Monday, November 23, 2015

Pork Ragù over Creamy Polenta

I had such a lovely weekend staying in town, I often love to run away to the coast or mountains but it is important to remember how much I truly have in this city.  It started with Friday afternoon I took some PTO and left work a little early and went and had lunch with one of my very close friends, we ended up getting Ethiopian food at E'Njoni Cafe one of my favorite spots in Portland.  Then later that night I hung out with another awesome friend and we went to the Blazers vs. Clippers game.  I was a little nervous for the game because we were on a 7 game loosing streak but we played really well and beat them 102 - 91.  Then Saturday afternoon I attended an amazing 2 hour African dance workshop at the Vitalidad Movement Arts Center (pictured below).  It really brought me back to college days when I use to take African dance classes every term.  Saturday evening we celebrated my mom's birthday (happy birthday mom!) and my dad and I made her this delicious meal that I'm blogging about, original recipe here, it was a wonderful evening spent with family.  Sunday late morning I went on a hike with my good friend in Forest Park.  We both know this park very well but we were going on a new 9 mile loop and ended up getting a little our 9 miles turned into 12.5 miles haha.  We are both fit people so that was totally fine but I was pretty tired by the end and slept very very well last night.  Enjoy and happy Monday!

Serves 8

The Ingredients

3 pounds skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 3 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup full-bodied red wine
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves

Polenta And Assembly:
Kosher salt
1½ cups coarse polenta (not quick-cooking)
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan (from about 2 ounces), plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil (for drizzling)

The Process

1.  Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Cook pork, turning often, until evenly browned, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and pour off pan drippings.
Wipe out any burned bits from pot, but leave the golden-brown pieces (doing this will keep the finished sauce from tasting bitter).

2.  Add onion and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown and caramelize, 12–15 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened in color, 5–8 minutes.

3.  Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, 5–8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, then add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves; stir in 2 cups water. Add pork with any juices accumulated on the platter; season with salt and pepper.

4.  Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until pork is falling-apart tender, sauce is thickened (it will be thicker than a typical pasta sauce), and flavors have melded, 2½–3 hours.

5.  Using 2 forks, break up pork into pieces or shred it (your choice!); taste and season with salt and pepper.  Pork can be cooked 5 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill in sauce.

Polenta And Assembly
1.  Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a large pot. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking often, until polenta is tender and creamy, 20–25 minutes (if polenta becomes too thick too soon, loosen mixture by adding more water and continue cooking).

2.  Add butter and ½ cup Parmesan to polenta and whisk until melted; season with salt and pepper.

3.  Spoon polenta into bowls or onto a platter and top with pork. Scatter parsley and more Parmesan over top and drizzle with oil.

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