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sunday, after all

September 23 2010 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Pasta,Pork » 24 comments

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

There is something so wonderful about an all-day recipe.  It’s automatically special.  It instantly fills your day up with purpose.  It tethers you to your kitchen and, if you’re like me, that’s just fine by you.  It promises to fill your home with delicious fragrances and gentle warmth.  Best of all, it screams weekend—because, in my world at least, dinner and its preparation simply is not an hours-long affair on a weeknight.  In the fall, such a recipe screams Sunday afternoon, in particular, when golden sunshine filters into the kitchen and the whistles and cracks and cheers of a football game on TV waft out of the living room.  And, because it is fall, with the first hints of chill in the air, your all-day-Sunday recipe might as well be good and hearty.


Last Sunday, in accordance with all of the above, I committed myself to a baked pasta with pork sugo.  This project had me break down a hunk of pork shoulder into chunks, which were first browned and then braised in a concoction of wine, soffritto, tomatoes and fresh herbs that smelled just as lovely as you might expect.  Like any good braise, this one was low and slow.  Hours later, the pork had become fall-apart tender.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

The next step of the recipe gave me pause.  It instructed me to transfer the braised vegetables and meat to a food processor for several short pulses.  I’m not sure why, but this turned my stomach just a little bit, but I forged on and, a few quick whirls later, I saw the wisdom of the method.  The pork was perfectly shredded, while the vegetables remained, on the whole, intact.  I could’ve happily stopped at this point and eaten the results straight from the food processor bowl.  Instead, I reminded myself that this was a Sunday and this was an all-day recipe, one that didn’t allow short-cuts, and, so, with new resolve, I forged ahead.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

Next, the shredded pork mixture went back into the braising liquid, where it became a wonderful-looking sauce.  Into that went a pound or so of barely cooked pasta.  The recipe called for orecchiette, but my store was out of that shape in the brand that I favor, so I opted for torchietti—translation: little torches.  And that’s exactly what the pasta looks like, you’ll think, because you have time to stop and ponder such things; it’s Sunday, after all: no need to rush.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

Once the pasta and sauce are tossed, you’ll again want to stop short, truncating the recipe.  You’ll think how great it would be to plunk the Dutch oven right down on the table between you and Kevin, or, er, your dining mate, each armed with only a glass of wine and a fork.  What a feast—so primitive!  so rustic!—it would be.  But again, you’ll focus: it’s Sunday and you’re not done yet.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

There’s still the baking to be done, and that happens only after generously showering the dish with shredded parmigiano reggiano.  And the parmesan is all there is to this dish in the way of cheese, which is a departure from our typical baked pasta recipes.  As it turns out, the parmesan is just enough—it doesn’t detract from the rich, earthy sauce that has snaked its way through the torchietti, but it still provides a nutty, crunchy topping. While all of this had been fun, the best part of an all-day-Sunday recipe is, of course, the pay off: Sunday dinner.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

Here’s hoping you’ve got a special recipe stashed away to trot out this Sunday.  Happy (almost) weekend, friends!

Baked Pasta with Pork Sugo
Food & Wine

Serves 8 (generously)

3 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
4 thyme sprigs
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 pounds orecchiette (or similarly-shaped pasta)
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)

Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette/pasta until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well. Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.

24 comments so far. »
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  1. Half Assed Kitchen says on September 23 2010 at 5:23 pm:

    Awesome! I want.

  2. emily says on September 23 2010 at 6:57 pm:

    Lovely….thats all i can say…simply… lovely…

  3. Maddie says on September 23 2010 at 7:40 pm:

    Kristin, the shredded pork looks good enough to eat right through my computer screen! I love that the strange-sounding food processor trick turned out so fantastically. (And I’m glad, too, that you got to keep the vacation mellowness going by using an entire Sunday to make feel-good pasta, not just do chores or run errands.)

  4. Lisa says on September 23 2010 at 7:43 pm:

    What a delicious Sunday dinner. I’m definitely cravings some after seeing your pictures of it.

  5. Jessica @ How Sweet says on September 23 2010 at 9:31 pm:

    I love recipes that take all day. The anticipation is so exciting.

  6. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on September 24 2010 at 4:44 am:

    mmm… comfort food – love it!

  7. heather @ chiknpastry says on September 24 2010 at 7:19 am:

    i wish more people were excited about staying in their kitchen all day sunday and cooking. it’s really the only thing that helps me look forward to sunday, since it’s the day before monday (i.e., work)! although now, i have football again, so there’s that too :).

    will definitely have to give this recipe a try – looks fantastic!

  8. Elizabeth says on September 24 2010 at 10:24 am:

    This looks incredible. I’m so glad you’re back and writing to all of us!

  9. Vertigo B says on September 24 2010 at 1:22 pm:

    I would have had my doubts about the food processor step as well, but the finished product looks sooooo goood! I may be in the kitchen all day on Sunday!

  10. Rose-Anne says on September 24 2010 at 7:52 pm:

    I like your take on the all-day recipe! I usually settle for a couple of hours in the kitchen on the weekends, but then again, that’s with three or four recipes, not one incredible special recipe.

  11. Sues says on September 25 2010 at 9:05 am:

    Yum, I can almost smell this in my kitchen as we speak :) I love all-day recipes too, especially if it’s chilly outside… Or better yet, a blizzard!

  12. Jessie says on September 25 2010 at 9:19 am:

    Hmmm…nice and filling! WANT!

  13. Alex says on September 25 2010 at 3:13 pm:

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was fantastic. I am living in Italy and my Italian boyfriend gave it two thumbs up which is a true compliment. Would it be okay with you if I link to your blog and this recipe from my blog? I would love to share this recipe with others. Thanks!

  14. Taylor says on September 26 2010 at 9:25 pm:

    The cheese on top looks so fluffy and delicious!

  15. Barbara says on September 27 2010 at 10:34 am:

    Wow. That looks absolutely divine!

  16. caitlindentino says on September 27 2010 at 1:32 pm:

    I know what you mean about the food processor – its seems weird, and frankly, gross, but somehow works. I do that when I make a turkey lasagna – which doesn’t break down quite like beef or pork, and I like to have a lot of really thin layers. Glad to see I wasn’t crazy when I started doing that…

  17. LimeCake says on September 27 2010 at 3:39 pm:

    this looks delicious! perfect for Fall!

  18. The Rowdy Chowgirl says on September 28 2010 at 8:48 am:

    This really does look like the perfect Sunday meal. I’m with you–long cooking on Sunday, short cooking (or leftovers!) on weeknights!

  19. rebecca says on September 28 2010 at 12:07 pm:

    If I don’t have a food processor, do you think a blender would work? Any other suggestions instead of the Cuisinart?

  20. Andrea [bella eats] says on September 29 2010 at 6:10 am:

    I so love Sunday dinner! With a busy schedule, it has become the one day of the week that I actually cook a full meal, and I cherish it. Thank you for this lovely recipe!

  21. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on September 29 2010 at 6:58 am:

    Thanks, everyone, for the nice comments.

    Alex: I’m so glad to hear that you gave this a try and liked it (and that it got the stamp of approval from your Italian boyfriend, no less!). And you can of course link to the post.

    caitlindentino: That’s an itneresting idea. I could see it working well when working on a filling for small stuffed pastas, too.

    rebecca: I think a blender would work — just be careful not to over-blend. You could also shred the pork with two forks, which would be a bit time consuming.

  22. molly says on September 29 2010 at 7:45 pm:

    DANG it. Just drooled on my keyboard.

  23. ToyLady says on October 05 2010 at 5:55 am:

    I just stumbled upon your blog – and I’m glad I did!

    My husband and I discovered that same F&W sugo a couple of years ago, and we LOVE it! Since there are just the two of us, we freeze just the sauce in quarts – to be tossed with pasta, cheesed and baked at a later time. . . so nice to have “Sunday food” on a Tuesday!

  24. Meg says on February 02 2011 at 5:38 pm:

    I made this today – perfect dish for the Blizzard of 2011!

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