February 13, 2019 11:00:32 AM
Ragu can be made from any meat or combination of meats, but the earthiness of a pure pork ragu is undeniably attractive -- and great comfort food.
Most recipes for traditional pork ragu use pork shoulder and a hard-to-find, bony cut like neck, shank, or feet to give the sauce great body. We were determined to use just one: Quick-cooking pork sausage or lean pork loin were parched after braising.
We needed a collagen-rich cut of pork, which would have deep flavor and a melting texture after long cooking, and the bones included. Baby back ribs fit the bill perfectly. We tried using all baby back ribs and found the resulting ragu rich and meaty with perfect silkiness.
For a classic Italian flavor profile, fennel took the place of celery in the ragu's base and ground fennel rubbed into the ribs echoed the anise flavor. Simmering the garlic head whole right in the sauce yielded sweeter softened cloves that we squeezed back into the sauce when tender.
With fresh herbs and red wine, our ragu tasted balanced and far more complex than its simple preparation would suggest. This recipe makes enough sauce to coat 2 pounds of pasta. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Start to finish: 3 hours
2 (2 1/4-to-2 1/2 pound) racks baby back ribs, trimmed and each rack cut into quarters
2 teaspoons ground fennel
Kosher salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 large fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored, and chopped fine
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped fine
1/4 cup minced fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed coarse
3 cups chicken broth
1 garlic head, outer papery skins removed and top quarter of head cut off and discarded
Nutrition information per serving: 559 calories; 273 calories from fat; 30 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 168 mg cholesterol; 628 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 56 g protein.