Life’s a Feast: Simple pork ragu


This rich ragu is so simple. You can throw it on before work (or play), and come home to a steaming hot, melt-in-your-mouth Italian classic. I have served this on a creamy bed of polenta to mop up the utterly moreish sauce, but you could just as easily use potatoes, pasta, or quinoa (to name a few). I was inspired to create a dish using polenta after a recent meal at The Sherwood. Its menu is hugely creative and nurturing, using locally-sourced, in-season produce. Enjoy!



Pork rub
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted gently
1.5kg pork shoulder (or Boston butt, from
Neat Meat)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely-chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely-chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
300ml chicken stock
400g can whole peeled tomatoes
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves

Creamy polenta 
1 cup polenta (not quick-cooking)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (about 600ml)
2 cups milk (about 500ml)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
Freshly-ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Olive oil (for drizzling)


1. Combine ingredients for the rub in a pestle and mortar and grind until smooth. Rub evenly over pork.

2. Heat oil in a large pan until medium-hot and brown the pork on each side for 2-3 min until golden brown. Place pork in slow cooker (or sealed pot for oven).

3. Add a dash more oil if needed and cook onions and garlic until softened. Put in red wine to lift yummy flavours from pan then tip into slow cooker or oven dish.

4. Tip in stock, paste, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and place lid on. If using oven, cook at 140 degrees for 3-4 hours. For slow cooker, cook for 4 hours on high or 7-8hrs on low.

5. Remove pork from pot. If the sauce is too runny, pour into pot and bring to simmer, reducing it until you get desired thickness. Don’t season until it has reduced.

6. Use two forks to shred pork or break into pieces and pop back into the sauce.

7. To make the polenta, bring the stock and milk to a near simmer in heavy, large saucepan. Gradually whisk in polenta. Whisk constantly until mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring often (the grains should have gone and polenta thickened). Stir in butter and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Dish up by spooning a generous helping of polenta in a bowl, add pork and garnish with a little cheese and parsley. Or serve in bowls and everyone can help themselves.