Recipe By: Laura Lorenz
Serves: 6-8

3lb pork shoulder (trimmed of fat and cut into a few large chunks)
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
½ lb sweet or mild Italian sausage (casing removed)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
5 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1.5 cups dry red wine*
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
1.5 tsp dried thyme
1.5 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp red pepper flake
Pinch of baking soda
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh parsley and basil for serving
Bread, pasta, or polenta for serving (see note)*
Parmesan, or ricotta for serving (see note)*

Set pork out at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking. While the pork is coming to temperature, grind the oregano, rosemary, and thyme (I do this in a mortar and pestle, this is an optional step, I just feel the finer the herbs the easier they meld into the sauce).

In a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over high heat. Lightly salt all sides of the pork with Kosher salt. Once the oil is hot, place pork in the pan and sear on all sides for about 5-6 minutes* (work in batches, do not overcrowd the pan). Set aside on a plate when the pork is nicely browned on all sides.

Next, turn down the heat to medium-low and add the carrots, celery, and onion (if more oil is needed add a drizzle of olive oil or vegetable oil). Cook the vegetables for 5-7 minutes or until they are starting to soften, stirring frequently. Once the vegetables are soft, add the garlic, dried herbs, and tomato paste. Stirring frequently, cook the mixture for 1 minute; then add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to release all those yummy bits.

After the wine is in, add the cans of tomatoes, the bay leaves, and the seared pork. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Next, break apart the sausage into small dollops (small meatball size) and drop them right into the pot. Cover and simmer for 1.5 hours. After the first 1.5 hours, stir well, making sure the meat is flipped over. Cover again and simmer for another 1.5 hours.

After 3 hours of cooking time, the meat should be very tender, if not simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Once cooked, remove the meat and shred it with a fork. Taste the sauce at this time and add salt and pepper to taste (now would be when you add the optional baking soda, see note)*; stir the sauce and add the meat back in. Turn the heat off and serve.*

*Any dry, medium/full-bodied, red wine will work, but I do prefer a Bordeaux blend (Cabernet/Merlot) or a Cabernet Franc. This dish pairs beautifully with Montepulciano.
*For serving-any pasta will work great as long as it can stand up to the hearty sauce. Pappardelle or Gnocchi are great options. Creamy, parmesan and polenta would be a fun twist for serving too. I love to top mine with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs like basil and parsley. A few dollops of ricotta will also take this dish to the next level. And of course, you must have some fresh baked, crusty, Italian bread on the
side and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.
*When searing the pork, a great indicator of when the meat is ready to flip is when it easily releases from the bottom of the pan. If the meat needs more searing time, it will stick to the bottom of the pan.
*Baking soda is the secret to balancing acid in a tomato-based sauce. I learned this from a lovely Italian lady. If pairing this pasta with wine this step isn’t crucial because the acid in the wine and the acid in the sauce will balance each other out, but if you want to smooth the acid out from the tomatoes just stir in that pinch of baking soda at the end.
*When serving I like to fully coat my noodles in the sauce and then top the pasta with even more sauce. This just ensures that you get both the pasta and the delicious sauce in every bite!
*This dish gets even better as it sits. This means you can make this the day before and just heat the sauce back up in a pan while you are boiling the pasta for serving.