Cavatelli with Mangalitsa Pork Ragu

CookingWinesLifestyle and Leisure

This is a dish that reminds me of a "family meal" in Italy. Half way through the work day, we would all stop and sit down to lunch together. I remember when fili, the sister of the chef I worked for, prepared this for us one day. It really hit me that Italians cherish the times when family and friends sit down together to break bread. Or in this case, pasta.

Makes 6 servings


10 oz pasta flour OO
8 oz of ricotta cheese
2 eggs
Salt to taste
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Place flour on a wooden table or cutting board and make a well in the middle with your fingers. Add the Ricotta cheese,  eggs, salt and nutmeg to the middle. Using a fork, begin to work the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they all come together and form a dough. Knead the dough with your hands for about 8-10 minutes or until it looks smooth. Sprinkle a touch more flour on the work surface if the dough begins to stick. Let dough rest for 1 hour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough in a large rectangle shape until the dough is ¼ inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut lengthwise into ½ inch strips. Then cut 1 ½ inch segments from each strip. You should now have rectangle pieces that our ¼" thick, ½" tall, and 1 ½" wide. With your thumb, press each rectangle onto a gnocchi board and roll with a downward motion to form a hollow tube with the pasta. If you don’t have a gnocchi board, you can just press it on a wooden cutting board. Once you have a good quantity made, dust with flour and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Then you can wrap and place inside a freezer for future use.

Mangalitsa Pork Ragu

2 pounds of bone in Mangalitsa pork shoulder.
You can substitute a good quality pork if mangalitsa is not available
1 Tblsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup of olive oil
¼ onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
1 cup of diced red tomatoes that have been peeled and cored
1 cup dry red wine
¼ tsp ground clove
½ tsp ground nutmeg
8 black peppercorns
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 sprig of oregano
2 bay leaves
1 quart of water

Pre-­heat oven to 325 F. Season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper. In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, place ¼ cup of olive oil on high heat and wait until it begins to smoke. Add the seasoned pork. Reduce heat to medium. Brown the pork on all sides. Remove from the pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook over medium heat until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer until the wine reduces by half. Add the water, clove, nutmeg, peppercorns, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves. Place the pork back into the pot. The liquid should barley cover the meat. Bring to simmer and place a cover over the pot. Place into a 325 F oven for 2-3 hours or until tender. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature. Remove pork from the broth and pull all the meat off the bones. Cut meat up into small bite size pieces and add back to the broth (this can be made 2 days ahead of time).

To assemble dish:

6 cups Cavatelli pasta
2 cups pork ragu
3 cups of Tuscan kale, cleaned and ripped into large pieces
4 tablespoons of dried red currants that have been reconstituted in some of the leftover pork broth
1 cup of good quality tomato sauce
3 Tblsp of cold unsalted butter
6 Tbslp of grated Parmigiano Reggiano

In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a rolling boil. Place the cavatelli into the water and cook for 5-­7 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan to medium heat. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan and heat until very hot. Add pork ragu, tomato sauce, kale and  currants. Simmer until the liquid in the pan has reduced by half. Add the cavatelli to the sauté pan and  simmer until the sauce reduces and coats the cavatelli. Add in the butter and the grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Taste for seasoning with salt and pepper. After you plate up the dish sprinkle 2 tablespoons of some very good extra virgin olive oil over it. Enjoy!

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