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Rigatoni with Pork Ragù

This rich sauce, redolent of red wine and the sweet flavors of pork and fennel, is a classic pairing with rigatoni. This recipe makes enough sauce for dinner tonight plus 2 additional dishes (see related recipes at left).

Storage tip: The pork ragù can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, or for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Ingredients:

For the pork ragù:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups canned chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  •  
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 lb. rigatoni or other large pasta shape
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Make the sauce
In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, carrots and celery and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the fennel seed and pork and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat colors slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir well to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have melded, about 1 hour. If the sauce seems to be drying out, add a few tablespoons of water.

Cook the pasta
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package instructions.

Place 2 cups of the sauce in a warmed serving bowl. Store the remaining sauce for another use (see note above). Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, stirring to coat. Serve, passing the cheese at the table. Serves 4; makes 8 cups sauce total.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Pasta, by Julia della Croce (Oxmoor House, 2006).