Raise your hand if you’d rather cook than party-go on New Year’s Eve.
It's not just me: Surely there was a few of you out there who share my stay-in sentiment, who echoed a “That’s me!” in response.
And for those that did, I give you, via Genius Recipes, Andy Ward & Jenny Rosenstrach’s Pork Shoulder Ragu. It’s a simple recipe that takes a while in the oven, which makes it ideal for saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t go out. My ragu has three hours left to cook and I absolutely cannot leave its side.” If people do not understand, invite them over to remark on its incredible tenderness.
Before you spend the night in, head to the grocery store to get your ragu ingredients. Here’s the list, organized by area of the grocery store:
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast, tied with twine if there any loose pieces
One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 cup red wine
We’re assuming you already of 1 small onion (chopped), 1 garlic clove (minced), salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small pat butter, and 1 tablespoon hot sauce. If not, add these to your list, too!
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Like five hours before dinner (or whenever—there are no obligations to have dinner at any specific time tonight), preheat the oven to 325° F. Season your pork roast with a heck ton of liberally with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and butter to a large Dutch oven (or something that’s ovenproof and can accommodate your roast) and heat on the stove over medium-high until the butter melts. Add the pork roast and brown all sides. This is important: Browning means flavor!
Add the onion and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce and bring the whole thing to a boil. Now put a cover on it and stick it in the oven.
Braise the pork roast for 3 to 4 hours, turning every hour or so and adding more liquid (water, wine, or tomato sauce) if needed so that it stays about 1/3 of the way up the pork. In the meantime, put on some cozy slippers, pour yourself some of that red wine, and watch a movie or something. The pork is done when it’s practically falling apart. When it is, put it on a cutting board (remove the herb sprigs—you don’t want to gnaw on those) and pull it apart with two forks. Add the pork back to the pot and stir.
About 15 minutes before dinner, cook 1 to 2 pounds of pasta according to the package directions. If you’re flying solo this evening, you’ll have a lot of leftovers. This is okay—great, even. When the pasta’s done, toss the pasta with the ragu and a bit of the pasta’s cooking water, if you need it to loosen things up, and top with the Parmesan. It’s okay to feel bad for the people who went out and are ragu-less.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).