Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Delfina's Pork Sugo Recipe

One restaurant dish that always leaves me in awe is pork sugo, especially when it's preceded with the words "five-hour" or "four-hour" or "any-long-ass-time hour." The idea that someone slaved over the pot for hours in the kitchen makes it worth ordering to try. And the dish of rich pork, sauce, and pasta never fails.

When I saw that 7x7 Magazine published the pork sugo recipe from the popular and award-winning Delfina Restaurant in San Francisco, I told myself I had to make it for myself. Not only does it take a few hours to cook, it's actually a two-day cooking experience.

So here's the full recipe from the 7X7 website, but I'll walk you through it here when I made it recently in my kitchen.

I started with both pork spareribs and pork butt. I guess Delfina likes the idea of the flavor of both cuts. I browned the pieces in my heavy-bottom pot. When they were done, I removed them and set them aside.

Then I worked on the vegeables, sauteing the onions, carrot, celery, garlic, and herbs (fresh rosemary and sage). So far, the ingredients weren't anything "secret" or unusual. Sounded like just the very comforting vegetable base. After the vegetables softened, then I added a tablespoon of tomato paste (I cut the overall recipe by half, so don't try to match my ingredient measurements to the official Delfina recipe), which gave the overall pot a nice red color, giving it the start of that Italian flavor. I deglazed with white wine and then returned the pork back to the pot and covered it up with chicken stock. Then I placed it in the 325-degree oven and cooked it for about two hours until the pork meat became tender.

Then the recipe said to put the pot into the refrigerator overnight. So that was day one.

The next night, this was how the pork mixture looked in my pot after sitting in the frig overnight. The congealed fat had an orange hue to it. Of course, this made it easy to scrape up the fat and discard. Then I warmed up the sugo on low heat and then removed the pork pieces again.

The recipe said to then put the sugo mixture into a food mill to puree it. But I don't have a food mill so I used my hand blender to puree the mixture until it was a smooth sauce. Then I let it simmered until the sauce thickened.

For the meat, I used a fork and shredded them into pieces and removed the bones from the spareribs. Then I returned the pork back into the sugo and seasoned everything with salt and pepper. Now I was ready to serve it, and the Delfina recipe tells you how to cook just enough sugo you plan to eat that night, leaving the rest for later nights (or freeze in the freezer).

I had some pappardelle, which is the flat ribbon pasta. Sorry, I didn't make it myself (come on, I already spent two days cooking the pork) and if you're looking for pappardelle and can't find it, just buy sheets of ready-made pasta and cut them in wide pieces. While the pasta cooked, I warmed up the sugo in a saute pan with some butter, and then added chopped flat leaf parsley, shredded parmesan cheese, and a pinch of chile flake. When the pasta was ready, I just added it straight into the pan and blended everything together.

And here's the final dish ready to eat. I served it up with more freshly shaved parmesan cheese, and had it with a glass of Napa Valley merlot, which was perfect for this rich dish.

So how was it? I can't say it was as perfect as at Delfina, but it was good. I think it needed more salt but I was afraid to add too much salt during the seasoning because already restaurant recipes has all the butter, etc. So I held back, but the next night when I made the rest of the sugo, I added a bit more salt and that brought out the flavor of the pork. And like anything else slow-cooked, the sugo seemed to taste even better two days after sitting in the refrigerator.

Despite this being a two-day cooking process, the actual steps of the dish aren't very difficult. This is a really comforting dish, and making it makes me feel like some Italian grandmother. I'm definitely bookmarking the recipe and will be cooking it up again when I feel like a dish that will stick to my ribs.


Carolyn Jung said...

I've made the A16 pork sugo a few times. So far, it's my fave recipe. But I have not tried the Delina one. Can you say which one you like best? ;)

Row said...

Wow, I've never heard of this dish before... it looks very comforting and delicious! Thanks for teaching me something new today! :)

Single Guy Ben said...

Carolyn, haven't tried A16's sugo so can't compare.

Row, you're welcome! :)

egg to the apples said...

I think I'm gonna try this, it looks great.

foodhoe said...

oh yeah that really looks fantastic! I'm a big fan of slow cooked and braised meats, cuz while they do take a long time, it is usually unattended cooking time. lol I can just picture you with a grey haired bun and floral apron!

Hungry Dog said...

This looks amazing. I am definitely going to make this (even though I am resistant to recipes that take 2 days). It would be great for entertaining.

Mrs. L said...

This sounds awesome even if it did take two days. And I have some pappardelle in the cupboard that I've been trying to figure out what to do with! Perfect!

Leanne Haney said...

I just made this, and next time I will try it with red wine and 1/2 as much carrot (I didnt like the color-it wasnt brown enough), I amy also add a little milk. I have seen that in other sugo recipes.