Pork and tomato ragù

In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, break apart with a large spoon 

1 pound (16 oz.) ground pork.

Let the mince saute for four or five minutes, then add

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

1 small onion, small dice

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced 

6 to 8 oz. mushrooms, medium dice

1/2 tsp. salt.

Stir to combine, then saute until the onions and mushrooms have sweated and begun to turn golden.

Pour in 

1/3 cup Madeira wine

and scrape up the browned bits stuck to the pan. When the wine has reduced by half, add

1 large can (28. oz) tomato puree or crushed tomatoes

2 tsp. to 1 tbsp. dried oregano (depending on its potency)

1 tsp. salt.

Stir to combine, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. When the sauce is the proper consistency to coat pasta, turn off the heat and stir in

(1 tbsp. olive oil or butter)

2 to 4 tsp. chopped fresh herbs (thyme, basil, tarragon, or parsley).

Taste and do a final seasoning, then serve atop your favorite pasta (maybe farfalle or campanelle) with a liberal dusting of grated parmesan.

Pork and tomato ragù

Tasty thoughts

This is inspired by my beloved Jennifer Paterson, who made savory baked pinwheel crackers flavored with anchovies spread, mustard, and parmesan on an episode of Two Fat Ladies. David Lebovitz said on his chicken liver pate recipe post that he enjoys a pate and cream cheese sandwich, so I thought I’d use her method and his flavor combination.

Make a smooth puree of chicken liver and mushrooms sauteed in butter; caramelized shallot (or onion) braised with some Marsala wine (balsamic vinegar or Madeira would be nice substitutes); some crumbled thyme; a few pinches of warm spices (e.g., allspice and ginger); and a good spoonful of salt. Cool to room temperature or chill. You want this to be a spreadable paste. 

Prepare, chill/rest, and roll out a cream cheese and fine herbs (e.g., chive/parsley/tarragon) pastry dough, forming a rough rectangle. 

Spread the liver puree thinly over the dough rectangle, leaving a half inch margin. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, lift and roll over the side nearest you to start forming a jellyroll or log shape. It doesn’t have to look perfect; the shape will improve as the roll forms. Continue rolling and nudging the dough until you have a relatively symmetric finished log, oriented with its seam facing down. Wrap with plastic film and chill for 30 minutes. 

Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry, cut the chilled dough log into thin slices (think cracker), then transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F until golden, 7-10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. Serve as a starter with drinks and wine.

Tasty thoughts