Pappardelle with Pork Ragù
Meaty pork ribs add hearty flavor to this ragù, which marries perfectly with homemade pappardelle, wide ribbons of egg pasta. The pasta is topped with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, an aged sheep’s milk cheese made in the countryside around Rome. Aged pecorino sardo or pecorino siciliano, from Sardinia and Sicily, respectively, is a good substitute.
- 1 1/2 lb. meaty pork spareribs, cut into individual ribs
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 1/2 lb. fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 can (28 oz.) plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 lb. fresh egg pasta dough (see related recipe at left)
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving
Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In a nonreactive Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ribs and cook, turning as needed, until nicely browned on all sides, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a plate.
Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pot, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and deglaze the pot, scraping up the browned bits from the pot bottom. Cook for 1 minute to cook off some of the alcohol. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, and a pinch each of salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer. Return the ribs to the pan, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the ribs are very tender and the meat comes away easily from the bone, about 2 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, divide the pasta dough and roll out each piece into a sheet 1/16 inch thick. Lightly flour a rimmed baking sheet. Lay 1 pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface and, using a chef’s knife or pastry wheel, cut it into strips 4 inches long by 1 inch wide. Lay the strips flat on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them so they don’t touch and separating each layer with a lightly floured kitchen towel. Let the pasta dry for 10 to 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the ribs from the sauce and let cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and shred it. Return the meat to the pan and cook, uncovered, over low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a rolling boil over high heat and add about 2 Tbs. salt. Add the pappardelle, stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce, tossing gently to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the 1/2 cup cheese and toss again. Serve immediately and pass additional cheese at the table. Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).