A Ragu (or ragout) is a sauce where meat has been braised for a couple of hours along with fresh vegetables and is generally served over pasta. This sauce has no boundaries when it comes to the liquid. You could use any kind of broth or stock, tomatoes (as used here,) water, wine or even cream along with any kind of protein you wish
There are many types of Ragu recipes which hail from different countries. The most common, in my opinion being widely served, is an Italian Bolognese sauce. The great thing about making a Ragu is that you can utilize very inexpensive cuts of meat, as in my Savory Pork Ragu Sauce with Mushrooms.
Tradition has it, which is always optional, is that the meat can be removed from the sauce and served separately or, in this case I chose to break up the meat after cooking and serve it over al dente cooked pasta.
Whichever way you choose to serve a Ragu sauce is totally up to you. That's the joy of being a home cook, you can make up your own rules. My Pork Ragu has tons of flavor, as the juices from the pork and mushrooms come together to make a wonderful, yummy sauce that freezes really well!
Here are the fundamentals for making a delicious Ragu sauce, whatever you decide to put into it. This recipe works well for the slow cooker too. Follow Step 1 in the method below and add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 8-10 hours. Enjoy!
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 - 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes + 1 28 oz. can water
1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder steaks
2 cups Italian parsley (flat-leaf) chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions start to turn transparent (opaque.) Next, add the mushrooms, Italian seasoning, dried basil and red pepper flakes. Stir, combining well and cook for another 10 minutes until the mushrooms have cooked down a little.
2. Raise the heat to medium high and add the crushed tomatoes and can of water. Bring to a soft boil, stirring occasionally. Add the whole pork steaks and stir in gently. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until the pork starts to fall apart. You can tell when the meat is tender as you will easily be able to break it up with a wooden spoon.
3. If you wish to serve the savory meat on the side, then remove with a large slotted spoon or a spider. A spider is the round, wooden handled utensil that is used a lot in Asian cooking. It looks like a spider web. Otherwise, remove the meat from the sauce into a large bowl and shred or break it up into smaller pieces with two dinner forks and return it to the sauce. Serve tossed with pasta that has been cooked al dente according to package directions.