This is one of those perfect fall dishes that takes advantage of the fall vegetables and herbs. Pork simmered in a rich and savory broth served with pappardelle, sage, and thinly sliced butternut squash.
Our fall vegetable garden, much like the season itself, is filled with color. Pumpkins, squashes, and gourds are bursting throughout the garden and I do mean bursting. These vine plants can take over a garden if you are not careful. I give them their own garden away from my stalks, but there is a movement towards three-sister planting.
Three-sister planting is the process of planting corn, beans, and squash together. The Three Sisters, work together to help one another thrive and survive. I tried it once but it really messed with my compulsive organization personality. It felt cluttered and messy and I just could not deal with it. So my pumpkin and squash live together in their own little plot and we all seem to be happy with that.
One of the benefits of having them off by themselves is I do not accidently step on or nick the rind as it ripens and readies for harvest. This will lead to rapid deterioration. This gives us plenty of pumpkins which we use for our Fall Festival that includes pumpkin bowling and painting. Activities loved by all the children. And it gives me plenty of butternut squash. I love cooking with butternut squash.
Benefits of Butternut Squash:
Butternut squash is rich in important vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. It is low in calories, rich in fiber, and can protect against conditions like high blood pressure, cancer, and mental decline. But I love how versatile and easily it is to cook with. It can be added to both sweet and savory dishes and the burst of color is so much fun to work in recipes. For this recipe I fried it in butter with fresh sage leaves and added to my pasta. Those little half-moons add a brightness to the dish and they are absolutely delicious fried. It adds crunch to an otherwise soft dish.
Ragu vs Bolognese:
I wanted to use a Ragu for this dish. I just like how its hearty, rich flavor compliments fall dishes and vegetable like butternut squash. The main difference between Ragu and Bolognese is that Ragu sauce is thicker in texture. It uses a full-body red wine like burgundy or cabernet sauvignon. Ragus are also heavier on meat and minced elements. Whereas Bolognese is more of a red sauce with meat, ragu is meat in a red sauce. I added a whole white onion and garlic cloves to give it a bold and savory full flavor and opted for pork. And believe me, it is bold and delicious!
Pork Ragu with Squash and Sage Pappardelle
- 1 large onion peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 1-2 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup strong red wine
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 can (15 ounces) canned pureed tomatoes
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1/2 cup butter, 1 stick
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- 1 batch (4 servings) homemade pappardelle
- freshly grind black pepper
- Cut the pork into 1” chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch Oven. Add the pork, onions, garlic, and herbs to the pot and fry for 5 – 6 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste. Deglaze the roast in 2–3 steps with red wine. Boil it down completely with each addition. Add the chicken broth and pureed tomatoes. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer slowly over low to medium heat for 2 1⁄2–3 hours.
- In the meantime, wash and core the butternut squash and cut into thick wedges. Use a vegetable slicer or mandolin to thinly slice the wedges together with the skin. Fry them with the butter and sage in a large skillet over a medium heat for about 4–5 minutes. Season with salt.
- Cook the pappardelle in plenty of boiling salted water. Fresh pasta cooks up quickly, usually in 6 minutes, drain. Carefully fold in the squash.
- Finally, season the pork ragu with salt, and pepper. Stir in the rest of the olive oil.
- Plate the pappardelle and top with the pork ragu.