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Food The Bite:

Paccheri with Pork Shoulder Ragu and Creamy Goat Cheese

Al di la was one of the first Brooklyn restaurants I fell in love with; Victor and I were regulars long before Jivan was born. My all-time favorite al di la dish is actually a special: paccheri with braised pork ragu. Once Jivan started joining us for dinners out, he, too, became obsessed with this meaty sauce, and I became obsessed with trying to re-create it for him at home. After at least twenty-five failed attempts, I finally decided to just ask Chef Anna Klinger for the recipe. The result was everything I’d been craving—rich and meaty, with notes of sage and fennel. I’ve changed up the ingredients and method very slightly here, but this recipe is heavily inspired by Anna’s—and I can’t thank her enough.

Paccheri with Pork Shoulder Ragu and Creamy Goat Cheese

Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful


  • 4 pounds (1.8 kg) boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine
  • 5 cups (1.2 L) low-sodium chicken stock (enough to just cover the meat)
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces/55 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • 1 (28-ounce/785-g) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound (455 g) dried paccheri or rigatoni
  • 4 ounces (115 g) goat cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup (50 g) coarsely grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped Freshly cracked pepper, for serving


Preheat the oven to 325oF (165 ̊C).

Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, sear half the pork until well browned on all sides, about 12 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a large plate, then repeat with the remaining meat. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Tie the rosemary and sage into a bundle with kitchen twine, then add it to the pot along with the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits of pork stuck to the bottom of the pot. Simmer over medium-low heat until the wine has reduced by half. Return the pork to the pot, pour in the stock, and bring it to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven. Cook for 11⁄2 to 2 hours, or until the pork is very tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a platter. Skim the fat off the top of the braising liquid and return the pot to the stove. Bring the braising liquid to a boil and boil vigorously for approximately 30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup (240 ml). Meanwhile, shred the pork with a fork.

Transfer the reduced braising liquid to a small bowl. Return the pot to the stove and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Add the milk, tomatoes, tomato paste, pork, and reserved braising liquid. Simmer, uncovered, until the flavors meld and the ragu thickens slightly, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Taste for seasoning.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Add the paccheri and cook according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta.

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese and 1⁄3 cup (75 ml) warm water, stirring vigorously until it takes on a smooth, creamy consistency, similar to sour cream.

To serve, divide the pasta among bowls and pile each serving with the ragu. Top with some grated cheese, chopped parsley, and a dollop of goat cheese, and season with freshly cracked pepper.

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