It’s rare that something I cooked myself will bring me to tears. Unless I’ve ruined it. But in this case, my tears welled up at the first bite of this pappardelle with pork rib ragu because it brought back a flood of happy memories in Tuscany, sipping incredible wine and enjoying plates of pasta and cinghiale, wild boar. Since I lack any connections to wild boar hunters at the moment, this is probably the closest I’ll get to pappardelle al cinghiale in my kitchen. The recipe is easy, in that it doesn’t require any fancy technique, but it does require a good 3 hours to slowly braise the ribs in red wine until the meat falls off the bone. It’s even better if you can let it rest overnight, letting the flavors meld, and just re-heat for the final seasoning with balsamic vinegar and tossing with the pasta the next day. Goes nicely with a Tuscan dry red like Sangiovese, Montepulciano red, or Brunello di Montepulciano. Enjoy!
Pappardelle with Pork Rib Ragù
Adapted from the technique in Domenica Marchetti’s Pork Rib Ragu with Polenta recipe and the flavors of Bruce Aidell’s Tuscan-Style Spareribs with Balsamic Glaze recipe
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 lbs. (1.5 kg.) meaty pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
- fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed but whole
- 1 1/2 Tbs. fennel seeds
- 2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 tsp. dried ground sage
- 1 tsp. dried ground thyme
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1 can (28 oz./ 875 g) diced tomatoes (or more, to taste)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups dry red wine
- 2-3 Tbs. good balsamic vinegar
- 1 lb. or roughly 500 g. fresh pappardelle
- parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 300 F/150 C. Warm 1 Tbs. of the oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed and oven-proof pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add as many ribs as you can fit in the bottom in one layer without crowding and season with salt & pepper. Brown on one side, about 4 minutes, then use tongs to turn them over and brown on the other side, another 4 minutes. Transfer the browned ribs to a platter and repeat in batches. Add more oil if necessary between batches.
- Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat remaining in the pot. Add the onion and cook a couple minutes, then add the carrot and celery. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off any browned bits off the bottom as you cook the veggies (add more olive oil if you need to keep them from burning). When veggies are softened, after about 5 minutes, add the garlic and herbs & spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the tomatoes, bay leaves and red wine and return the ribs and any accumulated juices and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Add more water and stock if the liquid level is more than a half-inch below the top of the ribs (the ribs will cook down later and will start melting into the sauce).
- Cover and transfer the pot to the hot oven and let cook for 1 hour 30 mins., checking every 30 mins or so to stir. Uncover and return to the oven to cook another 30 mins. to let the sauce thicken. (Check every 10 mins. or so to make sure it doesn’t get too thick or burn).
- Remove the pot from the oven and let cool on the stovetop. Transfer the ribs to a platter to let cool enough to handle. Remove any bones that separated from the ribs, and the bay leaves from the pot. Once the ribmeat is cooled enough to handle, remove those bones and shred with your hands, careful to remove any bits of bone or joints. Return the shredded pork to the pot.
- If time allows, let the whole pot cool and then refrigerate overnight (the flavors are even better after a day). The next day, scoop out the accumulated fat on the top with a spoon. Or: let the pot cool enough so the fat rises to the top, and scoop it out with a spoon.
- Prepare the pappardelle according to package directions. Warm the pot up again and taste for seasonings; add more spices and salt & pepper and/or more diced tomatoes (I added an additional 1/2 can) and/or more liquid to taste (I added some pasta water from the pappardelle). Add 2 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar and let bubble and mix in with the flavors of the ragu. If desired, add more.
- When pappardelle is done to al dente, add to the ragu in the pot and mix well. Plate and sprinkle generously with grated cheese and parsley.
March 31, 2014 at 7:55 pm
Wow–this dish looks delicious and so delightful! I love your descriptions of Tuscany and how the meat slowly braises in red wine. Wish I could visit Tuscany, but for now I will have to just gather the ingredients for this recipe and enjoy it with some wine. Thanks for sharing! 😀
April 1, 2014 at 9:29 am
Thanks, Ada! Wish I could visit Tuscany now too 😀 I hope you do get to experience it someday – it’s such a beautiful place, made more special by its amazing produce, wine, and sunshine. Please let me know how the recipe turns out for you if you try it! Cheers, -Laura
March 31, 2014 at 8:01 pm
I’m going to make this and when I eat it, I’ll try to imagine sipping wine in Tuscany. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? I hope that’ll bring tears to my eyes, too. Doesn’t anybody need a good cry every now and then? You know, to show we’re still alive and kicking? 🙂
April 1, 2014 at 9:43 am
Definitely, Angie. I could use a good cry every so often, so it might as well be over a good bowl of pasta 🙂
March 31, 2014 at 8:37 pm
What a beautiful anecdote and amazing recipe. I know the feeling of being transported to a place that has your heart, through food. Amazing that you did such a good job it brought you back. Now that’s saying something. Yum! Gorgeous pics too.
April 1, 2014 at 9:46 am
Thanks, Amanda! Those fennel seeds are what did it, I think, and I would never have thought to put them in had I not found the Aidell recipe. The other spices and balsamic too are from his flavors, and it all works so nicely together!
March 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm
This reminds me of home. My Mom made a pork rib ragu that we had with homemade pasta and it was hands down my favorite dish that my Mom made. Love this and I can understand why it brings you to tears, the memories but also just how delicious it is.
April 1, 2014 at 9:49 am
Oh, how wonderful to remember your mom’s pork rib ragu so lovingly. With homemade pasta it must have been phenomenal. Thanks for sharing, Suzanne, and understanding my sentimental feelings about this dish 🙂
March 31, 2014 at 9:29 pm
I just love this dish. Actually I think it’s better with pork than with cinghiale, very good. Brava!
April 1, 2014 at 9:53 am
Grazie! The pork rib was nice indeed 🙂 But I had wonderful cinghiale I’ll never forget! Maybe it has something to do with the gorgeous setting of Tuscany (and its amazing chefs/cooking). Anyway, this was one of my favorite things I’ve made, so I’ll definitely be making it again. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
April 1, 2014 at 6:38 am
Oh, I ate something very similar to this in a restaurant recently except that the meat was short ribs – it was one of the best restaurant meals I have eaten in a really long time. I really want to make your recipe! It sounds sooooo good!
April 1, 2014 at 10:09 am
Thanks, Julianna! I too love this type of meal at a restaurant – homemade pasta and it seals the deal! So comforting & full of flavors from the slow braise. It’s time-consuming to do at home, but worth it on occasion. I’ll definitely do this one again. If you try it, please let me know what you think, I’d love your feedback!
April 1, 2014 at 10:03 am
Wow, this looks amazing! I made something similar, but with duck, here http://cheesybiscuit.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/rich-duck-ragu-with-pappardelle-parmesan/
April 1, 2014 at 10:21 am
Oh, the duck must be heavenly! Mmmmm…
April 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm
This looks and sounds delicious!! I am so happy to have found your blog, and can’t wait to try out some of your recipes 😀
April 3, 2014 at 11:53 am
Thanks both for your comments and for finding me! I’ve peeked over at your blog and can’t wait to explore more – looks like we have a lot of favorite foods and flavors in common 🙂 Cheers! ~Laura
April 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm
This looks sooo good! I love a hearty meaty pasta dish. I am bookmarking it. Thanks!
April 3, 2014 at 11:54 am
Cool, thanks 🙂 This is hearty indeed, and a good comfort food. Hope you love it!
April 2, 2014 at 9:22 am
Oh that looks sooo good! A great recipe
April 3, 2014 at 11:56 am
Thanks! I imagine that you are getting the real deal in Italy!
April 3, 2014 at 11:57 am
I’m also going to imagine sipping wine in Tuscany, when I make this recipe. There is something magical about a really good ragu.
April 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm
This is my husband’s favorite dish!! Your version looks amazing! 🙂
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