Spicy Pork Ragu Ziti

DJ Snugglemonster LOVES pork. When he got from a long trip, I wanted to treat him to a nice, homecooked meal and gave him his options. He, of course, chose this recipe. (Credit is due to Bon Apetit for the inspiration recipe that I have altered and the photo). Keep in mind, this is not your typical “baked ziti,” as the “sauce” is more of a stew. Great for leftovers though! The carrots add a nice subtle sweetness to the spicy, succulent sauce.

Servings: 8ish

Timing: 3.5 hours

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive Oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced, and chopped
  • 2 pounds of Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder (I found the boneless ribs to be a good idea for this recipe, so that you don’t have an extremely large Boston Butt to deal with), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery, cleaned and chopped
  • 10 large thyme sprigs
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and chopped finely
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can plum tomatoes squeezed of their juice and chopped, juice reserved
  • 1 can (5 tablespoons) tomato paste
  • 1 box ziti pasta
  • 2 cups coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat a 1-count of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp. Drain on a paper towel, reserving the oil in the pot. Season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in the reserved oil. Transfer to a bowl with the pancetta. Add sausage into the reserved oil and cook until browned. Transfer to the same bowl with the rest of the pork products.
  • Add the vegetables, thyme, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes to the oil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the red wine and boil, making sure to stir up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the rest to the pork, including any juices. Add the tomatoes and the tomato juice and the tomato paste. Cover the pot and simmer, until the pork falls apart, stirring often, for about 2 hours or so. While that is simmering, cook the ziti pasta and set aside.
  • Using a small spoon, skim all of the fat off of the liquid. Gently break apart all of the pork pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and the thyme sprigs.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray a 13×9 glass baking dish. Stir the drained pasta into the ragu. Add half of the mix to the baking dish. Spread half of the mozzarella cheese and half of the parmesan cheese over the dish. Add the rest of the ragu and then finish with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and bubbly.

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