Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo
© Kana Okada

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

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In Italian cuisine, a sugo is a gravy or sauce. Here, Ethan Stowell prepares a pork sugo by braising pork shoulder until it almost falls apart, shredding it in a food processor and mixing it with a red-wine-and-tomato sauce; then he bakes it with orecchiette under a topping of Parmigiano cheese until crispy. The dish is an excellent alternative to the usual baked pasta, because it's not as heavy and cheesy but still delicious and satisfying.

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  1. 3 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
  2. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  5. 4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  6. 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  7. 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  8. One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  9. 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  10. 4 thyme sprigs
  11. 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  12. 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  13. 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  14. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  15. 1 1/2 pounds orecchiette
  16. 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)
  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well. Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead
The pork sugo can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat before tossing with the orecchiette.
Serve With
Green salad.

Suggested Pairing

A rich, black-fruited Amarone Classico from Italy.