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Pork Ragu over Creamy Polenta

This is one of my favorite leftover meals, and I do not particularly enjoy leftovers. It cooks low and slow on the stove for three hours but is just as good two days later as it is the day I make it. I start with a three-pound pork shoulder and cut it into pieces before simmering in tomatoes and red wine. These rich ingredients and slow cooking turn our braising liquid into the most delicious and savory sauce. I serve this over creamy polenta and use leftover sauce on pasta. Sunday cooking at its best!


3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 3 big pieces

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

Kosher salt, ground pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup full-bodied red wine

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

4 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

2 cups chicken stock

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup polenta

8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Season pork with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook pork, turning often until evenly browned, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a platter while you create the braising liquid.

Add onion and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown and caramelize, 12–15 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened in color, 5–8 minutes.

Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, 5–8 minutes.

Add tomatoes, crushing with a pastry cutter, then add thyme, and bay leaves; stir in chicken stock. Add pork with any juices accumulated on the platter; season with salt and pepper.

Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until pork is falling-apart tender, and sauce is thickened (it will be thicker than a typical pasta sauce), and flavors have melded, 3-3 1/2 hours.

Using 2 forks, break up pork into pieces or shred it (your choice!); taste and season with salt and pepper.

Do ahead: Pork can be cooked 5 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill in the sauce. I prefer this because the fat will harden on top making it super easy to scrape off before reheating on the stove again.

Bring 3 cups chicken stock to a boil in a large pot. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta. Continue to stir for two minutes, then take off heat, cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Loosen mixture by adding cream cheese and milk a little at a time. Stir until incorporated and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon polenta into bowls or onto a platter and top with pork. Scatter parsley and Parmesan over the top.

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