Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù

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Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù
Pork and Mushroom Shiitake Ragù is the most comforting dish for Fall and Winter to warm your heart and soul!

A ragù over pasta is one of the greatest cool-weather dishes you could possibly have! Sure, that’s just an opinion, but it’s a correct one! We’ve made many different versions of ragù and this Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù is one we really enjoy especially during the slow transition into fall, but honestly, we eat it year-around.

What is Ragù?

So, what’s a ragù? It’s nothing to get wrapped around the axel about, although you will undoubtably find people who do! From our perspective, the traditional Italian “rules” about a ragù are that it is meat-based, meat-dominated sauce for pasta, and has limited use of tomatoes. But ragù sauces throughout Italy will change based on region, village, and even down to each family and household. A variety of meats can be used along with a variety of cooking liquids, vegetables and herbs. If tomatoes are dominating, it’s a tomato sauce, not a ragù, so if you are looking for a tomato-based sauce, check out our marinara sauce instead. Other than that, every other qualifier is too rule-based for us, and we love shaking up the rules a bit!

Although we primarily make meat-dominated ragù, we have made a mushroom version without any meat and loved the result. Generally speaking when we make a ragù it’s going to be a slow-cooked meat-based sauce usually with wine as the cooking liquid.

Ragù vs Bolognese

Another common question is the difference between a ragù and a Bolognese. Short answer: Bolognese is a specific type of ragù originating from Bologna. Bolognese generally is made with ground or minched beef and pork and white wine along with a touch of cream and a small amount of tomato paste.

Often in the US, we see the term “Bolognese” used with versions of a sauce that are heavier on tomatoes, but this is not quite accurate according to the traditional sauce coming out of Bologna. Angela visited Bologna in 2019, and they are pretty serious when it comes to their traditions, and especially their pasta! Again, we like to be a bit more progressive when it comes to food, but considering Bolognese refers to something native to Bologna, we feel that the Bolognese tradition should be left alone, so you won’t necessarily see any majorly altered versions of sauce called “Bolognese” on our blog. Anyway… back to the main point here, ragù!

Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù
Shiitake mushrooms complement the rich flavors in this dish to add a little something special!

Our Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù

A ragù with the addition of Shiitake mushrooms may seem a bit different, but the earthiness and complimentary flavor profile of shiitake mushrooms brings this dish to a different place. By no means are the mushrooms a dominant flavor, and many would find it difficult to single out mushrooms as an ingredient, but the enhancement can only be appreciated if you try it without them. We saved you the effort here, use some shiitake mushrooms for the upgraded taste.

Does the size of the pork cuts matter?

We chose to cut the pork into about ½” cubes or chunks for this version but you certainly can do whatever you wish here. Many ragù dishes use ground proteins (more-so in Northern Italy) and others rather large cuts. We prefer bite-sized but still in-tact pieces of meat in the final dish. This is because we prefer the mouthfeel of the larger pieces, but it won’t take away from the overall taste if you choose to change that.

If you want your meat to completely fall apart and blend into the sauce, then use smaller chunks or minced pieces of meat. If you want a bit more texture with chunks of meat that are ultra-tender and juicy when you bite into them, follow our instructions for larger cuts. We encourage you always to try different ways of making it to determine what you like best in this dish.

Garnish

We use basil to garnish at the end to brighten up the final plated dish, but there are quite a few Fall herbs in the sauce, so use what you want at the end and what is available or in season. Basil isn’t an autumn/winter herb, but it does work well and is usually available in stores. Thyme, parsley or even a tiny bit of oregano or rosemary would also work here. Again, experiment to determine which herbs you prefer at the end to complement the flavors of the sauce.

Pork Ragù with Shiitake Mushrooms
Serves this Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù over your favorite pasta!

Which pasta is best for the Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù?

There are many people out there who will say a specific pasta shapes should or should not go with a certain sauce. Here’s our take…

Pasta is delicious in all forms. From egg yolk pasta to eggless pasta, it is ALWAYS GOOD. But, the purpose of the shape is to get mouthfeel that changes the experience you have as you eat. So, you want to choose a shape that will be best with the type of sauce you choose to put on it. Pasta shapes with ridges, folds, or hollows will hold more of the sauce with each bite.

We chose to use an eggless pasta dough with a combination of Tipo 00 flour and semolina and hand roll garganelli. Our multipurpose pasta dough can work well here, too. The ridges on the outside catch the sauce and the sauce travels trough the hollows. But a flat noodle, like tagliatelle or fettuccine, or other shaped pasta like cavatelli will not disappoint. Again, you do you and experiment with different shapes of pasta for different mouth feels and experiences.

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Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù
Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù

Enjoy!

We hope you enjoy our version of Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù. If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Looking for more pasta recipes? Check out some of our popular pasta recipes below:

Pork and Shiitake Mushroom Ragù

0 from 0 votes
Course: Dinner, MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

2

hours 
Total time

2

hours 

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (850 g) pork butt or shoulder – deboned and fat trimmed

  • 1 Tbsp (18g) kosher salt

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • 2 Tbsp (27g) vegetable oil

  • 2 Tbsp (28g) tomato paste

  • 2 large stalks (100g) celery, chopped

  • 2 medium (125g) carrots, chopped

  • 1 small-medium (170g) onion, chopped

  • 6 oz (171g) chopped (small) shiitake mushrooms

  • 2 Tbsp (20g) minced garlic

  • 1.5 cups (330g) dry red wine

  • 1 cup (240g) beef stock

  • 1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tsp (2g) fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 2 tsp (2g) fresh parsley, chopped

  • 2 tsp (2g) fresh thyme, chopped

  • 2 tsp (2g) fresh oregano, chopped

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 tsp whole fennel seeds – lightly toasted in a dry pan for 1 min

  • 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream

  • Garnish
  • grated parmesan cheese

  • crushed red pepper flakes

  • fresh basil leaves

  • Pasta
  • 1 recipe Multipurpose Pasta Dough shaped into garganelli, penne or rigatoni (or 1 lb dry penne or rigatoni pasta)

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F
  • First, cut the pork into bite-sized cubes (approx 1/2 inch) and place in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to the pork and combine.
  • Add the oil to a large frying pan on high heat and sear the pork in batches to achieve some browning. You are not trying to cook the pork here, so no need to cook it for longer than it takes to get some color on all sides of each cube. This will take about 3 minutes per batch. Set the browned pork aside.
  • In the same pan that you used to brown the pork, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the tomato paste. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds, then add the celery, carrots, onions, and mushrooms and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until onions are translucent and begin to get some color. Add the garlic for 15 seconds and stir. Then add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
  • Next, add the pork back to the pan and cook on medium for 5 minutes. Add the beef stock, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and fennel seeds. Stir to combine and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat, scrape the bottom well and stir, then cover and place in the preheated oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. At the hour mark, remove the pot and stir and test the meat for tenderness. Do so every 20 minutes or so thereafter until the meat is very tender but not disintegrating. If the liquid evaporates completely at any point, add more beef stock or water.
  • If using fresh pasta, make your pasta dough and shape into garganelli, penne or rigatoni while the ragù cooks. Set the completed pasta aside on a large baking sheet until the ragù is done.
  • When your ragù is almost ready, bring a large pot of well-salted water (about 2 Tbsp, or 36g, per 6-8 quarts of water) to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and allow to cook for approximately 2-4 minutes (fresh pasta) or follow the package instructions for al dente. Take one piece out and test it for doneness. When done, they should be al dente, meaning they will have a bite, but should not taste like raw flour.
  • Remove to a colander to drain briefly then add to a serving bowl.
  • Once the pasta is done, remove the pot from the oven and add the cream to the ragù, stir and cover for just a few minutes. Add additional salt to taste as desired.
  • Serve the ragù over the pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh basil.

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