Spicy Pork Ragu with Oregano and Mascarpone
The Goulds of Portland, Maine's Central Provisions and Tipo serve this sauce with a housemade rye cavatelli, but regular cavatelli or rigatoni will do. According to Chris Gould, the agrumato lemon oil—created by milling lemons and olives together—adds brightness tempered with a bit of fat. “It’s more of a round flavor than a sharp flavor,” he says. The ragu can be made up to a week ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 pounds ground pork
- 1 yellow onion minced
- 1 small carrot minced
- 1 red bell pepper minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon agrumato lemon oil or 1 tablespoon olive oil mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 pound fresh or dried cavatelli or rigatoni
- ⅓ cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves chopped
- ⅓ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a piece of cheesecloth, gather ends, and tie with butcher’s twine to create a sachet. Set aside.
- Coat bottom of a large pot with canola oil. Add pork and brown over high heat, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
- Add onion, carrot, and bell pepper to fat remaining in pot and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Deglaze pot with wine, scraping up any brown bits. Return pork to pot, along with prepared sachet and cover pot. Simmer over low heat for 2 hours, or until sauce is reduced.
- Add soy sauce, lemon agrumato oil, fish sauce, and vinegar. Season with salt.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 2 minutes less than instructed on package. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
- Stir cooked pasta, mascarpone, and ½ cup of pasta cooking water into ragu and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing flavors to meld. (If sauce seems dry, gradually add remaining pasta water to achieve desired consistency.) Garnish with oregano and Pecorino Romano and serve.
Photography by Erin Little