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Pork Sugo

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

This richly flavored sauce is comfort food, Italian-style. Don’t rush when browning the ribs; you’ll be amply rewarded.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta

2 pounds country-style pork ribs

1/2 cup diced carrot

2 medium onions, diced

1/2 cup diced celery

Salt and pepper

2 cups dry red wine

2 bay leaves

4 thyme sprigs

1 rosemary sprig

2 large garlic cloves, cut in half

2 cups canned tomatoes, crushed by hand and drained


1/2 cups chicken or pork stock


1/2 pounds pasta of your choice

Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a pot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all ribs in a single layer (or almost a single layer), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add guanciale or pancetta and begin to render its fat. When meat just starts to brown, remove it, leaving fat in pot.

Begin browning ribs. It is very important to do this in batches, never crowding pan. Let meat sear and develop a good brown crust before turning it over (moving meat too much will hinder browning process).

Keep an eye on bottom of pan. You want to develop a rich, brown layer of caramelized meat juices; however, don’t let them get too dark or they will be bitter and ruin the dish. (If you think pan is getting too dark — if it’s black, it’s burned — take ribs out and deglaze pan with some wine. Save the wine and brown bits from pan, wipe pan out, add a touch more olive oil and finish searing ribs.)

Once all ribs are browned, add carrot, onion and celery to pot with a small pinch of salt, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of the pan. When vegetables are just beginning to color, add wine and reduce by a little over half. Add bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, garlic, tomatoes and chicken stock.

Put reserved guanciale/pancetta and ribs back in pot and slip the whole thing in oven for about 2 hours, or until meat is very tender.

Remove bay leaves, thyme and rosemary and pull ribs out of pot. Remove and discard bones. Gently pull meat apart into small pieces with your fingers or two forks and set aside.

If sauce seems very fatty, allow it to rest for a few minutes, then spoon off some of fat before proceeding.

Using a food mill or a mesh strainer and a wooden spoon, push all the sauce and vegetables through mill or strainer. This will add body to the sauce and deepen its flavor. Add meat back to the sauce and keep warm.

Cook pasta as directed on package and toss with sauce. Grate cheese at table and serve.

Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

(Ran Feb. 10)

Nutrition facts per serving: 789 calories, 46 g fat, 16 g saturated fat, 130 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrates, 35 g protein, 403 mg sodium, 4 g fiber

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