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Pork Ragout and Soft Polenta

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Serves 4

  • by Tasha DeSerio from Fine Cooking
    Issue 97

If you made the Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder over the weekend, this hearty and satisfying ragout is the perfect way to enjoy it again. The soft polenta makes this recipe comfort on a plate—the perfect meal for a chilly winter night. 

  • 2 cups whole milk; more as needed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup yellow stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for sprinkling
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into small dice
  • 2 medium ribs celery, cut into small dice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 canned tomatoes, drained and cut into medium dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups leftover shredded Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder 
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine the milk with 2 cups water in a medium heavy-duty saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (watch carefully to prevent a boilover). Add 1-1/2 tsp. salt and whisk in the cornmeal in a fine stream. Continue to whisk until the polenta begins to thicken, 1 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat so that the polenta slowly bubbles and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until tender and no longer gritty, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the cornmeal. If the polenta becomes too thick in the process, add milk, a little at a time, to maintain a soft consistency. When the polenta is done, stir in the Parmigiano and 1/2 Tbs. of the butter and season to taste with salt. Keep warm until serving. (The polenta will thicken as it sits. If necessary, add a splash of milk to thin it just before serving.)

Heat the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until tender and starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the pork and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the broth has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and then spoon the ragout on the top and to one side, with the broth pooling around the polenta. (Make sure each portion gets a fair share of broth.) Sprinkle each portion with parsley and Parmigiano and serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

Start the meal with Frisée and Grape Salad with Verjus and Blue Cheese.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 550; Fat (g): 27; Fat Calories (kcal): 240; Saturated Fat (g): 10; Protein (g): 35; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12; Carbohydrates (g): 44; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): 1090; Cholesterol (mg): 95; Fiber (g): 5;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I added a handful of sliced, pitted oil-cured olives and some chopped spinach toward the end of cooking, as well as using only about 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth. I also threw in some of the cooked garlic and carrots from the original recipe - the whole thing was delicious and devoured by my entire family (including my 10 and 13 yr. old kids, tho they did manage to avoid the spinach...)

I must've done something wrong even tho' I followed the recipe. Only thing I did different was to add a little tomato paste to hold it together. It was just okay, at best. Won't make it again.

This ragout was delicious! I make the pulled pork recipe now just to make this dish - hearty and satisfying.

I loved this ragout. It was easy to make and really hit the spot on a cold night. Great way to use up the left over pork. I think that the polenta was too creamy for my taste - I would make it with chicken broth or maybe skim milk with butter.

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