Baked Pasta with Pork Sugo

I first saw this recipe on The Kitchen Sink website and had to give it a try.  I initially made a full recipe of the sugo, but I knew if I used all of it for the casserole it would be way too much food for just the two of us.  So I made a half recipe of the casserole and froze the rest of the sugo.  Last week I needed a quick dinner, so I pulled it out of the freezer to give the recipe another try. The first time around I followed the recipe as written.  It was good but I wasn’t really blown away, so I decided to make a few changes this time.  I sautéed some minced garlic and red pepper flakes in a little olive oil and then added the sugo to warm it up.  After combining the pasta and pork mixture I mixed in generous half cup each of finely grated parmesan and romano cheeses and some fresh minced parsley. Finally I topped it with a bread crumb mixture (fresh bread crumbs from a loaf of french bread, salt, pepper and a small handful of grated parmesan).  I liked this version better than the first — especially the added heat from the red pepper flakes and texture from the bread crumbs.

Baked Oreccheiette with Pork Sugo

Food and Wine

The following is the recipe as originally written.

  • 3 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds orecchiette
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)

Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well. Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.


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