Learning that ragu (or bolognese), doesn’t *have* to be beef based was: mind blown (as the youth say). Leftover pork belly makes for a fab pasta sauce because the long strands of meat are soft against pasta or polenta. If you have regular leftover pork, then just chop it up small and follow the recipe.
Not tried polenta? It’s basically cheesy mash. You can get quick polenta, and cook per the pack instructions. Then stir in a shed load of cheese and butter. In the north of Italy, where one of my besties lives, there’s a lot of ragu served with polenta, which, when it’s cold (and it gets cold in Turin), is just the best comfort food in the world. I heart it.
If you like olives then a handful of black olives in this sauce would be lovely. Don’t like mushrooms? Leave them out! Make this work for you.
Yes this takes ages to simmer, but if you have the time (or a slow cooker) the cooking time is spent chopping, not actively stirring. Still time, yes, but your time is money and you earnt the money to buy the food in the first place. And let’s not even start thinking about emissions used to get that meat to you! So don’t let’s waste more.
Like every slow-cooked food, this freezes really well. If you have a load of meat and your week looks like you won’t be around to eat it before it goes off, then make this, freeze it, and you’ve saved some expensive meat and made sure there’s never a leftover, leftover.
Leftover roast pork ragu
Lard/bog standard cooking oil (do NOT use extra virgin, it’s a waste)
1 onion or 1 leek, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 medium carrot (apx. 200g), diced
1 stalk of celery (apx. 200g), diced
200-400g shredded cold pork belly
50ml red wine (optional)
x1 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes
Spaghetti or polenta, to serve
Cheese, to serve
Couple of bowls
Garlic crusher (if you like using them)
20 minutes prep
30 minutes active cooking
30m – 2 hours simmering
Pull the meat into shreds
Chop onion in half. Peel the skin off and cut into dice. Put in a bowl
Finely chop garlic
Dice carrots and celery
Pour tomatoes into a bowl and crush them with your hands so there’s no huge lumps
Place the pan on the hob and put the heat to medium
Add your cooking fat; if using lard, wait for it to melt
Once warm, add the diced onion. You want it to brown, so leave it to cook gently, for about 10 minutes if possible
When the onions are cooked through (i.e., they are a bit see-through), add the garlic and stir around for a minute. Don’t wander off: burnt garlic is foul and you’ll need to start all over again if you do burn it
Add the carrot and celery to the pan. Season. Put the lid on and leave for about another 10 minutes, to get nice and soft. Put the timer on!
After the 10 minutes are up, the veg should be shimmering, and a little soft when you poke a few pieces with a sharp knife. If not, maybe turn the heat up a little and leave for another minute, but don’t leave the pan unattended
When you’re happy that the veg is soft enough, turn up the heat to its maximum
When the pan is nice and hot, add the shredded meat
Once the meat has a good colour, pour in the milk. Keep stirring, gently, until the meat and veg have absorbed the milk
Repeat with the wine, if using
Pour in the crushed tomatoes. Add the bay leaf
As soon as the mixture is boiling, turn the heat right down
Add the mushrooms; you might need to add them in a couple of batches, so be patient
The sauce needs to be gently simmering: a bubble every 15 seconds or so
Leave it to simmer for between 1 and 2 hours, depending on how much time you have
When you’re nearly ready to eat, cook your pasta/polenta as per packet instructions
Grate cheese, serve with your pasta or polenta
Cold, covered , in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freeer for a couple of months
Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch: