It’s spring, supposedly, but outside my door the patio is slick with rain. I’m dreaming of moon-kissed summer nights where scents of flowers make me dizzy, but until then, there is warmth inside and comfort food beckons. Until the earth heats up again, making life in the kitchen too hot to handle, we can cook at leisure. This pork ragù, nestled alongside creamy polenta, is one of those cuddle-worthy dishes I love to make when there’s time to cook on a rainy Saturday. While it simmers, watch the grass grow, and become green. And keep an eye on springtime flowers budding.
Surprisingly, the green chiles in the recipe don’t add much heat. They have enough presence to remind you that summer is around the corner.
Pork Ragù with Green Chiles Recipe
3 lbs skinless, boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 pieces
Kosher salt, finely ground pepper
3 T grapeseed oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 T tomato paste
1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon, or other full-bodied red wine
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 28 oz can tomato puree
8 oz canned diced green chiles, drained
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 T smoked paprika
2 cups water
Salt and pepper pork. Warm oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown pork on all sides, about 12-15 minutes. Remove pork to clean bowl.
Add onion and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is a deep, golden brown. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until mixture darkens.
Add wine and stirring, deglaze pot, loosening any browned bits to incorporate into onion mixture, for about 5 minutes. Remove any charred bits from pot.
Add whole tomatoes, crushing by hand, then add green chiles, thyme, bay leaves, and paprika. Stir in 2 cups water and tomato puree. Add pork with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, and stir, turning meat to cover. The sauce will not completely cover the meat.
Bring to boil, and reduce heat and simmer on low, partly covered, until meat is very tender and sauce thickens, about 3 hours. Remove pork to clean cutting board and shred, discarding any fat. Return shredded pork to sauce and cover. Simmer for another 1-2 hours on very low heat.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve pork with creamy polenta, mashed potatoes, or as a pasta sauce. The sauce freezes well.
Stephanie Davis, Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator from Winacea, thinks that a hearty ragù such as this can stand up to a red wine with structure and body. She recommends a European red, which are lower in alcohol than many domestic red wines. She’d look for a Cabernet Franc from France, such as something from the Loire Valley like this Chinon, Domaine Bernard Baudry. It’s fairly reasonable, too, priced at $23/bottle.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, because living brings its own humor, angst and heroism. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou where she hopes you’ll find illumination of the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Vodka and recipes optional.