Andy Ward & Jenny Rosenstrach's Pork Shoulder Ragu

December 15, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: On their blog Dinner: A Love Story, Andy Ward & Jenny Rosenstrach call this "Instant Dinner Party," because you can make the ragu completely ahead, even a day or two before. Whether you serve it that day or reheat it for a party tomorrow, "It will make the house smell amazing," Jenny told me, "Which, in my opinion, counts for more than flower arrangements when having dinner guests. Best of all, if there are kids coming over, and they don't like the ragu, we can usually count on them liking the pasta with a little Parm—so it minimizes drama on that end, too." Whatever ragu is left is a boon: over polenta, in tacos, on sandwiches, or frozen and awaiting more dinners. Recipe adapted slightly from Dinner: A Love Story (Ecco, 2012). Genius Recipes

Food52 Review: This recipe is featured in the story, 14 Cozy, Tomatoey Braises to Warm Your Stove Now Through March, sponsored by Muir Glen.The Editors

Serves: 6
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 4 hrs 19 min


  • 2 pounds to 2 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast (up to 2 1/2 pounds), tied with twine if there are any loose pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small pat butter
  • 1 28-ounce can Muir Glen whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 Small handful of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, for smokiness (Andy used Trader Joe's Hot Chili Sauce, but Sriracha and Tabasco both work great, too)
  • 1 pound Pappardelle
  • 1 handful Freshly grated Parmesan
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Liberally salt and pepper the pork roast. Add olive oil and butter to large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high until butter melts, but does not burn. Add pork roast to pan and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes in all.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven.
  3. Braise for 3 to 4 hours, turning every hour or so. Add more liquid (water, wine, or tomato sauce) if needed. (The liquid should come to about 1/3 of the way up the pork.) Meat is done when it’s practically falling apart. Put on a cutting board (remove the sprigs of herbs at the same time) and pull it apart with two forks, then add back to pot and stir.
  4. Cook 1 to 2 pounds pasta according to package directions. When it’s is ready, put into individual bowls and top with ragu and lots of Parm. Alternately, toss the pasta with the ragu and a bit of pasta cooking water, as needed, and top with Parm.

More Great Recipes:
Pasta|Italian|Fennel|Oregano|Pork|Thyme|Serves a Crowd|One-Pot Wonders|Valentine's Day|Father's Day|Mother's Day|Fall

Reviews (120) Questions (1)

120 Reviews

Lisa December 17, 2018
Wow, as delicious as it looks! We followed the advice of a few others and added a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (didn’t have whole tomatoes on hand), and added almost an another cup of wine. We had plenty of sauce to our taste :)
PanTostado December 15, 2018
Soooooo good! We make this all the time. Just for us and for company as well.
Lizzie L. December 15, 2018
I am making this tomorrow and wondered if anyone has tried using fresh fennel in place of the seeds. Thanks!
JP December 15, 2018
The addition of a fennel bulb should be delicious, but very subtle. The seeds will impart a much more aromatic flavor which I think is an integral component of this very delicious ragu, and not overpowering at all.
Joe December 15, 2018
SEEDS!<br />It’s perfect as written.
Marti December 15, 2018
I've made this several times and it is perfect with the fennel seeds. A fennel bulb would not be the same depth of flavor. I make this during the holidays and my family loves it. The house smells amazing while it is cooking and it can easily be made the day ahead, then reheated. You are in for a treat!
Yvette August 6, 2018
I first came across this recipe via Dinner A Love Story - where Jenny Rosenstrach also shares a recipe where you tuck the left over pork ragu into puff pastry to make delicious pork ragu pies. A gem of a recipe.
Kate H. April 15, 2018
When I first made this, the store didn’t have pork shoulder so I used boneless ribs. It turned out fantastic, so when I made it again, I was disappointed with how much excess fat there was in the pot. It was so much I couldn’t eat it as it was. I went back to using boneless pork ribs and will continue to do so—I much prefer how this cut of meat turns out.
FrugalCat September 18, 2018
I buy those boneless ribs all the time- they are cheap, easy to handle and good for small recipes. I have looked at that ragu recipe for YEARS but never made it as I was intimidated by a huge pork shoulder. Now I will try it with the ribs!
Änneken April 1, 2018
The flavor was great but I agree with previous was a bit watery and there was virtually no sauce. I'd make it again but increase the quantity of tomatoes.
jacci F. January 7, 2018
Just made this tonight -followed the instructions exactly, had 2.5# pork shoulder roast and cooked in my Le Cruset dutch oven with the lid on the entire time, used San Marzano tomatoes. I found that, while the flavor was excellent - there was not much "sauce", more like shredded pork on pappardelle. I think next time I will at least do 2x the sauce. With just two of us, there will be at least 1/3 frozen so the extra sauce is a necessity.
tosacem January 2, 2018
Turned out delish! Wasn't watery, I did put the cover slightly off pot in last hour. The only thing I would change would be to put fennel in cheese cloth as I didn't like chewing on the fennel seeds and I have some friends that can't eat seeds. I used the country style ribs and I don't think any difference than a roast.
njsusan January 1, 2018
Outrageously good!! Sauce was not one bit watery. Tomatoes melted ... it was divine. Didn't have fennel, tossed in a couple bay leaves, otherwise made to a T and wouldn't change a thing!
tosacem January 1, 2018
Found a can of fire roasted tomatoes in the bowls of the cabinet! Will be using those and add crushed if need more liquid. Also the butcher did not have a small pork shoulder so I purchased country style ribs (which are cut from the shoulder) tied them together and it is in the oven now. I will report back. Thanks Kathy H
tosacem January 1, 2018
I accidentally bought crushed tomatoes in juice instead of whole tomatoes. Do you think I can use them?
Kathy H. January 1, 2018
Marti December 16, 2017
I am making this for the third year for Christmas Eve dinner--my family asks for it and loves it! Thank you for such a lovely and easy recipe that is absolutely delicious every time. Will make it two days ahead, so simple!
Katrina September 16, 2017
I don't have a Dutch oven. Will it work in a crockpot?
beezus September 16, 2017
Katrina - Yes. Brown the meat, onion and garlic, deglaze pan with the wine, put everything in the crock pot. My crock pot tends to cook on the hot side, so cook I it on low for about 6 hours.
imn July 21, 2017
any advice on how to do it sous vide?
JP July 21, 2017
There is no need to try to make this dish sous vide, and no advantage either.
imn July 21, 2017
Thanks JP - I actually won't have time for the 3-4 hour oven cooking so was hoping to have it timed with the sous vide so I don't have to monitor it.
JP July 21, 2017
Hi imn. This dish needs the slow oven braise to carmelize, develop complex flavors, and concentrate the liquid. It is pretty hands off once in the oven. You would need to sous vide for a much longer time and will never achieve the same result.
CarlaCooks October 27, 2018
To save time, you could make this in a pressure cooker. Probably 45 min-1 hour under high pressure. To get the should to fit inside the pressure cooker, I'd cut it into really thick steaks.
Rita June 30, 2017
Making this yet again for company that will be here for next weekend. Will freeze. It smells so good! An effortless dinner next week, a great bottle of wine, maybe a simple antipasto first- a no fail plan.
Greg M. March 1, 2017
Made it Saturday night to serve Sunday. It was delicious! I tweaked a couple of things. First, after I browned the shoulder I removed it from the dutch oven and then added the onions and garlic. After the saute I deglazed with the wine, then put the rest of the ingredients in, mixed them together, then put the shoulder back in the dutch oven. Also I used a larger can (35oz) of tomatoes plus I included about 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste. I left it in the oven for three hours, turning the shoulder ever hour. At the beginning of the third hour I left the lid slightly open to reduce the sauce as some of the comments remarked it was watery. When I reheated the ragu the next day I needed to add water to it because it had thickened so much. But it was fantastic and I would definitely make it again!
Peony February 25, 2017
Made it again recently and it was as delicious as ever. I add lots of extra tomatoes. Freezes beautifully. A favorite in our house and with guests.
Vivian February 12, 2017
Delicious! We tweaked based on the contents of our pantry: 2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes + couple T tomato paste instead of canned whole tomatoes, used dried oregano, added a leftover parmesan rind, left uncovered in the oven because it seemed too liquidy, and added a couple sprinkles of sherry vinegar at the end. It did end up looking just like the picture though.=P The wine we used was a carmenere.
Austin B. January 9, 2017
Mine looked exactly like the photo. Simply divine.
Beth L. December 31, 2016
This was delicious! We followed the recipe pretty closely, and although the sauce wasn't quite as "red" as the photo, it was excellent, so we decided against adding extra tomatoes/sauce.