This Shredded Pork Ragu on Creamy Parmesan Polenta is something you should have at least once in your lifetime. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork in a luscious tomato sauce ladled over cheesy and creamy polenta. This Italian meat sauce is the stuff dreams and comfort dinners are made of.
What you need to make Pork Ragu with Parmesan Polenta:
- pork shoulder
- 28 oz. canned tomatoes
- italian seasoning or dried rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage
- dry red wine
- tomato paste
- olive oil
- parmesan cheese
When it comes to comfort food, it’s Italian meat sauces that I crave. Between my Mom’s Meat sauce, and this Lemon Caper Turkey Pasta, nothing beats a bowl of tender noodles lashed with a fabulous sauce. AM I RIGHT???
Except perhaps this pork ragu over creamy, parmesan polenta. Honestly one of the best meals I’ve made all winter, this pork ragu has so much going for it!
Why you will love this Italian meat sauce:
- Made from the relatively inexpensive pork shoulder, you get a lot of bang for your buck!
- Hands on time is about 30 minutes leaving you more time to do other things!
- Tastes even better the next day and is a freezer favorite!
- Guaranteed to make even the worst day better!
A Ragu is an Italian meat sauce made from beef, pork, chicken or game.
A Bolognese sauce is a ragu that is named for the region it came from – Bologna. Marcella Hazan’s recipe is the most well known and definitely worth making.
Yes! Ragu sauces actually taste better if they are made one to two days ahead of time.
How to make Pork Ragu:
- Sear the meat:
Add olive oil to the pot and brown the meat on both sides
- Saute the aromatics
Remove the meat and add the onions, celery and dried herbs
- Brown the tomato paste:
Add the tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes until it’s a dark reddish brown!
- Add the wine and remaining ingredients
Add the wine, scraping up all the browned bits, and then the tomatoes and add back the meat.
- Cover the pot and pop in the oven!
Add the meat back to the pot along with any juices. Spoon some of the sauce on top and then cover the pot and place in the oven.
Tips for making Pork Ragu:
- Getting a good sear on the meat makes all the difference in the texture and flavor of the sauce. Dry the surface of the meat well with a paper towel.
- Caramelizing the tomato paste makes a huge difference in how
the saucetastes, giving it a deeper and richer flavor. The extra few minutes it takes is definitely worth it!
- You don’t need to use an expensive red wine, but definitely use one that is on the drier side and that you enjoy.
I hope you enjoy this Pork Ragu with Creamy Parmesan Polenta as much as we do here at ACT! I would love it if you let me know and left a recipe rating!!
Pork Ragu with Creamy Parmesan Polenta
- 3 /12 pounds bone in pork shoulder or pork butt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 brown onion cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup celery cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes in juice san marzano tomatoes are delicious in this
- 1 cup dry red wine cabernet sauvignon or a merlot work really well
For the Parmesan Polenta
- 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
To make the Pork Ragu:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Cut the pork shoulder or butt into 3 or 4 pieces that will fit into your pot. Bot the meat dry with a paper towel.
- Heat a large (4 qt) heavy bottom lidded dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the meat.
- Let the meat cook for about 5 minutes or until the bottom is nicely browned and easily lifts off the bottom of the pan. If the meat sticks, it’s not done searing yet!
- Flip the meat over and sear the other side.
- Remove the meat from the pan and add the onions, garlic and celery.
- Cook, stirring often for another 4 – 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are tender.
- Add the salt, pepper, herbs and stir for another minute.
- Add the tomato paste. Stirring constantly for 3 – 4 minutes until the tomato paste is a dark reddish brown. Tomato paste can burn, so keep stirring!
- Add the wine and stir, scraping up the bottom of the pot with a spatula. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot and stir. Add the meat. If the sauce doesn’t cover the meat (it probably won’t) spread some of the sauce on top of the meat.
- Cover the pan and place in the oven. Bake for approximately 2 hours or until the pork is very tender.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the pork and, using two forks, shred the pork meat.
- Degrease the sauce by spooning the fat off the top. NOTE: If you refrigerate the sauce overnight, the fat will rise to the top and harden making it very easy to remove.
- Add the shredded pork back to the degreased sauce and stir to combine. Serve over the parmesan polenta, passing additional parmesan if desired.
How to make the Creamy Parmesan Polenta
To make the Polenta in an Instant pot:
- Add the cornmeal, salt, and water to the instant pot. Stir with a whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Place the lid on, turn the vent to closed, and set to the “porridge” setting. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
- After the timer goes off, allow to the pot to do a natural steam release – i.e. don’t move the vent knob!
- Once the steam has released, remove the lid and stir in the butter. Then stir in the parmesan cheese, about a 1/3 cup at a time, allowing the cheese to fully melt before adding the remaining cheese.
How to make the Creamy Parmesan Polenta on the stove top:
- In a large shallow bottomed pan, bring the water to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, stirring to remove any lumps.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes, scraping along the bottom of the pan.
- Cook for approximately 30 – 40 minutes until the polenta is thick and creamy.
- Stir in the butter and parmesan as outlined above.
- Blotting the meat dry with a paper towel helps the meat develop a nice brown crust so don’t skip this step!
- Browning the tomato paste (known as pince′ in French) is a culinary technique used primarily with tomato paste. Allowing the paste to cook (and caramelizing the sugars) gives a much richer and deeper flavor to the finished dish. This is definitely another step not to skip!
- For the red wine, choose a drier red – either a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot works well or a blend that is on the drier side. Definitely, don’t use an expensive bottle but do use a wine you would enjoy drinking!
- The ragu actually tastes better the day after it’s made – really allowing the flavors to blend. Making the dish a day ahead also makes the degreasing much, much easier!
- The ragu freezes unbelievably well and is one of those dishes that is worth its weight in gold in your freezer. You can defrost it in the microwave or simply pop it into the fridge a day before you plan to serve it. Reheat the ragu in a pot on the stove with a lid. If the ragu seems a little dry, you can add a little water.