Monday, January 2, 2017

Rigatoni Rigate con Ragù di Carne Maiale Macinata

     Rigatoni Pasta With Minced Pork Ragù!
     Pork is a traditional choice of meat for making an Italian Ragù for pasta.  The word Ragù translates to "stirred stew."  There are many regional pork ragù recipes in Italy.  Minced Pork Ragù is usually served as an Italian home style meal.    
     Tomato is not used in old traditional Italian Ragù recipes that come before the age of the Columbian Exchange.  Many modern Italian Ragù recipes have plenty of tomato in the list of ingredients.  The better quality of Italian tomato, the better the Ragù will be!  Imported Italian canned tomatoes are the best choice.  California tomato products tend to be acidic and the difference in flavor is easily noticed.
     The selection of spices and herbs for a Minced Pork Ragù depends on local or regional Italian traditions too.  Some regions incorporate Arabic spices, while other regions stick with Italian or Greek herbs.  The simpler the better is a good thing to keep in mind, but some Italian chefs prefer complex spice combinations when making Minced Pork Ragù.
     The choice of Italian pasta shape for a Minced Pork Ragù depends upon local tradition or personal taste.  Because this stew is so simple, many Italian cooks prefer choose fancy artisan pasta shapes.  Traditionalists prefer tube pasta, ribbon pasta or capellini pasta.  
     I chose a medium size Rigatoni Rigate Pasta for today's recipe.  Rigatoni is a tube shaped pasta that is fun to eat.  The word Rigate basically is used to describe pasta that has ridges on the surface.  A sauce will easily cling Rigate style Rigatoni Pasta.  I tend to cook my pastas to order (a la minute) both in restaurants and at home.  This is the best way to to ensure that the pasta will be al dente!
     Ground Pork from a market is okay for today's recipe, if the ground pork is very lean.  The problem is that most ground pork from a grocery store is loaded with fat.  Pork that is minced by hand is the best choice, because it adds a rustic texture.  After trimming the excess fat off of the pork shoulder, use a heavy knife or cleaver to chop and mince the meat by hand.  Not only will the flavor be better, the texture will be more interesting too.
     Minced Italian Parsley is added during the stewing process and it is used as a garnish.  Parsley has medicinal effects that benefit those who eat a meat rich diet.  Finely minced fresh Italian Parsley sprinkled over a pasta adds flavor and color.  Finely minced parsley also shows that the cook took the time to mince the parsley correctly and a guest will certainly trust that the same care was taken when cooking the entrée!    
     A savory slow cooked Ragù does not need large piles of Parmigiana or Romano Cheese for it to be great tasting.  Just a light sprinkle of finely grated Parmigiana is plenty for this rich sauce, but some guests will prefer plenty more, so be sure that some extra cheese is served on the side.

     Minced Pork Ragù (Ragù di Carne Maiale Macinata):
     This recipe yields about 3 1/2 cups.  (Enough for 2 pasta portions.)
     The minced pork ragù takes at least 1 1/2 hours of slow cooking to be fully cooked and so the full rich flavors develop.  The stewing sauce is simmered and reduced 3 times.  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot (or brazing pan) over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lard.
     Add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic just starts to turn a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of minced onion.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced carrot.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced celery.
     Sauté till the soffritto vegetables start to become tender and aromatic.
     Step 3:  Add 12 ounces of minced lean pork shoulder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole fennel seed.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Sauté till the minced pork is fully cooked and very lightly browned.
     Step 4:  Add 14 ounces of imported Italian canned crushed tomatoes.  (About 1 1/3 cups)
     Stir till the tomatoes start to simmer.
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 cup of Italian dry red wine.
     Add 1 cup of pork broth.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 2 pinches of basil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground sage.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 6:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the stew is thick.  Stir the ragù occasionally.
     Step 7:  Add 1 cup of pork broth.
     Simmer and reduce a second time, till the ragù is thick.
     Step 8:  Add 1 last cup of pork broth.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is thick enough to easily cling to the meat.  (The minced pork ragù should be simmered till it is thick.)
     Keep the ragù warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Rigatoni Rigate con Ragù di Carne Maiale Macinata:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large portions of rigatoni pasta in a pot of boiling water over high heat.
     Use a wooden pasta stick or wooden spoon handle to occasionally stir the pasta, so the pasta does not stick.  (A sharp metal spoon will damage the pasta.)
     Boil the pasta till it is al dente!
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the pasta and leave the pasta in the pot.
     Add the Minced Pork Ragù to the pasta in the pot.
     Gently toss the ragù and pasta together.
     Step 3:  Place the sauced pasta in a large family style pasta bowl or two separate pasta bowls.
     Sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of finely grated Italian Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of finely minced Italian Parsley over the pasta.

     Rigatoni Rigate with Minced Pork Ragù is comfortable and delicious on a chilly day!

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