Weekly Winner – A Big Vat of Baked, Naked Goodness

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/095/22266412/files/2014/12/img_1497.jpg What’s not to like about a bit dish of baked pasta, right?? I mean, first and foremost, its pasta. Then usually it is baked to ooey-gooey perfection. Lots of sauce bound together by loads of melty cheese. It’s heaven. But every once in a while …. less is more. And when that “less” equals luscious pork shoulder slow cooked in a fabulous aromatic broth and then shredded into pasta and baked? Yes please! More please!

This week’s winner was Baked Orecchietti with Pork Sugo. It is not a quick recipe, but it is very easy. I got the recipe ages ago from Food and Wine (I think) and have made it a couple of times. But this week it really hit the spot. And I think because we hadn’t made it for so long – absence really did make the heart grow fonder.

The thing about this pasta dish is that there is no real “gooey” factor. It’s just the pasta and the pork and a smattering of parmesan. That’s it. And really, that’s all it needs. Well, that and a nice glass of red wine.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo
Serves 8

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 broth
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp chopped oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1-1/2 pounds orecchiette
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 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.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Phil
    Dec 24, 2014 @ 17:02:29

    Damn you for showing me this when I’m hungry!


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