Recipe: Pork Ragù al Maialino, Allergen-free [Sponsored]

Photo courtesy of Zach Nelson 

Sam Sifton, my food writing crush at the New York Times recreated this delightful dish  from Maialino (called Malfatti if you go and dine there) that I’ve had many times, at Maialino. (I met Sam a few weeks back at an event and he is every bit as funny, charming and sweet in person as he is on the page.)
I’ve never made bone-in pork shoulder and I do loved a braised meat dish so I thought I’d try this one. Especially with October’s temperatures up and down here in the Northeast, this seemed like the perfect way to bring in fall flavors: a slow and low braised meat that is spoonable when cooked, gently scented with onion and fennel, finished with a broth-y sauce that’s been further enriched with the lightness of butter, lemon and a hit of peppery arugula. It was heavenly as I remembered it from Maialino, and made in my home, allergen-free for me and for you!

Oh yeah, my guests swooned for this dish, like eating the brothy scraps from the pot swooning.



This recipe is naturally tree nut free, peanut-free, fish-free and shellfish-free, soy-free. You can make it dairy-free by subbing extra virgin olive oil for butter and skipping the parm at the end. You can make it wheat-free by tossing with your fave gluten-free pasta.

I made this recipe over three days. You can do it all-in-one BUT I recommend spreading out over three days because: braised meat always tastes better the second day after it’s cooked, when you’re ready to serve a crowd, you haven’t been in the kitchen all day and it finishes in a snap.

My 6-pound bone-in shoulder yielded 3 pounds of meat. I served two pounds of pork to 8 guests with one pound of cooked pasta, and everyone had seconds. Three pounds would have served 10-12 guests, depending upon your portion sizes.

I bought all of my ingredients at Fairway Market in Manhattan. And Fairway Market graciously sponsored the making of this Pork Ragù al Maialino. Here are my policies regarding my sponsored posts


Recipe: Pork Ragù al Maialino, Allergen-free
Lighty adpated by me

Serves 8-12

1 pork shoulder, bone-in, 6 pounds
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed of fronds and green parts and cut into large pieces
2 cups Swanson’s 33% lower sodium chicken stock
2 cups water (enough combined liquids to almost cover the pork)
5 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound box pasta (I like the Gemelli shape)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Small handful baby arugula leaves
Parmesan (optional)

Using a sharp knife, remove the thick skin from the pork, leaving a sheen of fat on top of the meat. Season aggressively with salt and place in a large bowl, cover with saran wrap and place the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a deep saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When it shimmers, gently cook the onion and fennel until they begin to soften, about 7-10 minutes. Add the stock, water and thyme and bring to a simmer. Rinse pork to remove excess salt, dry with a paper towel and add to seasoned broth. Cover and place in the oven.

Cook the pork between 2.5 and 3 hours, turning once an hour, until the meat just begins to pull away from the bone.

Allow both meat and broth to cool on the stove top for 30 minutes, or until you can touch the meat with your hands. Remove the pork and gently pull the meat from the bone, then tear the chunks into bite-size shreds. Place these in a large Tupperware (with a lid).

Strain the braising liquid into a separate bowl and then pour enough of it over the meat to barely cover it. Close the lid and pop that into the fridge. Place the rest of the strained braising liquid in a container and put that into the fridge as well.

Pour the cold braising liquid into a large pot. It will be like jelly, don’t worry, it’ll melt again. Warm that through until liquefied. Then add butter and emulsify with a small whisk until entirely incorporated, and silky smooth. Taste for seasonings, add salt and pepper as needed.

While that is warming, take out the cold pork and if you didn’t shred it before, now slice into bite-sized chunks, removing any cold fat, bones or other inedible bits.

Add the shredded pork and cooking liquid that has covered it to the pot with the sauce, and warm it all back to a simmer.

Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil (boil to al dente directions on the box).

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the lemon juice. Stir to incorporate.  Add parmesan cheese here if adding. Taste for seasonings here, too. (Maybe needs more lemon? Or more salt and pepper? Mine didn’t need a thing!)

Plate and add the arugula on top.

Photo courtesy of Zach Nelson 

 Take a picture before you serve it because it’ll be gone, FAST.

I served this with more arugula on the side (which I forgot to put out in the mad rush to eat, oy).

I let everyone made their own individual little ice cream sundaes for dessert with ice creamsalted caramel, strawberry thyme sauce jam and safe, allergen-free chocolate chips. 

I also made a special balsamic glaze, recipe coming soon.


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