Sunday Dinner Part II – Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu & Tomato Cream Sauce

Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu & Tomato Cream Sauce

The first time I had a tomato cream sauce was more years ago than I care to recall while I was doing a three month stint in Boca Raton, Florida.  I worked 90 hour weeks, had a barely-existent social life, and generally hated my time down there.  Among the few highlights were a bartender who was particularly nice to me, and a semi-regular lunch at a little café a few blocks from my office.  At least once a week, I would watch an incredible sauté cook produce pasta after pasta in a postage stamp sized kitchen.  My favorite was the Linguini Beanie, the signature dish of Beanie’s Café.  It was sautéed veggies with a simple tomato cream sauce.

Since that summer I have made countless versions of that dish.  This recipe bears almost no resemblance to the initial but it is very much the product of those brief lunches watching the kitchen.  It continues to evolve and I may never stop making this pasta because it brings me so much joy and still reminds me of the sliver of light it brought to very dark times.  I show my love through food and this dish shows more than most.  It was a natural choice for the second course for Sunday dinner.

Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu & Tomato Cream Sauce

Serves 4-5 entrée sized portions or 6-8 midcourse portions.

1 pound ground pork – 80/20 is preferred but any with a fat content greater than 10% will work

10 cloves of garlic

1 dozen fresh basil leaves

1 shallot thinly sliced – have you purchased a mandoline yet?

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

½ cup of sherry

¼ cup of olive oil

30 ounces of tomato sauce

½ cup of half and half

6 ounces of Parmigianino Reggiano cheese

1 pound of Tagliatelle

1 stick of salted butter

Kosher Salt to taste

Fresh Pepper to taste

I used a slow cooker to make this dish but you can also do this in any pot that conducts heat well if you have a burner with a consistent and low flame.  Start the slow cooker on low and add the olive oil. Smash the garlic cloves with a knife Pork Ragu 1or other implement and add to the oil.  Roll the basil leaves into a finger and slice into ½ inch strips and add to the oil.  Add the oregano and a sprinkle of salt to the oil.  Let it cook for about 30 minutes while the meat comes to room temperature.  Failing to cook meat at room temperature is among the most frequent mistake people make with food.

Once the garlic and other spices has had a chance to soften and get to know each other, add the sherry and the ground pork.  You will need Pork Ragu 2to use a wooden spoon to separate the meat but wait just a minute until everything has come back to temperature.  Stir the meat around until it has the ground meat texture.  It will take about an hour to mostly brown and cook.

After the meat is mostly cooked, add the tomato sauce and the half&half.  Add a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper and let cook for another hour.

The sauce now needs to be transferred to a stock pot and the temperature brought to a low boil.  Grate in the parmesan cheese but leave enough cheese to finish the bowls tableside.  Once the cheese is incorporated, lower the heat and return to the slow cooker.  Place the slow cooker on the Low setting for another 30 minutes.

The sauce is done at this point and the slow cooker setting should be set to warm until serving.

None of you need me to explain how to make al dente pasta or serve from this point, right?  OK, good, let’s move along.

A couple of things to note about this dish:

  • There are a few things that are on my Not Worth the Effort to Make from Scratch List, and unless you’re expert chef with an hankering to make your own pasta, Tagliatelle is on that list.  I am in love with the pasta from Severino.
  • Also on the aforementioned list is Tomato Sauce.
  • I am really sorry that I forgot to take a picture of the final product.
  • This dish can be condensed into a 30 minute cooking time by not using a slow cooker and doing all of the steps at higher heat.  It will still taste good but not nearly as good.
  • One really good time saver is to swap the ground pork with oven roasted sausage.

6 Responses to “Sunday Dinner Part II – Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu & Tomato Cream Sauce”

  1. As soon as I can wrest the slow cooker I want from the clutches of evil retailers who only carry the item on their website, I will be attempting this dish. It sounds lovely!

  2. This is a definate Sunday dinner. I will have to put it on rotation.

  3. I’m guessing that half and half is somekind of cream? Being English I’m not familiar with the term. Anyway as I was looking for a creamy pork ragu recipe that didn’t contain fennel I’m going to asssume it is and give it a go tonight!

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