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Secret Recipe: Pork Sugo from Delfina

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For the past three years, we've placed Delfina's meaty pork sugo on our annual list, The Big Eat: 100 Things to Try Before You Die. The sauce gets its robust flavor from the braising pork's juices and is served over wide-ribbon egg pasta called pappardelle, which they make in-house. But, really, says chef de cuisine Matt Gandin, any fresh-cut pasta will do.

Makes 8-10 servings

2 pounds pork butt
1/2 rack pork spareribs
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
3 cups sliced yellow onion
1 cup carrots, sliced on a bias 
1 cup celery, sliced on a bias 
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped
5 sage leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 quarts chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Pinch chile flakes, to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, to taste
2 pounds pappardelle or other fresh pasta

1. Cut the pork shoulder into 4 pieces. Season the pork shoulder and spareribs with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, and add the pork. Brown well on all sides, remove the pork, and set aside.

2. To the pot add the onions, carrot, celery, garlic, and herbs, and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping up the browned bits on the pot bottom. Add the tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring for 2 minutes. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by half.

3. Return the seared pork and ribs to the pot, add chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer the pot to a 325-degree oven to cook until the meat is tender, approximately 2 hours. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, discard any congealed fat. Over low heat, warm the sugo through. Remove the pork and ribs from the liquid. Pull the meat off the ribs and chop. Pull the shoulder apart by hand, discard the fat, and break the meat into large chunks. 

5. Using a food mill, puree the liquid along with all of the vegetables and herbs. Return the resulting sugo to the pot, bring to a simmer, and reduce until it thickens, with good body and viscosity. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the pot, bring it a boil, and turn off heat.

6. To serve, in two batches, warm some of the pork sugo in a pan with the butter, chopped parsley, and chile flake (if desired). Concurrently drop the pasta in boiling, lightly salted water. When the pasta is almost fully cooked (approximately 2 minutes), drain the pasta, and add it to the pan containing the pork sugo. Cook the pasta in the sugo for another minute, and finish by stirring in some grated Parmigiano. Transfer to a serving plate, and serve immediately, offering more Parmigiano to grate over the top of the pasta.

Image by Michael M/Foodspotting