Sometimes I have an idea for a recipe, make it, and everything works the first time like a charm. From there it’s just refining and testing. But then there’s those recipes where I kind of bomb it on the first time around.
This pork ragu was just such a patience testing recipe. I wanted to make this ragu by simply putting the pork roast into the Instant Pot, and come back to a mostly done sauce within an hour or so. Well… I was plainly asking for too much because 1 hour later, my pork roast wasn’t even cooked through yet, much less pull apart tender.
So it was time to mix things up a bit on the second time around. In the first trial run, I was trying to avoid having to cut up the roast thinking it would be more work. But in the end, cutting the roast up into cubes really is the easiest possible way, and so much easier than my first idea.
The next time around went really smoothly, and I knew I was onto something. The Instant Pot is really effective at breaking down tougher cuts of meat, and turning them into meltingly tender bites of deliciousness.
In the end after all the fuss, I ended up with just what I was after – a sauce that tastes like it was simmered for hours. But without all the time, and definitely no fuss. Still I wouldn’t call this a weeknight recipe because the cooking time is still what I would consider too long. But it’s perfect to make on the weekend as part of meal prepping, and can be made as a freezer meal. You can freeze part or all of the sauce, and use it another time, which is a big bonus as well.
The basis of this sauce is what the French call mirepoix in classic cooking. It’s simply a mix of onions, carrots, and celery all diced up. And while you can dice it all up by hand, you can also process them in a food processor to speed things up.
First up you brown the cubed up pork. You can do this in the Instant Pot or on the stove top.
Then the diced onion, carrots, and celery are added in. Finally the tomatoes and seasoning are added in, and the Instant Pot does all the heavy lifting to turn this into a sauce worthy of an Italian Sunday supper!
Since I tested this pork ragu a few times, (read tons and tons of this sauce hanging around, and loads of it in the freezer as well) we ate it over a number of different things. We had it over spaghetti squash, pasta, and then with the cauliflower ‘polenta’ that’s included in the recipe below.
I’m a huge pasta fan, so I fully expected to like this sauce best with the pasta. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that while I liked it over pasta, I loved it over the cauliflower ‘polenta’! And it wasn’t only me, my mom preferred the cauliflower ‘polenta’ as well which was a bit of a shock, since she’s not the hugest cauliflower fan.Print
All the goodness of a slow simmered Italian meat sauce, in a fraction of the time, thanks to the Instant Pot!
Instant Pot Rosemary Pork Ragu: (12 servings)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cubed into 2″ cubes
2 cups diced yellow onions, 1/4″ dice
1 cup diced carrots, 1/4″ dice
1 cup diced celery, 1/4″ dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, leaves only, discard the woody stems
1 Teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste after the cooking time
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 – 28 ounce cans whole fire roasted tomatoes, blended briefly to create a chunky tomato sauce
Cauliflower Polenta: (6-8 servings)
8 cups riced cauliflower, 1 1/2 pounds, see notes
2 Tablespoons ghee, or olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup coconut milk from the can
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 Tablespoon tapioca starch, mixed with 2-3 Tablespoons water to dissolve
Optional Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Brown the cubed pork in the olive oil over medium high heat on the stove top, or using the sauté function on the Instant Pot. If you’re using the Instant Pot, you’ll need to sauté the meat in 3 batches.
Then add to the Instant Pot the onions, carrots, and celery, sauté again just until the vegetable mixture is coated in the olive oil. Finally add the garlic, rosemary, sea salt, pepper, and blended tomatoes.
Secure the lid, set the valve to sealing, and select pressure cook for 1 hour. When the cooking time is done, you can let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally or use the quick release function, (this is what I did while testing). When the pressure is fully released and the Instant Pot is safe to open, stir the sauce to break up the meat, a potato masher works really well for this.
Season to taste with sea salt and more pepper if desired. Serve immediately with your choice of sides, the Cauliflower ‘Polenta’ directions are below.
To make this in the slow cooker, brown the meat on the stove top, then add the veggies, garlic, and rosemary to the pan. Cook stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Then place everything for the pork ragu in a large slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the meat is falling apart tender. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed.
For the Cauliflower ‘Polenta’, sauté the riced cauliflower in the ghee or olive oil until partially translucent. Add the minced garlic, coconut milk, and sea salt. Partly cover the pan and simmer until the cauliflower is very soft. From here you can either thicken it right away with the tapioca starch, or if you’re using frozen riced cauliflower you’ll need to purée it to make it more of a polenta texture. Carefully spoon 3/4 of the cooked cauliflower mixture into a food processor and process until almost smooth.
Place the processed cauliflower mixture back into the pan with the remaining 1/4 of the mixture. Then add the tapioca mixed together with water. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook just until it thickens. Season to taste with sea salt and serve.
If you make your own riced cauliflower, make sure to keep the texture as fine as possible for this recipe. I bought frozen riced cauliflower because it’s both convenient and much more affordable here, and the texture is very granular with larger pieces of cauliflower. To make it more like polenta, I just give it a whir in the food processor after it’s been simmered into softness.