Eat Drink KL: Stay-Home Cooking #3: Slow-Braised Pork Belly Ragu Pasta by Chef Suren Krishnan

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Stay-Home Cooking #3: Slow-Braised Pork Belly Ragu Pasta by Chef Suren Krishnan

Our latest home recipe comes from one of our favourite local chefs, Suren Krishnan, who owns Section 17's Tipsy Boar and has been a consultant chef for respected restaurants. Suren cooks wonderfully with both his head and heart, with pork as his popular ingredient - his Slow-Braised Pork Belly Ragu Pasta is sure to hog the spotlight for a scrumptious household dinner!

Note: Tipsy Boar is one of  over 50 venues in our Faith For The Future project - support your favourite restaurants by buying a cash voucher to use for a future visit, and earn a 10% discount off your bill. Get your voucher at eatdrinkkl.com/faith

Slow-Braised Pork Belly Ragu with Tagliatelle (around 6 servings)

INGREDIENTS
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg pork belly skinless (Cut pork into cubes; small cubes cook faster and bigger cubes takes longer to get tender. I like mine around 1.5cm x 1.5cm. If you don’t feel like having pork, you can change the meat to any meat you fancy. The only difference is cooking times may vary from meat to meat)
100 grams onion, minced (I prefer red, but this works with red or yellow onions)
100 grams medium carrot, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
3 stalks of sweet basil (leaves and stem together - buy a packet; it’s usually 100 grams a packet; we will make basil oil with any basil we don’t use for the sauce and garnish)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
900 grams (about 2 small cans) peeled plum tomatoes with juices (crush the tomatoes with your hands and also keep the juices)
700 ml low-salt chicken or pork stock (if you can make this from scratch with chicken or pork bones; if not, an off-the-shelf stock is also good)

For Finishing
Fine-julienne basil (stack about 5 basil leaves together and roll like a cigar; start slicing thinly from one end)
Parmesan cheese (get a small block of parmesan if you have a box or micro grater at home; if not, powdered parmesan will work for a home meal)
Basil oil (blend remaining basil with olive oil and salt, and set aside in a small bottle; you can keep extra in the fridge and use it in a salad or as topping for other dishes - it’s great on pizza!)

RECIPE PREPARATION

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Add half the pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown all over, for about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a tray. Repeat with 2 more Tbsp oil, remaining pork, and salt and pepper. Cook pork, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, until nicely browned, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a tray.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil to same pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion, carrot and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic, basil and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until deep red and caramelised, about 3 minutes. Add browned pork with any accumulated juices; stir to evenly incorporate. Add crushed tomatoes with juices; simmer until reduced and sauce is thickened, 5–7 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to break up pork pieces, until meat is tender and sauce is reduced by half; normally it takes around 1 ½ hours to 2 hours but may vary according to choice of meat used and amount of heat applied. When in doubt, trust your taste buds and your instinct; uncover pot if needed during last half hour for juices to reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Time to finish
500gram Tagliatelle pasta (cook pasta according to packet instructions for a more al dente mouthfeel; if you are not a fan of that, cook it an extra 2 minutes more than instructed. Remember to always add salt to the pasta water before adding the pasta)
Drain pasta but reserve some of the pasta water. Add pasta into the simmering meat sauce. Stir well. If sauce is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out a little by adding some of the pasta water. Grate some parmesan cheese on the sauce and check again for seasoning. Add if needed.

Plate your pasta with more parmesan cheese on top, sprinkled with julienne basil and drizzled with basil oil.

Chef tip, do ahead: Rag├╣ can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Alternatively, freeze for up to 4 months.