Thursday, August 28, 2008

Smokey Pork Pappardelle

Alright, so. My excuse didn't stick. It's been weeks and I'm still on the outs with the kitchen. My foot is better, I've been to the gym every day but one since my last post (and incidentally, am as light as I've ever been as an adult) and I've even tried cooking a bit. It's a measure of how checked out I am, though, that I didn't take one measly photo. Blah.

What is carrying me through? Well, let me tell you about my freezer. Because sauce is so.... saucy... we are often left with more than enough leftover for multiple dinners. Out of the freezer and into the pot and we can have a delicious home-cooked dinner in a matter of minutes. I cannot wait to have a garage that I can put a giant freezer in - seriously. (This is how I know I'm grown-up now, I long for appliances.) I am more than happy to make some pasta while the sauce reheats - I find it soothing.

So. Three hours in the oven. Don't worry about it. Pop it in and wander off. You won't go far, believe you me, because the smell coming from your oven will intoxicate you. Seriously. It's meaty and deep yet sweet... and feels just like home. I really like that the sauce is strained, because bits other than pork would have been out of place. Smooth sauce, tender pork, and home made pasta - really can't go wrong.

The recipe will probably feed 6 at once, but in our case, we ended up with three meals.

Smokey Pork Pappardelle
c/o Food & Wine Magazine, July 2008

For the luscious meat sauce here, Gerard Craft braises pork with apples and honey, which adds some unexpected sweetness. Another surprise: He finishes the pasta with a sprinkling of smoked salt.

One 2-pound piece of boneless pork shoulder
Smoked sea salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1-inch dice
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch dice
1 celery rib, cut into 1-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/3 cup Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound pappardelle
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Season the pork with 1 1/2 tablespoons of smoked salt. In a medium, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the pork and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned on all sides, 15 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate.

Add the apple, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it deepens in color, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock, vinegar and honey and bring to a simmer. Add the pork, cover and transfer the casserole to the oven. Braise the pork for about 3 hours, turning once halfway through, until very tender.

Transfer the pork to a plate. Strain the sauce into a large bowl, gently pressing on the solids. Pour the sauce back into the pot. Using 2 forks, shred the pork; discard any large pieces of fat. Transfer the shredded pork to the sauce and stir in the mascarpone. Season the sauce with smoked salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to the casserole with the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce and the parsley over moderate heat until well coated, about 1 minute. Transfer the pasta to warm bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with smoked salt and serve.

Make ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Wine: Craft’s smoky-sweet pappardelle will pair well with a red that has enough rich fruit not to be overwhelmed by the dish’s luxurious flavors. Southern Italy seems to specialize in reds of that nature, especially the flat, warm vineyards of Puglia and its primary grape variety, Negroamaro. Try the peppery 2005 Li Veli Pezzo Morgana Salice Salentino or the figgy 2006 La Corte Salice Salentino.

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