Pork, Fresh Tomato and Fennel Seed Ragù (Ragù di Maiale al Pomodoro Fresco e Semi di Finocchio)

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This summertime ragù is more elegant than ragù alla Bolognese and takes less time. It is best over fresh pasta, but as seen in the photo it is great on spaghetti or other store-bought dry pasta, too. As with many Italian recipes, the key is to use only a few ingredients of high quality. In this case ground pork, fresh ripe plum tomatoes, fennel seeds, and white wine (plus olive oil, salt and pepper). You may feel the urge to add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, basil, parsley, mushrooms, chillies, or what have you, but do yourself a favor and try the basic version. It will be less work and the flavor will be more elegant and pure. You will be able to taste the pork, tomatoes, and fennel seed individually as well as in combination. In this dish it is important to use fresh tomatoes, as canned tomatoes would overpower the delicate flavor of the pork.

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

225 grams (.5 lb) ground pork

500 grams (1.1 lb) ripe plum tomatoes

2 tsp fennel seeds

60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

150 grams (.66 lb) spaghetti or 225 grams (.5 lb) fresh pasta

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Instructions

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In a frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil and add 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds. Toast them for a minute over medium heat.

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When the fennel seeds start to color, add 225 grams of ground pork. I used trimmings of a pork belly that I was turning into homemade pancetta that I ground in my meat grinder.

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Cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spatula, until the pink color of the meat has disappeared.

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Deglaze the pan with 60 ml of dry white wine.

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Use a wooden spatula to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan to include them in the sauce. Reduce the heat to low to allow the wine to evaporate.

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In the meantime, put 500 grams of plum tomatoes in the food processor…

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…and process until pureed.

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When most of the wine has evaporated…

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…use a food mill to sieve the pureed tomato pulp directly into the frying pan. The food mill will remove the seeds and pieces of skin from the tomato pulp. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Cook over low heat, stirring now and then, until the sauce is no longer watery.

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Meanwhile, cook the pasta. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, and add it to the ragù together with a generous handful of freshly grated parmigiano. (If the ragù was already quite dry, you may wish to reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and use that to moisten the pasta with ragù.)

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Stir until the pasta has been coated by the ragù.

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Serve at once on preheated plates, sprinkled with some more freshly grated parmigiano.

Wine pairing

This calls for a dry rosé. Unfortunately not much good rosé is produced in Italy, so a rosé from Provence is probably your best bet.

Flashback

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Usually I am a substance over form kind of guy, but this time around I went for the look — without forgetting about flavor of course! The flavors in this lamb, eggplant, and potato mosaic are a classic combination. I decided to cut all ingredients into cubes of roughly equal size, and serve the dish as a mosaic. I don’t like wasting food so the cubes are not as perfect as they would be in a Michelin starred restaurant. This is a nice dish to impress your friends as the ‘wow factor’ is in the presentation and the preparation is otherwise pretty straightforward.

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8 thoughts on “Pork, Fresh Tomato and Fennel Seed Ragù (Ragù di Maiale al Pomodoro Fresco e Semi di Finocchio)

  1. looks delicious! I have never used fennel seeds in my recipies, I only buy them to prepare tisanas (herb tea). I want to try. I also learnt a new word: food mill! Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks! So simple but just a tad different from anything I have cooked before! I do agree with the word ‘elegant’ but may just ‘ruin’ it as far as you are concerned ’cause have some great Asian noodles in hand 🙂 !! Oh, fennel seeds and I have always been great friends!

    Liked by 1 person

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