Oct 25, 2019

Braised Pork Ragù over Cavatelli with Burrata

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
The ragù is served over pasta and topped with creamy burrata cheese for one of my favorite hearty meals for a cozy night in. It’s perfect for a chilly winter night curled up with a bottle of full-bodied red wine.

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Pork shoulder (also known as Boston pork butt) is slowly braised on the stove in a Dutch oven with onion, carrots, celery (the three together are known as mirepoix) and tomatoes until the pork is extremely tender and essentially melts into the ragu sauce.

The ragù is served over pasta and topped with creamy burrata cheese for one of my favorite hearty meals for a cozy night in. It’s perfect for a chilly winter night curled up with a bottle of full-bodied red wine.

Braised Pork Ragù over Cavatelli with Burrata

What is the difference between ragù and Bolognese?

There is a geometric comparison here like how all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares. All Bolognese is ragu but not all ragu is Bolognese. Filled with ground meat, Bolognese often called Ragu alla Bolognese is a specific type of ragu.

The braised pork ragù is served over pasta and topped with creamy burrata cheese for one of my favorite hearty meals for a cozy night in.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Pork shoulder –  This cut can be referred to as the pork shoulder, picnic shoulder or picnic ham. Because this cut gets a lot of work, it is a very muscle-heavy cut, making it ideal for braising. Slowly cooking the meat at a low temperature helps to break down the tough meat, resulting in tender, succulent pork. 
  • Mirepoix – The vegetables that are sautéed as the base of the sauce to create a flavorful foundation are carrots, celery and onion. This combination is referred to as sofrito in Italian and is often called a mirepoix in French.
  • Cavatelli – Cavatelli is one of my favorite pasta shapes with likeness to miniature hot dog buns. It hails from the South of Italy, specifically Puglia. There is a reason that certain pasta noodles are classically paired with certain sauces – cavatelli works with ragu because the shape holds chunkier sauces in its curled edges. If cavatelli can’t be located opt for a similar shape such as orecchiette.
  • Collard greens – I add a bunch of collard greens for a bit of bite to offset the sweetness of the sauce. They can be substituted with other greens such as Tuscan or curly kale, rapini or Swiss chard.
  • Burrata – Burrata seems to be everywhere these days – you might ask why is burrata so popular? Burrata is a soft, fresh Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s mozzarella’s creamier cousin since it is essentially cream-filled mozzarella. It has gained popularity in recent years for the “instagram-worthiness” – with people posting videos pulling apart the cheese to reveal the creamy center.
Braised Pork Ragù over Cavatelli with Burrata recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

How to Make Braised Pork Ragu

  1. Pat the pork shoulder completely dry with paper towels and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil and heat through.
  2. Sear the pork. Add the pork and sear all over, about 6 minutes total. Remove the pork from the pan, reserving as much fat in the pan as possible and set aside.
  3. Cook the mirepoix. Return the pot to medium heat and add the onion, carrot and celery, sautéing until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Braise the pork. Pour in the wine and simmer until the vegetables are almost dry, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the pork back to the pot with the tomatoes and their juices. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover with the lid and lower the heat to low, braising until the pork is extremely tender and easily falls apart, about 3 hours.
  5. Shred the pork. Remove any large chunks of the pork and shred with two forks and return to the pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the oregano, red pepper and Parmesan until combined.
  6. Add the greens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Next, add the collard greens, stirring to combine, cooking until the greens are tender and wilted, about 8 minutes.
  7. Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Add the cavetelli and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes.
  8. Assemble and serve. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the pork ragu.

How to Store This Sauce

This sauce can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use or vacuum-sealed and frozen for up to two months. This sauce is extremely versatile – while it is delicious over pasta it also pairs well with creamy polenta or Trader Joe’s famous cauliflower gnocchi.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Braised Pork Ragu Over Cavatelli with Burrata

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2” chunks
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 28-ounce cans peeled tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch collard greens, ribs removed and chopped
  • 1 pound cavatelli (or other favorite pasta shape)
  • 8 ounces burrata

Instructions:

  • Pat the pork shoulder completely dry with paper towels and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil and heat through.
  • Add the pork and sear all over, about 6 minutes total. Remove the pork from the pan, reserving as much fat in the pan as possible and set aside.
  • Return the pot to medium heat and add the onion, carrot and celery, sautéing until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the wine and simmer until the vegetables are almost dry, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the pork back to the pot with the tomatoes and their juices. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover with the lid and lower the heat to low, braising until the pork is extremely tender and easily falls apart, about 3 hours.
  • Remove any large chunks of the pork and shred with two forks and return to the pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the oregano, red pepper and Parmesan until combined.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Next, add the collard greens, stirring to combine, cooking until the greens are tender and wilted, about 8 minutes.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Add the cavetelli and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the pork ragu.

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  1. Bravo Kylie! What a delicious dish, I had to make myself a little snack while cooking this because the smell of all the ingredients had me drooling. Worth the 3 hour cook time, the meat sauce with the burratta… AHHH don’t get me started. This is a perfect dish for a cold cozy night. Will definitely add this recipe to my collection 🙂