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Fresh Pasta with Pork Shoulder and Cocoa Sugo
© Christina Holmes

Fresh Pasta with Pork Shoulder and Cocoa Sugo

  • ACTIVE: 45 MIN

Chef Vic Casanova flavors house-made pasta with cocoa to serve with his luscious pork ragù. The inspiration: traditional Italian recipes like this one, in which a little cocoa powder deepens the savory flavor of a meaty sauce.

  1. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 2 pounds trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 slices
  3. Salt
  4. Freshly ground pepper
  5. 1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
  6. 4 medium carrots, finely chopped
  7. 4 celery ribs, finely chopped
  8. 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  9. 1 1/2 tablespoons minced rosemary
  10. 1 1/2 tablespoons minced sage
  11. 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  12. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  13. 1 cup dry white wine
  14. 1 quart chicken stock
  15. 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  16. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  17. Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  18. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  19. 1 pound fresh tonnarelli or linguine
  20. Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the pork slices with salt and pepper and brown over moderately high heat, turning once, 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate.
  2. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary and sage to the casserole and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cocoa powder and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are softened, 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Return the pork to the pot, nestling it into the liquid. Cover and braise in the oven until very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove the meat and pull it into large shreds, discarding any fat. Transfer the braising liquid and vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the meat and sauce to the pot and stir in the mint, parsley, crushed red pepper and butter.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce, tossing over low heat until nicely coated, about 2 minutes. Serve the pasta in bowls, passing grated Pecorino at the table.
Make Ahead

The pork-cocoa sugo can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Suggested Pairing

Pour a ripe, fruit-forward Nero d’Avola from Sicily to go with this cocoa-scented, Sicilian-inspired ragù.

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