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Craig Wallen's pork shoulder amatriciana recipe

A classic Italian comfort food minus the pasta.
A classic Italian comfort food minus the pasta.
'Cesca, Craig Wallen

Chef Craig Wallen at New York City's 'Cesca created a pasta-free version of this hearty Italian dish. Rich pork shoulder is braised with a mixture of plum tomatoes and white wine until tender and served with a delicious amatriciana sauce whose distinctive flavor comes from guanciale, cured pork jowls. "It's like pork on top of pork," says Wallen.

Ingredients

For the amatriciana sauce:

  • ½ c thin slices guanciale*
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into ½-in wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • One 32-ounce can plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

For the pork:

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 2-in pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 c white wine
  • One 32-ounce can plum tomatoes
  • 7-8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 med red onion, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-8 basil leaves
  • 1 t red chile pepper flakes
  • 1 lg bunch escarole
  • Grated sharp pecorino, for serving

Directions

For the sauce:

  1. In a saucepot, sauté the guanciale with the olive oil until it begins to crisp but is not completely rendered of all its fat.
  2. Pour off about ½ the fat, and add the onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well, and set aside.

For the pork:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Season the pork with salt and pepper, to taste. Place a 9-in, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 T olive oil, and sear the pork until deep brown on all sides.
  3. Transfer the pork to a Dutch oven. Pour out the excess oil from the skillet, and deglaze with the white wine, scraping up the brown bits.
  4. Next, pour the wine from the skillet over the pork, along with the tomatoes, garlic, onion, bay leaf, basil, and red chile pepper flakes.
  5. Cover with a lid, and braise until the meat is easily pulled apart but not shredding like pulled pork, about for 1-1 ½ hours.
  6. Meanwhile, remove any tough outer or damaged leaves from the escarole. Cut off the tough root end and tear the leaves into large pieces. Fill a sink with cold water and wash well. Shake off excess water.
  7. Heat 1 T olive oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the escarole, and sauté gently until slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Remove the pork from the Dutch oven, and transfer to a large plate. Strain the braising liquid and reserve.
  9. Place the pork pieces back into the Dutch oven, and pour ½ the strained liquid back on top of the pork.
  10. Pour the amatriciana sauce over top of the pork. Heat until the onions soften slightly, stirring gently, about 10-15 minutes.
  11. Transfer to plates and top with grated pecorino.

Serves: 4

*Note: Pancetta or bacon can be substituted, but the classic "fatty funk" of guanciale is preferred for authentic amatriciana.