After seeing this recipe, I was inspired to try something similar.
I loved the idea of using fennel in a ragu (both fresh fennel bulb and fennel seeds), but I didn’t want to mess around with the pork spareribs. Instead, I bought a pork shoulder and borrowed a few ideas from the recipe to make something on my own.
Here is what I came up with, a ragu of pork shoulder. The shredded pork is very tasty with a wonderful texture, and the fresh fennel and fennel seed add an interesting and delicious flavor. It is even better the next day.
Ragu of Pork Shoulder
-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and pepper
-2 lb. pork shoulder
-2 carrots, diced
-2 stalks of celery, diced
-1 small fennel bulb, diced
-1 small yellow onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 t. fennel seeds
-1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
-2 T. tomato paste
-1 c. dry red wine
-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
-1 11.5 oz can V-8 vegetable juice
-1 t. Italian seasoning
-8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
-A few leaves of fresh basil, torn
-1 lb. short, tubular pasta
-Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle Salt and pepper on the pork shoulder and add to the Dutch oven. Sear on all sides until nicely browned. Transfer the pork to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, fennel bulb, and onion. Sauté the vegetables until slightly softened (perhaps 10 minutes), stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits in the pan. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper and allow to cook for a minute until fragrant.
Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the crushed tomatoes, V-8, Italian seasoning, and return the pork to the Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Add the sliced mushrooms and give it a good stir to incorporate the ingredients.
After 2 hours, the pork should be very tender. Carefully remove the pork to a large cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Skim the surface of the sauce to remove excess fat. When cool enough to handle, shred the pork meat with a fork, discarding any remaining fat. Return the meat to the Dutch oven and allow to heat through. Add the fresh basil at the last minute before serving.
Serve over your favorite short, tubular pasta; penne, mostaccioli, ziti, or as I used here, whole wheat gobbetti. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over this, too!