This rigatoni dish is made with a Sunday gravy and pork ribs. It’s an absolutely “old school” and a delicious way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Typically this would cook for 5-6 hours on a low flame as it slowly develops more and more flavor. However, if you are pressed for time you can let it cook for 2-3 hours, but NOT less. Your gravy will not have the same depth of flavor but it will suffice for your hungry family waiting to enjoy a traditional Sunday meal.
In this recipe, the addition of red wine works exceptionally well and adds a delectable depth of flavor to the tomatoes and pork as they cook together. Try using a Chianti, Merlot, or a Sangiovese wine. As the gravy slowly cooks the pork ribs will become so tender, juicy, and flavorful it just might bring a tear to your eyes. They’re irresistibly good! Now that your Sunday gravy is ready you can begin to make the recipe below.
Pork Ragu with Rigatoni
- 4 cans (28 ounces each) of your favorite brand of canned tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
- 8 basil leaves, torn with your hands, (only added at the very end) or,
- 10 sprigs of fresh oregano stripped from the stems.
- 8 pork ribs, preferably meaty ones.
- 2-3 cups, bold Italian red wine, such as a Chianti
- 1 box, of your favorite rigatoni
- Parmesan cheese, grated, use as needed
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use as needed)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse off the pork ribs and pat them dry.
- Season them with salt and pepper.
- Heat the pot you plan to make your sauce in and sear the ribs a few at a time.
- Remove them, lower the heat and add the garlic. Move the garlic around so it doesn’t burn.
- Once the garlic begins to turn a golden brown color add the pork ribs and the wine to the pot.
- Let the wine reduce by half its amount.
- Once the wine is reduced add in the tomatoes. Stir everything well so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
Tip – A typical Sunday Gravy can cook for 5-6 hours over a low flame to develop a rich mouthwatering flavor. The pork ribs would be removed after about 2 hours so the meat doesn’t completely fall off the bone, but are deliciously tender. Once the sauce is complete the pork ribs would be added back to the sauce to warm them up and all is ready to be served.
- If you are pressed for time you can cook your gravy for 2-3 hours. The pork ribs will be tender and you can feed your hungry family. The grave will not have the depth of flavor as in the longer cooking time. But, it will still be delicious.
- Once your gravy is finished cooking you have two choices.
- The first is to taste it to determine if it needs more seasoning.
Tip – If you like a stronger garlic taste you can always saute some off and then add the garlic, olive oil, and all to the gravy. Stir it through and taste again for seasoning
- Secondly, after seasoning, you need to decide if you want to blend your Sunday Gravy. If I use whole or crushed tomatoes I will blend them. If you used already pureed tomatoes you can skip this step.
- After blending your gravy add it all back to the pot. Now is when you can add the basil or oregano and stir it into the sauce.
- Add the pork ribs back to the sauce and slowly heat the gravy.
Tip – It is best to add the herbs toward the end. This way the flavor will be fresh. If you add the herbs during the long cooking process that will break down and their flavor will change and become bitter.
Making the Dish
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling adds some salt and quickly give the water a taste. It should taste lightly salted.
- Now, add in your rigatoni and stir the in the water to prevent sticking.
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. However, remove them about two minutes before the suggested cooking time.
- You will finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. It absorbs much more flavor this way.
- Reserve about a half cup of the pasta water before straining them.
- Take the pork bones out of the sauce and add them to a serving bowl. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese over them and some chopped basil or oregano.
- In a pot large enough to hold the rigatoni add a few ladles of gravy. Toss in the pasta add 3-4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, the reserved pasta water, and mix through.
- Keep the flame on medium and add more gravy if needed to the pasta is getting coated. Do this for about two minutes as you carefully stir the pasta so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Just before serving add a few drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the pot. Mix it through and serve.
Tip – After coating the pasta in the sauce let it sit on your stove for 3-5 minutes. The pasta will continue to absorb flavor and the sauce will cool a bit and taste better.
- Add the rigatoni to a large bowl that is big enough to hold the pasta.
- Ladle more sauce on top, a few sprinkles of Parmesan, and serve.
- In a separate dish add the pork ribs top with some more sauce and serve.
- Carefully add the pasta to a single portion serving dish.
- Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese and a few leaves of oregano or torn basil.
- Place one juicy pork rib on the side of the bowl and serve.
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