This assertive main course works really well when prepared in a slow cooker, provided that the meat is browned first in hot fat. The inspiration is a Neapolitan-style ragu. The pork shoulder can be cooked as an entire piece or cut up into pieces of about 2 inches as for a stew. The Spanish riff comes in with the potatoes, which finish up almost like patatas bravas. You could serve the finished sauce separately over pasta, if you'd like. —pierino
1 1/2 pounds
boneless pork shoulder
large russet potato, cubed
chopped sweet onion
cloves garlic, minced
ounces tomato purée*
salt pork cut into small dice (or substitute thick pancetta)
red pepper flakes
1 to 2
jarred roasted red peppers ("piquillo" in Spain) (optional)
In a large skillet heat the lard or oil to just short of smoking. Brown the meat on all sides, either whole or in chunks—your choice.** Transfer the meat to your slow cooker or braising pot.
In the same pan you used for browning your pork, quickly sauté the garlic and onion. Add that mix to the pot followed by pepper flakes, roasted peppers if using, and bay leaves. Followed by assault and battery to your preference. (That would be salt and pepper.)
Add the tomato purée, potatoes, and stock to your pot. For a good braise, the liquid should not quite cover the meat. In a slow cooker, set to low; this should now take about 5 hours. On the stovetop it should cook to completion in around 2 hours, but you will need to keep your eye on it.
*I like to use Italian-style tomato purée, which is usually looser than the American style. My go-to bottled brand is Carmelina, which weighs in at 680 grams.
**Served "ragu" style, the sauce could be used by itself over a pasta with the meat reserved as a course by itself.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.