Braised Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

LAST UPDATED: Oct 26, 2020 | PUBLISHED: Sep 23, 2020 | By:

An easy and flavorful one dish pork ragu recipe that takes less than 30 minutes hands on time! Braised with apples, honey and vegetables for a memorable dish you’ll make again and again. 

Pork Ragu is an easy, yet flavorful Italian pork dish. It takes just 30 minutes hands on time and the rest of the magic takes place in the oven or slow cooker.

A round white plate on a marble surface featuring pork ragu pasta, gold fork to the side.

I fell in love with Pork Ragu at Pastaria, a local Italian restaurant by Gerard Craft in St. Louis. This simplified recipe is easy and 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 (try my Braised Beef Ragu) 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 classic is because it can serve a large number of guests.

pork ragu on bed of pappardelle on white plate with gold fork next to cocotte

Why You’ll Love this Pork Ragu Recipe

  • This incredible recipe feeds a crowd, making it great for entertaining. I often serve it on the holidays, or just our little family and savor the leftovers.
  • 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!
  • Perfect for fall and winter
  • Set it and forget it! It’s a little work up front but then the cast iron does all the braising work for you.
A round white plate on a marble surface featuring pork ragu pasta, gold fork to the side.

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.

A bowl of papardelle pasta covered in pork ragu

Pork Ragu Ingredients

Ingredients for a pork ragu recipe spread out across a marble surface
  • 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 its rich flavor.
  • Garlic – Diced garlic cloves or minced garlic, whichever you prefer.
  • Thyme – Fresh thyme adds beautiful notes to this recipe and makes a pretty garnish as well.
  • Tomato Paste 
  • White Wine – A dry white wine works best for ragu. You can use whatever you have on hand including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or white cooking wine.
  • Chicken Stock – The liquid components help to break down the pork as well as adding flavor to the finished dish.
  • Honey – Honey adds a hint of sweetness and pairs well with this dish.
  • Champagne Vinegar – Adds bright flavor. Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar may be substituted in a pinch.
  • Mascarpone – This soft Italian soft cheese makes the ragu so creamy. You can substitute a half cup of heavy cream for mascarpone if needed.
  • Pappardelle – To serve pair with pappardelle noodles, a wide noodle traditionally served with ragu because it can carry the weight of the sauce.

How to Make Pork Ragu in the Oven

  1. Prep – Chop vegetables and slice apple.
  2. Brown Pork – 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. A gray cast iron pot with browned pork inside, for pork ragu A gray cast iron pot with browned pork and vegetables inside, for pork ragu A cast iron pot on a stovetop with pork covered in sliced apples for a pork ragu recipe.
  3. Cook Vegetables and Apple – Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring them until brown. A cast iron pot on a stovetop with pork covered in sliced apples for a pork ragu recipe. A pork shoulder surrounded by cooked apples and veggies in a cast iron pot.
  4. Make Sauce – Add tomato paste. Stir until incorporated. Add wine and cook. Bring to a boil. Add chicken stock, vinegar and honey. Simmer. A pork shoulder surrounded by cooked apples and veggies in a cast iron pot.
  5. Braise – Cover and transfer to the oven for 1 1/2 hours. The dutch oven in the oven
  6. Flip – Flip pork and continue to braise for another 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Press – Remove and press on vegetables to extrude additional flavor.
  8. Shred – Using two forks, shred meat, removing any excess fat (if necessary). Stir.  A pork shoulder surrounded by cooked apples and veggies in a cast iron pot, two forks inside to pull the pork.
  9. Season – Stir in mascarpone and season with salt and pepper. An oval cast iron coquette filled with a pork ragu recipe.

How to Make Pork Ragu in the Crockpot

Follow above instructions (also listed in the recipe card). Once pork is browned, transfer to a slow cooker.

Braise 3 hours or until pork falls apart with a fork.

An oval cast iron coquette filled with a pork ragu recipe.

What to Eat with Pork Ragu

With a dish as rich and flavorful as this, you don’t need much! You already have a well rounded meal.

Serve it with a loaf of crusty Homemade Bread  with a nice olive oil and bread dipping spices. I always pair pasta with a salad (try this amazing Italian Salad).

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 Cabernet.

You can enjoy Pork Ragu 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 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, you can use a little pasta water.

An oval cast iron coquette filled with a pork ragu recipe.

Serving Suggestions

white plate of ragu on bed of pappardelle with gold fork

Tips

  • Brown – Browning the pork shoulder 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.
  • Make in Cast Iron – 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.

To Store

  • Refrigerate – Not feeding a crowd? You can refrigerate pork ragu in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze – 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.
A round white plate on a marble surface featuring pork ragu pasta, gold fork to the side.

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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More Pasta Recipes

A round white plate on a marble surface featuring pork ragu pasta, gold fork to the side.

Pork Ragu

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. 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 16
Calories 450 kcal

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

Substitutions and Ingredient Notes

  • Garlic – Diced garlic cloves or minced garlic, whichever you prefer.
  • White Wine – A dry white wine works best for ragu. You can use whatever you have on hand including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or white cooking wine.
  • Champagne Vinegar – Adds bright flavor. Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar may be substituted in a pinch.
  • Mascarpone – This soft Italian soft cheese makes the ragu so creamy. You can substitute a half cup of heavy cream for mascarpone if needed.
  • Pappardelle – Tagliatelle makes a great substitute if needed.

Tips

  • Make in cast iron, if possible. It transfers from stove top to oven, to table and offers the best flavor. Cooking in cast iron browns the meat beautifully and allows it to braise at a consistent slow simmer. 

Slow Cooker Instructions

  • Follow instructions and rather than placing it in the oven, place in a slow cooker 3 hours or until it falls apart.

To Store

  • Refrigerate – Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days
  • Freeze – Freeze in an airtight container up to a month

Nutrition

Calories:450kcalCarbohydrates:52gProtein:22gFat:15gSaturated Fat:6gCholesterol:103mgSodium:199mgPotassium:555mgFiber:3gSugar:9gVitamin A:1705IUVitamin C:5.6mgCalcium:62mgIron:2.4mg
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
Disclosure

mini loaves of bread gift wrapped