Braised Pork with Pappardelle Pasta
Copyright Christine Cooks 2005 - 2009.  All rights reserved.

Braised Pork with Pappardelle Pasta
Recipe inspired by Della Santina's Trattoria and Jamie Oliver
Serves 6 with leftovers
2-pound boneless pork shoulder, can be tied.
olive oil for the pan
2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary
6-8 long sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 carrots, pared and chopped
2 ribs celery, strings pared off with a vegetable peeler, chopped
6 cloves really good,
fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 - 28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes with juice (such as Muir Glen's Fire-Roasted or Trader Joe's with basil)
14 ounces fresh water
kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper
16 to 20 ounces dried pappardelle pasta

Use a cast iron Dutch oven if you have one. If not, use a stewing pot or some such thing that will easily hold the roast. Be sure to have a tight-fitting lid.
Season the roast all over with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Heat the pan over medium-high then drizzle with olive oil when hot.
Sear the roast on all sides until the meat is crusty brown and those delicious brown bits (fond) are sticking to the bottom of the pan, at least 5 minutes per side. Lower the heat slightly if necessary to keep the meat and fond from burning.
Remove the roast to a plate and tent to keep warm.

Lower the heat under the pan to medium and, beginning with the onions and carrots, saute the vegetables, adding the celery and garlic after 5 minutes, lowering the heat and stirring occasionally to keep it all from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the red wine (I used a 2003 Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres Red Table Wine from Berkeley wine importer Kermit Lynch), the chopped rosemary and the thyme sprigs (you will fish out the naked stems later) and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Allow the liquid to reduce for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, cutting them into chunks with a knife, then add the water to cover most of the roast. If the liquid doesn't cover the meat entirely, don't worry. You will be turning it over several times during the braising period.

Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to very low, and braise the meat for at least 3 hours or until the meat is fall apart tender, turning it occasionally so all parts come in contact with the liquid.
When the meat is done, the sauce can be reduced if you wish.
Remove the meat to a cutting board.
Using a pair of tongs, retrieve the thyme stems which will now be bereft of their little leaves.
Turn the heat up to medium-low under the pan and allow it to simmer, lid off, until the sauce thickens and is reduced by one-fourth to one-third. I did this because my sauce was pretty liquidy, yours may not need this step.

While the sauce is reducing, if necessary, cut the strings from the roast and shred the meat into small and medium pieces. Add the meat back to the sauce. Taste and add kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper if needed. Turn off the heat, set aside in a warm place and start the pasta water.

Cook the pappardelle until it is just over the al dente stage.
Drain in a colander, put it back into the now empty pasta pot and immediately drizzle with a bit of olive oil, tossing to coat. This will prevent the pasta from sticking to itself. Alternatively, you can toss the pasta with a ladle-full of the sauce.
Place servings of pasta on warm plates, ladle on some sauce and meat and serve.