Cooking this recipe in my humble little Coburg kitchen I could easily have been in the Appenine foothills in central Italy, with the warm Italian sun cascading through a rickety wooden door onto a flour-dusted flagstone floor. Chickens clucking in the courtyard, bottles of passata gathering cobwebs in the vast cellar alongside hanging home-cured Prosciutto and jars of olives from the grove of trees at the edge of the property.
This melting pork recipe conjures up daydreams of a rustic provincial Italy with its classic flavours of toasty ground fennel and a rich tomato sauce. Served on top of creamy polenta, this is real hearty peasant food, both filling and delicious, making it the perfect leftovers dish.
Serve it in a big bowl and set in on the table for the family to dig in and help themselves. Serve with polenta, pasta, or keep it rustic with a simple loaf of bread and plenty of olive oil and cheese.
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For the pork
1 kilo pork shoulder
1/2 cup white wine
4 sage leaves
1 litre chicken stock
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper
For the tomato sauce
1 tsp fennel seeds – toasted and ground
1/2 cup milk
1 tin chopped/crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
4 sprigs thyme
olive oil for frying
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Cut the pork into large chunks and season well with salt and pepper. In a large heavy based frying pan heat a good glug of canola oil over a medium-high heat and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside while you deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add in the sage leaves and reduce to a glaze before adding the browned pork chunks back into the pan. Stir in the hot chicken stock and cover the pan tightly with foil.
*If you don’t have a big enough oven safe frying pan, just transfer the pork, the glaze and the chicken stock to a large roasting tin instead.
Carefully place the pan in the oven for 3 hours or until the pork breaks apart with a fork. Reserve 175g of the slow cooked pork and place in the fridge to use for quesadillas. Coarsely chop the rest of the pork and set aside. Transfer the cooking liquid to a smaller saucepan and reduce on the hob until you have just under 1 cup of liquid left – this will later be added into the tomato sauce.
To make the tomato sauce, first finely chop the onion and carrot. Fry together in olive oil over a medium heat until soft and translucent. Next, stir in the chopped pork meat and mix well. Add the milk and cook down for 5 minutes.
Finally, add in the tin of tomatoes, the tomato puree, thyme and reduced braising juices and simmer over a low heat for half an hour.
Experiment with your favourite herbs – sage, rosemary, and thyme all go perfectly with pork
Polenta, pasta, bread.