Pork(ish) Ragù: Part I

Early last fall, I was in Las Vegas with my husband, Brandon, and his family.  One night, we went to Circo, a restaurant at the Bellagio (and sister of Le Cirque), and I ordered the rabbit ragù over gnocchi.  It was incredible.  The ragù was rich and flavorful, and the gnocchi was light and tender.  It was perfectly autumnal (despite the 90-degree weather outside), and for the last year, I have yearned to recreate the dish.

In search for a similar recipe, over the summer, I stumbled upon William-Sonoma’s recipe for pork ragù.  I figured pork would be easier to get my hands on than rabbit, and I also have a lot more experience using pork (any experience is more than no experience).  However, I knew I had to wait for the perfect, fall weather to actually make it.

Well, that perfect weather arrived a week ago.

The night before I planned to make the ragù, Brandon and I ran to Whole Foods for all of the ingredients.  We were able to get our hands on everything, except for the pork shoulder.  They were out.  No big deal, we have a butcher right next door to our apartment, so the next morning, I ran over to grab the pork.  They were out.  They had rabbit in stock, but no pork shoulder . . . figures.  My last resort was Eataly, Mario Batali’s new Italian grocery (which deserves and will receive its own blog post), where I was certain I could find the pork shoulder.  I approached the counter.  I scanned the selection.  I asked the butcher.  “We’re just out,” he replied.  “It was really popular this weekend.  We’ve sold a lot of it.”  At this point, I was pretty annoyed.

The butcher then followed up with me.  “What do you need it for?  Could you use something else?”  I explained my plan for the pork to the butcher, and he quickly responded, “How about the wild boar shoulder?  It is what I use for my ragù.  It has a much richer flavor.”  Well . . . why not?

I raced home with my bag of wild boar, and I got right into the kitchen.  The recipe was to be cooked in the slow cooker, and in order for dinner to be ready at a reasonable time, I needed to get it into the slow cooker as soon as possible.  First, I prepared my mis-en-place—making sure all of the vegetables were chopped, spices set out, etc. Then, the recipe stated that I was to brown the pork (boar) and sauté the vegetables.  To do this, it instructed me to heat the insert to my slow cooker over medium heat.

Well, placing the slow cooker’s insert on the stovetop seemed strange to me, but I followed the directions.  I drizzled in a little olive oil and waited a minute or two for the insert to heat up.  I needed it to be hot enough to brown the boar.

Suddenly, I heard a loud crack.

Brandon turned around from his work and asked, “What was that?”  It took me a second to realize that the insert to the slow cooker cracked and a large chunk of the bottom completely broke away from the rest of the insert.  You have got to be kidding . . . First I cannot find pork shoulder, and now the insert to the slow cooker breaks?

Maybe this dish was not meant to be.  Could it possibly be worth the trouble?

To be continued . . .




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