Braised Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

LAST UPDATED: Dec 17, 2019 | PUBLISHED: Dec 18, 2018 | By: Julie Blanner

An easy and flavorful ragu recipe that takes less than 30 minutes hands on time! This Pork Ragu is braised with apples, honey and vegetables for a memorable dish you’ll make again and again. 

pork ragu in a dutch oven ready to serve

This ragu recipe takes 30 minutes hands on time and the rest of the magic takes place in the oven.

The Pork Ragu at Pastaria, a local Italian restaurant by Gerard Craft is one of my favorite dinners. I simplified their recipe to make it easier and more accessible – perfect for a Sunday supper, family dinner or just a dinner to warm you up on a cold winter day and save the rest for later!

Ragu is a large quantity of beef or pork braised with vegetables for several hours until flavorful and tender. It can be served alone or on a bed of pasta. One of the many reasons it’s an Italian favorite is because it can serve a large number of guests.

While this ragu recipe is a little more time intensive than most of my recipes, don’t be intimidated, it’s so easy and if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy the process. It’s therapeutic. Just wait until your home fills with the most wonderful aroma!

Pork Ragu Ingredients

This recipe is unique, which is one of the many reasons I love it.

In addition to boneless pork shoulder, it has a granny smith apple and honey which adds a hint of sweet flavor to the sauce. The pork simmers with chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic.

Tomato paste, white wine, chicken broth, and champagne vinegar make the sauce with mascarpone to round it out. Thyme, salt and pepper season it to perfection.

  • Vegetables – Carrots, celery and onion. This dish is the perfect way to sneak veggies in!
  • Granny Smith Apples – Apples work so well with pork, and add a natural sweetness to this ragu.
  • Pork Shoulder – Pork shoulder is a tough cut of meat so requires a long and slow cook. It has a coating of fat which adds to it’s rich flavor.
  • Garlic, Thyme and Tomato Paste – These ingredients add intense flavors to the finished ragu.
  • White Wine, Chicken Stock, Honey and Champagne Vinegar – The liquid components help to break down the pork as well as adding flavor to the finished dish.
  • Mascarpone – An Italian soft cheese that makes the ragu creamy.
  • Pappardelle – To serve. Pappardelle is a wide noodle and traditional to serve with a ragu.

pork ragu garnished with fresh thyme sprigs

How to Make Pork Ragu

  1. Chop vegetables and slice apple.
  2. Heat olive oil on medium high. Add pork, salting on both sides (use a salt grinder set to the largest flakes) and add it to the cocotte turning to brown all sides. Turn to brown the last side and immediately toss all apple, finely chopped vegetables, garlic and thyme around the pork as it continues to brown. The meat in the dutch oven with chopped vegetables and apple
  3. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring them until brown.
  4. Add tomato paste. Stir until incorporated.
  5. Add wine and cook. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add chicken stock, vinegar and honey. Simmer.
  7. Cover and transfer to the oven for 1.5 hours. The dutch oven in the oven
  8. Flip pork and continue to braise for another 1.5 hours.
  9. Remove and press on vegetables to extrude additional flavor.
  10. Using two forks, shred meat, removing any excess fat (if necessary). Stir. 
  11. Stir in mascarpone and season with salt and pepper.

The ragu after braising in a dutch oven

What to Serve with this Ragu Recipe

Now you may be asking what you should serve with this ragu recipe, especially if you’re using it to entertain. With a dish as rich as this, you don’t need much! I always pair pasta with a salad and another serving of vegetables is right there in the sauce.

To start, I love serving a loaf of take and bake bread or easy Homemade Bread  with a nice olive oil and bread dipping spices.

A hearty meat sauce like this pairs well with red wine. Truly any dry red works from a lighter Pinot Noir to a robust (red) Zinfandel or Cab.

You can enjoy this alone but it’s incredible on a bed of pasta. Larger noodles work best with a thick, robust sauce like this pork ragu recipe. I recommend tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, or mafaldine.

You can use egg noodles and learn how to make homemade pasta here, purchase from a local Italian restaurant (many offer fresh yet to be cooked noodles upon request), in the refrigerated section of your grocery store or of course, boxed noodles.

Boil the noodles in salted water (salty like the sea) until al dente.

Should you want to thin the sauce (I don’t), you can use a little pasta water.

Close up of sprigs of thyme on the finished dish

Top Tips To Make Pork Ragu

  • Browning the pork shoulder before before braising it caramelizes the natural sugars and helps to lock in the flavor. Brown the pork on each side until it is a deep brown.
  • You can substitute white wine vinegar if you don’t have champagne vinegar
  • You can substitute a half cup of heavy cream for mascarpone.
  • If at all possible, ragu is best made in cast iron. It goes from stove top, to oven to table seamlessly and offers the best flavor. Cooking in cast iron browns the meat beautifully and allows it to braise at a consistent slow simmer. I use my large oval cocotte. It’s such a versatile piece and gets frequent use.
  • If you’re up for the extra dish and you prefer, you can make any ragu recipe in a slow cooker as well. Follow the instructions and rather than placing it in the oven, place in a slow cooker until it falls apart.

To Store

  • Not feeding a crowd? You can refrigerate pork ragu in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in a freezer for up to a month, reheat and toss with pasta.
  • If you are making the ragu ahead of time, once it has cooked, let it cool completely to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container.

Pork ragu stirred into pasta in a dutch oven

More Pasta Recipes

If you try this pork ragu recipe, please come back to share using my 5 star rating in the comments below! Not only do I appreciate it, but I know readers do, too! 

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ragu recipe

Pork Ragu

An easy and flavorful ragu recipe that takes less than 30 minutes hands on time! This Pork Ragu is braised with apples, honey and vegetables for a memorable dish you'll make again and again. 
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings (hover to scale): 16
Calories: 450kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 celery rib chopped
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 granny smith apples cored and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3.5 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 6 ounce tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 8 ounce mascarpone
  • 2 pound pappardelle
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Heat olive oil on medium high. Add pork, salting on both sides, add it to cocotte turning to brown all sides. 
    Turn to brown the last side and immediately toss all apple, finely chopped vegetables, garlic and thyme around the pork as it continues to brown.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring them until brown.
  • Add tomato paste. Stir until incorporated.
  • Add wine, bring to a boil.
  • Add chicken stock, vinegar and honey. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Cover and transfer to the oven for 1.5 hours. Turn pork and braise for another 1.5 hours.
  • Remove from oven and press on vegetables to extrude additional flavor.
  • Using two forks, shred meat, removing any excess fat (if necessary). Stir to combine with sauce.
  • Stir in mascarpone and season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh grated parmesan.

Notes

You can substitute white wine vinegar if you don't have champagne vinegar
  • You can substitute a half cup of heavy cream for mascarpone.
  • If at all possible, ragu is best made in cast iron. It goes from stove top, to oven to table seamlessly and offers the best flavor.
  • You can make  in a slow cooker as well. Follow the instructions and rather than placing it in the oven, place in a slow cooker until it falls apart.
  • If you are making the ragu ahead of time, once it has cooked, let it cool completely to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container.

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 555mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1705IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2.4mg
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