pork ragu, big batch cooking for the new normal


3 weeks ago, the world turned upside down. with all of us navigating our individual quarantine situations, i thought i’d start posting here again and focus on big batch cooking and cooking projects that take some time. lord knows we all have some time on our hands! as a cooking instructor, my classes tend to focus on cooking from start to finish in a 2 1/2 hour time frame. these days, my job is on hold and i’m finding myself “project cooking”. my refrigerator is filled with deli-style containers filled with diced mirepoix, grated cheese, minced garlic and ginger etc. with these little “dinner starters” already in the fridge, making a meal is not as daunting as it would be if i had to start from scratch every night. it also frees up the other members of my family to try a new recipe since they basically have a sous chef living in the fridge. throw on an audio book and rip through some food prep to make this bizarre situation we are all living in feel less oppressive. next night’s dinner will be a breeze! 

for this recipe, i had a 5 lb, bone-in pork shoulder roast. i cut it in half and removed the bone. now, i have a pork bone in the freezer that would be a perfect base for split pea or lentil soup and another 2 1/2 lb pork shoulder to use for another big batch recipe. i served my pork ragu with creamy polenta for one night’s dinner, and with pasta and lots of grated parmesan for another dinner. you can use this technique with a chuck roast or even a whole chicken. making 2 different dinners from one protein is a great way to get creative and try some new recipes, but it also prevents your family from getting the “leftover blues”, which can come from eating the same thing for several days. it’s a real thing!  

pork ragu (makes enough for 2 separate meals for 4 people) 

  • 2 1/2 lb pork shoulder roast, cut into 2 inch cubes 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice 
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil 
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme 
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1-28oz can whole italian tomatoes 
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste 


  • preheat oven to 325. season pork generously with salt and pepper. heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. cook pork, turning often, until evenly browned. remove pork to a plate.
  • add the onion and garlic to the pot with all the pork drippings and season with salt and pepper. cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic start to get soft, about 5 minutes. add the tomato paste and cook until it darkens slightly, about 5 more minutes.
  • add the vinegar and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half. now add all the dried herbs and continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone.
  • add the whole tomatoes with all their juices, crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon as you go. add the pork back in with any juices that accumulated on the plate.
  • cover your pot and put in the preheated oven. let the sauce cook until the pork is falling-apart tender, sauce is thickened and flavors have melded, about 2 hours.
  • remove the bay leaves and using 2 forks, break up all the pork and stir it together to created the ragu. check for seasoning and enjoy with pasta or polenta.
  • left overs can be cooled and kept in a glass container in the fridge for 5 days or frozen in plastic for 6 months.6D1D6185-F37C-43A3-93AC-9D22152DBD56FBDF64A0-0EBF-443A-8784-BFB06F90A948A36A0493-5628-4514-94FC-A9AEC3E6FEBA42E8C560-10CC-4582-82DA-C083582511B1CF816A5E-BE79-422B-9D16-2C6E8AB307D740FC70A5-3CB0-41D6-B435-190A0D549710

About jentarantino

i went to culinary school back in the mid 90's where i soon discovered that most of my favorite things to eat begin with celery, carrots and onions; or at the very least, one of the three. i cooked professionally for a very short time, but never stopped being a "home cook". i used the skills i acquired in school to teach myself to bake and kept up on food trends by becoming addicted to cooking shows and food magazines. i will eventually open my own soup shop, but until that happens, this blog will be my culinary outlet. i hope it inspires you to... stand lovingly over a simmering pot, wait anxiously for rising bread dough, frost cupcakes with care, marinate, brine, and most importantly... make it yourself!
This entry was posted in italian, meat dishes, pork, sauces, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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