Spicy Calabrese Style Pork Ragu

Pork Ragu

Winter hiatus is over for BistroBess!  The days are getting longer, which means my picture taking window is as well.  It’s not getting any warmer, though, as evidenced by today’s “snow storm”, so there is still time to whip up some comfort food.  Namely, whip up this pasta dish.

Just about every month, one of my food magazines has a recipe for a new take on ragu.  Since my husband loves and is quite picky about Italian food, I only make the ones that seem both delicious and authentic.  This pork based sauce hit both of those notes beautifully.  Slightly spicy, rich and thick, it coated the pasta without being too watery, as many quick cooking sauces can be.  It takes awhile, close to 4 hours on the stove, but really doesn’t requite much from the chef during that time, except for the occasional stir.

Also, if you are looking for some music to listen to while cooking, may I suggest The District Lights new single?

Spicy Calabrese Style Pork Ragu

from Bon Appetit

  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound mezzi rigatoni or penne rigate, or any short, tublar pasta
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
Pulse onion, carrot, celery, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup parsley in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Purée tomatoes with juices in processor; set aside.
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add ground pork, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add reserved vegetable mixture to drippings in pot, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes.
Stir tomato paste and 1 cup water in a small bowl; add to pot. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 6-8 minutes.
Add reserved meat and tomato purée and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, adding more water as needed to keep meat nearly submerged, until meat is tender, about 4 hours. I ended up adding about 2 cups of water over the course of the cooking time in small increments, adding none in the last 20-30 minutes. Taste, season with salt as needed.
Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce; stir to coat. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Divide among bowls; top with more Parmesan.
Pork Ragu

Super Simple Crockpot Pulled Pork

Don’t you hate it when you have four pounds of pork tenderloin in the fridge and you need to use it that day, but it’s raining and you don’t want to go to the grocery store?  Happens to all of us, right? Maybe it’s just me.

This is barely a recipe, more a method for making a very simple, slightly healthier version of pulled pork.  The crockpot does all the work, and using pork tenderloin keeps things much leaner than using a pork butt.  I know it’s not super authentic, but it was delicious and simple and I didn’t have to leave the house!

I served this as sandwiches with coleslaw, and also ate it plan…good both ways, and made for lots of leftovers.

Simple Crockpot Pulled Pork

  • 4 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 28oz bottle bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
  • 1 12oz bottle beer (whatever beer you have in the house)
  • 1 tsp each of smoked paprika and garlic powder

Place the onion in the bottom of the crockpot.  Add tenderloins.  Cover with bbq sauce and add spices.  Pour the beer over the whole thing.  Cover, and set the crockpot for 6 hours.  When time is up, you should be able to shred the pork easily with a pair of tongs. 


Pork and Green Chile Stew

Hello to everyone who found BistroBess in the past few days!  Being “Freshly Pressed” certainly upped my readership and the pressure is on!  Please keep checking in, I really appreciate it the support.  But enough with that, on to the food!

I seem drawn to big bowls of comfort food these days, and this stew is no different.  After a very successful trip to Wegman’s last weekend (crowded but fabulous…why isn’t there a Wegmans in Arlington?), I found myself with 4 pork tenderloins, 2 per package.  I roasted off two of them earlier this week, and was trying to think of a creative use for the remaining tenderloins. 

Inspired by something on the Food Network about green chiles, I decided to try my hand at a green chile and pork stew.  I love the New Mexico/Tex Mex flavor of green chiles, and I knew something like this would be perfect for an afternoon of football watching with some friends.  I browsed a few recipes online, but didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I improvised. 

Lucky for me (and my friends), it turned out really well!  The stew was thick and hearty, good for my husband who doesn’t love thin soups.  It was spicy, but not overly so, with a great chile flavor, and the pork was wonderfully tender.  It may take a bit of time to simmer, but comes together quickly.  We served it with a dollop of sour cream and some tortillas, but I think it would be great over rice, or even as an enchilada filling. 

Pork and Green Chile Stew

a BistroBess original

  • 2 small pork tenderloins (from one standard grocery store package), cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 2 4 oz cans diced, roasted green chiles
  • 1 15oz can hominy, drained
  • 2-4 cups chicken broth (this will depend on how thick you want the soup)
  • Olive oil
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt and pepper

Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with olive oil over medium heat.  Place about 1 cup of flour into a bowl.  Salt and pepper the pieces of pork, then dredge in the flour a few at a time.  Remove the pork from the flour, shaking off the excess, and place into the dutch oven.  Brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per batch, until all pork has browned.   Remove from the dutch oven and set aside.

Add a little bit of olive oil to the dutch oven, if needed.  Add onion and poblano and cook for several minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add garlic, cook for 2 more minutes.  Pour in can of enchilada sauce and, using a wooden spoon, get all the brown bits by scraping the bottom of the pan.  Add the cans of chiles, hominy and the browned pork.  Stir to combine, and add some chicken stock, about 2 cups, to just cover the mixture.  

Cover, turn heat to low, and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for an hour or more.  I cooked mine for closer to two hours, and stirred every 20 minutes or so.  Add more chicken broth along the way to get the consistency you would like.* Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper.   Serve warm with tortillas, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc. 

*If you would like to use this for a taco or enchilada filling, I would suggest starting with 1 cup of broth and going from there.

Maple Mustard Pork Chops

We eat a lot of poultry at Chez Mitchell. Chicken and ground turkey are our proteins most nights, and as versatile as they are, it can be a bit boring.  I think most people sympathize with boneless, skinless chicken breast fatigue.

Enter pork.  Pork is not always the correct choice if you are aiming for lower fat, healthier meals, but lean pork chops and pork tenderloin fit the bill.  The boneless pork chops I buy are very lean, very easy to cook and a nice change of pace from the bird. 

I remember seeing this recipe in Cooking Light years and years ago, and have always wanted to try it.  Mustard and maple syrup are a great sweet/savory combination, and work really well with the pork.  I made a few tweaks, and it turned out great.  I served these with spinach quinoa…recipe to follow in the next couple days!

Remember, pork can be easily over cooked, so this is a great time to use your meat thermometer. The USDA recently dropped the minimum pork cooking temperature to 145 degrees, placing it in the same category as beef, lamb and veal (despite it being “the other white meat”).  We usually cook ours to about 150, 155.  A little pink is just fine! 

Maple Mustard Pork Chops

adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless pork loin chops, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

 Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle pork chops evenly with salt and pepper; add pork to pan. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add broth to the hot pan, whisking quickly to deglaze (get all the brown bits left behind by the pork into the sauce).   Add next 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return pork to pan; simmer 3 minutes or until pork is done, turning once.  Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed.