I had my very first pork ragu when I was in Italy. My grandmother owned a home in a tiny hillside town near Perugia and Orvieto. The town, Citta della Pieve, is a quintessential Umbrian town located just over the Tuscan border. There was a restaurant called Bruno's that we went to all the time. It was a small family-run place with some of the most spectacular food I have ever had. I happen to come from a family of Gourmands. We take our food very seriously - not pretentiously, but seriously!
One of the pasta dishes I first had left a lasting impression. It was so simple and so good - I find that's the case with most good cooking. Years later I thought about the dish and decided to replicate it. I'm really not sure how close I came - maybe I need to return to Bruno's to be certain - but the dish was perfect. I originally had it on pappardelle, a very wide noodle, which I prefer, but I served it on fettucine the other night and it was perfect.
The reason I call this simple is because I often use an already made, or store bought tomato sauce for this. You can, of course, make yours from scratch, but when pressed for time, such as a week night, there's nothing wrong with using a really good jarred variety. We happen to love Rao's and any natural brand. Read the labels, many too many sauces have sugar in them. We don't need the additional sugar and in my opinion, the sugar ruins the taste. I do not want a sweet pasta sauce!
I make too much on purpose and then freeze half of the ragu to use at a later time. I do this to as many recipes as I can.
This recipe is thick and hearty, but not so heavy that it weighs you down. It's perfect to make over the weekend and serve on a weeknight or and easy enough to make any night of the week.
1 32 oz jar of a really good quality marinara such as Rao's*
1.5 - 2 lbs ground pork
Olive oil, enough to lightly coat a skillet
1 medium - large onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup of mushrooms (any type), finely chopped
Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
In a large pan lightly coated with olive oil saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil and add the pork. Cook thoroughly on medium heat until the pork is lightly browned and thoroughly cooked. Add the garlic and onions. Stir well. Add the jar of marinara and let it simmer for 30 minutes or more on low heat.
While the ragu is simmering cook pasta per instructions on the package.
I prefer to add the ragu on top of the pasta and serve. You may want to add a touch more olive oil to the pasta to keep it from sticking.
Makes 8-10 servingsl