"This recipe is dedicated to our Aunt Joanne who passed away recently. A wonderful Italian lady, born in Brooklyn who loved her meat sauce! We will miss you!"
Italian pasta sauces are very easy to make and can be relatively inexpensive depending what you put into it. If you ever take a trip to Little Italy in Soho, New York you will find giant vats of sauces simmering away for hours, which only means one thing old-style deliciousness!
I always try to make a pasta sauce, whether it be made with vegetables or some kind of meat, to have on hand in the freezer for a quick fix down the road on hectic days. All you need to do is reheat the sauce and make a little pasta or rice. Adding pork bones, or extra chops to the sauce as it cooks will always give it extra flavor.
The following recipe uses pork shoulder which is generally a tough and inexpensive cut of meat, therefore needs slow, gentle cooking for it to become tender and delicious. If you purchase a large piece of pork, cutting it into large chunks helps the braising process along. The zucchini in this recipe gives the sauce a nice texture but you can use yellow squash if you prefer.
Please note:- Do not overcook the squash, so that if you freeze it, the zucchini will still have some bite to it when reheated. This is a delicious, rich and spicy sauce if you include the wine. You may regulate the heat by not adding too many red pepper flakes.
3 tbsp. Olive oil + 3 tbsps.
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. dried whole oregano
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
Pork bones from your butcher (optional)
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 large cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup red wine (optional)
1 tbsp. dried Italian parsley
1 tbsp. dried basil
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 - 16 oz. cans tomato sauce (a good one!)
1 cup water
1 medium sized zucchini (courgettes,) halved and sliced
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Combine 3 tbsps. olive oil along with the next 4 ingredients and rub this thoroughly all over the pork loin. Let this marinate for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Over a high heat (on an indoor/outdoor grill) sear the meat on all sides and set aside.
2. Heat the remaining 3 tbsps. olive oil in a 10 inch skillet over a medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for approximately 5 minutes and then add the tomato paste, parsley, basil, black and red peppers and cook until the tomato paste is mixed in. Add the wine if using. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes (without the wine) or 5 minutes if you are using the wine until it has reduced a little. Then, add the tomato sauce and water and combine well.
3. Carefully place the pork (and bones if using) into the sauce and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a soft simmer (low to medium heat,) cover and cook until the pork is tender, about 1 1/2 hours and then remove the pork bones if present. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the zucchini and cook until firm tender.
I used DeCecco Conchiglie rigate pasta No. 50, as these little shells hold the sauce nicely. However, any pasta you have on hand will do. Enjoy!