Slow-Cooked Pork and Fennel Ragù

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 200 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10

This dish takes time to prepare, but it’s worth the wait and your house will smell divine while it cooks. The recipe makes enough sauce to cover at least two meals. Pull together the recipe today and then enjoy the second meal later in the week. The hearty pork is also delicious served on a soft roll for an Italian-style sandwich.


  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder, about 2 1/2 lb. (1.25 g)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fennel seed
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 l) dry red wine
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 to 3 cups (8 to 24 fl. oz./250 to 750 ml) low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 lb. (500 g) pappardelle
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C).

In a large Dutch oven or other heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, warm the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork well with salt and pepper. When the oil is very hot, add the pork and sear, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large platter and set aside.

Add the onion to the pot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and fennel seed and sauté just until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) of the beef broth and bring to a boil. Return the pork shoulder to the pot; the liquid should come about one-third of the way up the sides of the pork. If it doesn’t, add more beef broth as needed.

Transfer the pot to the oven and cook until the meat shreds easily with a fork, about 3 hours. Turn the pork every 45 minutes or so, adding a little more broth as needed if the pot seems dry. When the pork is done, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Using 2 forks, shred the meat in the pot. Season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine.

When ready to serve, bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl. Pour the pork ragù over the top of the pappardelle, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Pasta Night, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2014)

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