Gigli Pasta with Spicy Pork and Fennel Ragu – Hope Rhône Blend

This hearty ragu is comforting on a cold night. The flavors go well with our Hope Rhône Blend.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 thin slices pancetta, finely diced
1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 sweet Italian pork sausages – remove casings and crumble
Pinch of sugar
1 large onion, finely diced
1 fennel bulb, cored and finely diced. Reserve and chop the fronds.
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon of fennel seeds
½ teaspoon salt
2 small dried red chilies, broken in half
1 cup Aver Family Vineyards Hope Rhône Blend
35 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
Handful of chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pound Gigli-shaped pasta (or rigatoni)
Grated aged pecorino cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch over medium heat. Add the meats and a pinch of sugar which aids in browning the meat. Brown the meat for about 10 minutes. Add the onion, fennel, fennel fronds, garlic, bay leaves, fennel seeds, chilies and salt. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Watch to make sure the mixture does not burn. Add the wine, bring to boil and deglaze bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes plus their liquid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.

Cook for about two hours until the meat is tender and the sauce is thickened. If necessary, skim off any excess fat that has accumulated on the surface. Add the basil and balsamic vinegar.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and place in a heated bowl. Top with the ragu and serve with grated Romano cheese.

Recipe adapted from The Flavors of Southern Italy by Erica DeMane.

Mary Mansson