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Originally published Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 5:00 AM

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Recipe: A hearty pork ragu

This recipe substitutes inexpensive ground pork for the more traditional shredded pork butt or shoulder.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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This hearty pasta recipe turned out so well, it’s sure to be a keeper. Pork ragus are traditionally made with slow-cooked, shredded pork butt or shoulder, but this one substitutes the more economical ground pork. It simmers on your stove for nearly 2 hours, so your kitchen will smell heavenly. Ideal for an informal winter dinner, paired with rustic bread and salad.

Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from “La Cucina Italiana,” October 2010

6 ounces sweet Italian sausage

2 leafy rosemary sprigs

2 leafy sage sprigs

1 celery stalk, cut crosswise into 3 pieces

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove, peeled

½ pound ground pork

14-ounce can tomato purée

1 pound tagliatelle

1. Remove sausage from casing and break into bits. Tie together rosemary, sage and 1 piece celery with kitchen string.

2. In a wide heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, remaining celery, herb bundle and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add sausage and cook 3 more minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to break up clumps into tiny bits. Add pork and cook, breaking up meat into bits, for 3 minutes more, then add tomato purée and 1 ¼ cups water; stir to combine well.

3. Bring sauce to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 ½ hours. Remove and discard celery, herbs and garlic.

4. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and immediately toss with ragu.

Reach Gretchen McKay at

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