This thick and rich sauce of slow-stewed veg, soft ground pork, tomato paste, and Bordeaux wine will make you wish autumn lasted all year. Whether you ladle generous spoonfuls over pasta or polenta or couscous or swipe hunks of warm, crusty bread through it--it all works, and sublimely at that.
Now, I won't lie and convince you this is a fast recipe- it's not. And I don't think any fifteen-minute ragu recipe would be worth its weight, simply because the entire point of ragu is richly developed flavor--bottom line, that doesn't happen in a blink. But don't let the knowledge that this sauce takes a little time deter you; anyhow, the extent of your energy will occasionally be spent moving a spoon around in the pan--that's not hard. Pour a glass of wine, open the window for the fall breeze, and enjoy the time in the kitchen. (Your reward is worth it.)
Bordeaux wine (France) is generally a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
BORDEAUX PORK RAGU
Ingredients: 2 tbsp. olive oil, two medium carrots, one small onion, 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups tomato juice, 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, one lb. ground pork, 1 tsp. ground oregano, four broken (smashed) peeled garlic cloves, 6 ounces tomato paste, 3/4 cup Bordeaux wine, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and pepper.
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet pan over medium heat until glossy. Peel carrots and chop them into small pieces along with the onion. Add both to the skillet and season with pinches of both salt and pepper. Cook until the onion starts to look translucent, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir 1/4 cup tomato juice and 1/4 water into the skillet. Cover and cook until absorbed, about 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato juice and water every 5 minutes or so and covering to cook (and absorb) until onions are brown and caramelized and the carrot is very soft. This should take anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Remove the mixture to a plate.
3. Cook the pork in the same skillet pan over medium heat, adding pinches of salt and pepper to taste. Once cooked, add back the carrot and onion mixture along with the oregano, tomato paste, broken garlic cloves, sugar, salt, wine, and water. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to low.
4. Cook the ragu sauce, occasionally stirring, for another 15-25 minutes or until thickened and dark. Taste for seasoning. Serve with pasta or starch of your choice.
I specified 1/2 tsp. of sugar and sea salt to be added to the sauce with the tomato paste, which may not seem like enough, but keep in mind you seasoned both the carrots and the meat at the start of their cooking. That said, taste the sauce before you serve it. If you want it saltier, salt to your taste. If it's too acidic, add more sugar or a pinch of baking soda.
Feel free to use a wine you love, one you'd drink. I think rich, fruity, and dry red wines taste the best here.