Mulefoot Pork Shoulder Ragù, Corzetti Pasta, Fava Beans, and Broccoli Rapini


I like to braise meats. Maybe I’ll do short ribs in the winter and rabbit in the summer, but pork is all year long. The process of braising (cooking at low temperatures for a long time) allows the meat to become fork tender, and you get maximum flavor when the liquid the meat was braised in is reduced until it thickens.

I particularly love making this dish, which I call a ragù. The pork is sweet, fatty, and delicious, the rapini is a little bitter, and the fava beans add nuttiness. Both the rapini and the fava add a degree of crunchy texture that complements the tender ragù.

—Chef Craig

Serves 8, generously, and you will most likely have leftovers for later.

1 8-pound heritage pork shoulder

141022_037For the brine:
1 gallon purified water
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup salt
1 onion, chopped
1 sprig rosemary
2 bay leaves

For the ragù:
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch fresh thyme (remove stems)
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped (Reserve some for garnish.)
2 sprigs rosemary
7 star anise
20 coriander seeds
9 juniper berries
1 gallon chicken stock
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup red wine
1 bunch rapini
1 cup whole fava beans, removed from outer shell (Leave on the inner shell that surrounds each bean.)
Sherry vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Grated Parmesan

To brine the pork:

Put all brine ingredients into a pot that’s large enough to hold the pork shoulder. Bring to a boil until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pull off stove and let cool. When cool, immerse pork shoulder and cover. Put in fridge for 24 hours.

The next day, pour off and discard the brine. Dry off the pork and season with salt and pepper. Sear all sides until golden brown, then remove from pan and set aside.

Place the prepared onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs in the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until caramelized, then deglaze with the red wine. Add the chicken stock and bring everything up to a boil. Add pork shoulder back into the pan, cover with foil, and put into a 325° oven to cook for about 4 hours. When the meat is falling apart, pull the pan out of the oven and remove from liquid, straining it through a sieve or chinois.

Once the meat has cooled enough to work with, it put it on a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Return the meat to the pot and cover with the strained braising liquid. Put onto stove and bring up the heat to a simmer so the liquid can reduce over a period of about 2 hours. (Keep tabs on the pot so the liquid does not reduce too quickly and cause the meat and vegetables to burn.)

While that reduction is happening, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the rapini and immediately place in ice water to stop the cooking. Repeat with the fava beans. Once these are cooled down, peel the shell from each fava bean and cut rapini into 1-inch pieces.

Once the ragù is thickened and the beans and rapini are ready, cook the pasta in salted water, drain, and place the pasta, beans, rapini, and ragù into a large bowl to toss. Add the stick of butter and toss again. Season with salt and pepper and add a little sherry vinegar to balance the flavors. Serve hot, topped with some chopped parsley and a drizzle of some good olive oil (I use a Tuscan oil). Add grated Parmesan if you like.

Corzetti Pasta

I like to serve this pork ragù with corzetti, a stamped pasta made with hand-carved artisanal wooden tools that you could probably find online. But you can cut the pasta any way you like and get a great dish. Making pasta by hand is very satisfying, but if you like, you may substitute 2 pounds of prepared dry pasta for the handmade pasta in this recipe.

200 grams double 00 flour
2 farm-fresh eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

On a clear tabletop, mound the flour, making a well in the center. Put the eggs and olive oil in the well and with a fork begin pulling the flour into the center to incorporate it into the egg and oil. Once it begins to form a ball, work the dough with your hands until smooth. Wrap the dough and let sit for 30 minutes before rolling out.

After the dough has rested, place it on a floured surface and either roll out with a tabletop pasta machine or with a rolling pin. Either way, you want to roll it as thin as possible without it falling apart (about the thickness of a dime). At this point you can cut whatever shapes you like.