Porchetta-Style Ragu

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This is a really easy weeknight dinner. I made homemade pasta but will taste just fine with dried store bought! This is adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe. The next time I try this I might use the pork loin and slow cook it and make it with shredded pork. I made the sauce and kept it warm in a crockpot until ready to serve.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups large homemade breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces cold meaty pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 pound coarsely ground pork loin or packaged ground pork
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, about 1/3 palmful
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, optional, if you have one in the freezer, plus freshly grated cheese for tossing and serving
  • 1 pound mezze rigatoni, or rigatoni (I used pappardelle
  • A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, toss the breadcrumbs and butter; season with salt. Bake, stirring once, until toasted and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, until the fat begins to render, about 2 minutes. Add the ground pork. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the rosemary, garlic, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, the fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper. Stir until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine. Cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the Parmigiano rind, if using. Reduce heat to low. Let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.

Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions. Scoop out about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Discard the Parmigiano rind from the sauce. Add a generous handful of grated Parmigiano, the lemon juice, and the pasta to the sauce. Toss, adding the cooking water as needed if the pasta is too dry. Season with salt.

Toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 teaspoon lemon zest, the parsley, and a bit more Parm. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with the breadcrumbs and shredded cheese.

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