Monday, 3 February 2014

Recipe: Braised Pork Ragu with Homemade Pasta

I love online shopping. It is so convenient; you can do it at any time of day. It’s nearly impossible for me to get to a store during regular business hours and my weekends are always jam packed. I am also not a huge fan of crowds at the mall. Plus, online shopping can be done with a glass of wine in hand!

My latest purchase? A pasta roller set for my kitchenaidstand mixer.

Obviously this meant that I needed to make homemade pasta over the weekend.

This was also an excellent excuse for a trip to one of my favourite places in Edmonton, the Italian Centre, so that I could make semolina pasta. I can’t go in there without snagging a couple hundred grams of prosciutto and a cannoli (or two!).

I followed the included recipe for semolina pasta, which only called for (2) tablespoons of liquid. My dough was so incredibly dry that it was unworkable. We slowly added more water to get to the right consistency. Maybe it’s the extreme dryness of our climate but I would say we ended up tripling the amount of liquid in the dough. Regardless, the pasta turned out incredible.

There was a big chunk of pork sitting in my freezer, looking progressively sadder and more freezer burnt by the day. If you’ve read my recipe for French Onion Braised Chicken, you’ll know I’m now addicted to braising everything in my dutch oven. It’s perfect for those sad bits of meat and ideal for a hearty winter dish. And what goes better with homemade pasta than a slow simmered and braised pork ragu sauce?

I opted to cut the pasta by hand into pappardelle for a thicker noodle to go with the hearty sauce. Since this recipe yields so much pasta, I used the cutter to make linguine with half of the pasta for later in the week. Follow the directions to dry the pasta and store in the fridge for a couple days. It turned out just as well a few days later!


Semolina Egg Pasta
(recipe included with Kitchenaid Pasta Roller Set)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp water, plus more as needed   (I used about 5-6 Tbsp)

Directions:

Place eggs, water, oil, flour, and salt in mixer bowl with flat beater. Turn on to speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds. Change out the flat beater for your dough hook and turn mixer back onto speed 2. Knead for 2 minutes. 

If your dough mixture looks extremely dry (as mine did at this point), add a little bit more water and knead for another 15-30 seconds.

Remove the dough from bowl and hand knead for 1-2 minutes. Again, keep an eye on your moisture content. The dough should be pliable and come together at this point. 

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and follow your pasta roller's instructions. You want to gradually increase the pasta roller setting to slowly thin the dough. At first, on the lowest setting, knead and fold your dough and put it through the roller a few times before increasing to the next setting. Dust with flour as you are doing this. 

I hand cut about half the pasta dough into pappardelle (thick, rustic noodles) and used the linguine cutter for the other half.

You can either cook your fresh pasta immediately (2-5 minutes in salted, boiling water depending on thickness) or allow it to dry for about an hour and freeze or refrigerate for a couple days in a sealed contained. Dried Pasta will require 5-7 minutes in salted, boiling water depending on thickness.


Braised Pork Ragu

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds boneless pork (chops, roast, whatever)
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large carrot, very finely diced
  • 6 large mushrooms, very finely diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ bottle dry red wine  (I used a Barolo)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)


Note: if you are not into wine, you could use a stock instead


Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat  and sauté your onions with salt and pepper. Once they are golden and soft, add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Add in the carrots and mushrooms and allow them to cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season with your dried herbs (if using fresh herbs, do not add them now).

While your onions are cooking, slice your pork into approximately 1 inch cubes and trim off most of the excess fat. Heat the other 1 tbsp olive oil in another skillet over medium-high heat and add the pork. Allow the pork to brown and develop a crust on both sides before removing from the pan.

Pour about ½ cup of the red wine into the pork skillet to deglaze your pan. Allow it to simmer as you scrape up all the yummy browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the can of tomatoes to the sautéed veggies and about 1 cup of red wine. Mix in the red wine from the pork and add 1 tbsp butter. Simmer and taste for seasoning. Add in your pork and cover the dutch oven.

Place the dutch oven in your preheated oven and allow it to braise for approximately 4 ½ hours. Check the liquid level periodically as it will evaporate and add some more wine (or stock). The pork should literally fall apart into beautiful little shredded bites. Add the fresh herbs in the last half hour of cooking.

Toss with fresh pasta and serve with a green salad, glass of red wine, and enjoy!