta
Freshly grated pecorino cheese, for serving
Over medium high heat, heat the oil in a large enameled cast-iron pot. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.
While the pancetta is cooking, season the pork with salt and pepper. After you’ve removed the pancetta from the pot, add half of the pork shoulder and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the pork to the bowl with the pancetta. Repeat with remaining pork.
Wrap the trio of herbs in a cheesecloth and tie with twine. Add the bouquet garni — the cheesecloth-wrapped herbs — to the pot along with the onion, carrot, celery, leek and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the meat. Simmer over moderately low heat until liquid is almost fully evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and tomato puree and return to a boil. Cover and simmer the sauce over moderately low heat for 1 hour, until the meat is very tender.
Toward the end of the ragout cooking time, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain.
Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce and discard the herbs. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta and toss until well-coated. Transfer to shallow bowls and serve right away, passing grated pecorino at the table. Serves 6 to 8.
— Adapted from a recipe by Andrew Zimmern on foodandwine.com