All right stop. Collaborate and listen… (yes, that just happened). Paleo Cupboard and I have made a lovechild for all of you — and, if we’re being honest, for ourselves too. Paleo Cupboard has developed a Paleo Pasta that is absolutely incredible! I’m Italian and have made a fair share of homemade pastas in my pre-Paleo days, and no joke, I am impressed with what she has come up with! Being the awesome person that she is, she invited me to make a sauce for her beloved pasta. So go big or go home right?
I’m honored to present to you Pork Sugo Tagliatelle…
3 pound boneless pork loin
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 fresh rosemary sprig, leaves minced (about a teaspoon)
2 cups organic chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup ghee
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
just a touch of fresh ground nutmeg (see picture below)
Garnish with either reserved fennel fronds or flat-leaf parsley.
Grab the fennel. Slice off the fronds, cut the fennel in half and slice the fennel bulb across the grain. Shoot for between an eighth and a quarter inch. Crush the garlic, mince the rosemary and set all of this aside.
Next, mix up the rub. It’s just the basics to give the pork some flavor, except for the nutmeg. That’s the thing that makes you go hmmmm, but it can easily become the thing that makes you go BLECH if you go too heavy, so be careful. This is how much I used:
Grab your pork loin and slice into 2-3 inch steaks. Cover both sides with the rub and set aside.
I want to mention a product that I’ve recently come across – Paleo Fuel & Fire: Paleo Butter! We don’t all have the time to make our own ghee (in addition to everything else we’re cooking from scratch!), so if you’re in the market for some good stuff that you can order, check these guys out. It comes from grass-fed cows with no funky stuff mixed in. I used their ghee to sear the pork for my braise and was impressed! Super clean and handled the high temps perfectly.
For braising the pork, it’s a good idea to break out your dutch oven AKA the most awesomest thing to cook meat with… next to a grill… but I digress. Heat the dutch oven to medium-high. Add 1/4 cup of Paleo Butter (ghee) and keep an eye on it. When it melts, place two of the seasoned pork loin steaks in the pan and sear on both sides. Repeat with the second set of steaks then drop the heat to low (no need to add extra ghee though).
To set up the braise, load all the pork into the dutch oven, top with the sliced fennel, crushed garlic cloves, minced rosemary and dried thyme. I like to mound it rather than mixing it up. In the land of Ciarra’s Culinary Imagination, I picture that the fennel and garlic on top steams and creates an aromatic element as opposed to just boiling away, squished by the pork. Finish the pot off with two cups of organic chicken stock. Cover and let simmer for about an hour. At 45 minutes, uncover and test to see how meat is doing. The pork is done when it falls away with a gentle press from the back of a fork. This should happen somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour.
While that’s cooking, make Paleo Cupboard’s Paleo Pasta… Isn’t it beauuuutiful?
So the trick to bringing any meal together is always timing, right? The same is true here. The pork sugo needs to be done and resting before the pasta is ready to drop into the boiling water. Cook time on the pasta is fast — 3 minutes or less — so be ready with the sauce. Thankfully, once the pork is done, you can just remove the pot from the heat and set aside until your pasta is ready for saucing. Here’s how you do that…
Because we’re talking about a fairly high volume of sauce and noodles, it’s a good idea to work in batches. I found that for a full batch of pasta, I only needed half of my Pork Sugo. (Read: This means you just cooked enough for two meals. Awesome, right? Leftovers rule.)
Using a large sauté pan, heat to medium-high temperature. Place one pork loin steak in the pan and ladle in about a cup of broth, garlic and fennel from the dutch oven. While the broth simmers, shred the pork into large chunks and let simmer. Meanwhile, drop half of the batch of fresh pasta into the boiling water. By the time the broth has reduced a little bit, the pasta will be ready to transfer out of the boiling water and into the Pork Sugo. It will finish cooking there.
A spider tool works best for collecting and transferring the pasta from boiling pot of water to simmering skillet of sugo. Make that transfer happen, then gently fold and toss to incorporate sauce and pasta. This should simmer for just a few more minutes, then it’s ready to serve.
Repeat for the second round to get the rest of that delicious fresh pasta cooked and sauced. Add to the batch already waiting in the serving dish, combine the two batches together and garnish with either some reserved fennel fronds or some chopped flat-leaf parsley.