Cavatappi with Pork Sugo

A long simmer turns cubes of pork fork-tender in this rich sugo.

A bowl of Cavatappi with Pork Sugo
The other night, my friend, Pam, and I ventured into the city for dinner and Portugual. The man at the Shrine Auditorium. We ended up at Josef Centeno’s Bäco Mercat in the old bank district for the meal. His Spanish-fusion fare was the ideal aperitif before anything with “Portugual” in the name and his flavors did not disappoint. My favorite dish of the evening was a pork sugo on maltaglianti with soujouk sausage, raisins, kale and pine nuts.

This version, although very different than the dish I had that night,  is a take on this Bon Appetit recipe, but using some of the ingredients from my beloved Bäco Mercat dish.

Cavatappi with Pork Sugo

A long simmer turns cubes of pork fork-tender in this rich sauce.


  • Ingredients here
  • 1½ lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1½” cubes
  • ½ cup pepperoni, finely chopped
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup dried golden raisins soaked in hot water then drained
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs removed, torn into 2” pieces
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving-
  • 1 lb. cavatappi, cavatelli or other short pasta, cooked al dente and drained


  1. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over high heat. Working in batches, cook meat, turning occasionally, until browned; transfer to a large plate.
  2. Add pepperoni to pot and cook until beginning to brown. Add onion, carrot, and celery to pepperoni and cook until golden. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Deglaze pan with red wine, scraping up any browned bits. Tie rosemary, oregano, and bay leaf into a bouquet garni with kitchen twine; add to pot along with pork and any accumulated juices, tomatoes, pepper, nutmeg, and clove. Add water just to cover meat (about 1 ½ tomato can’s full) and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until meat is very tender, about1½ hours.
  3. Discard bouquet garni. Using 2 forks, shred meat in pot; cook, uncovered, over high heat until sauce is thickened but still saucy, about 8 minutes.
  4. Cook pine nuts in butter until golden watching closely so they don’t burn. Reserve butter and pine nuts.
  5. 5.Add golden raisins and kale to sugo; cook until kale is soft, about 4 minutes. Mix in ½ cup Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Serve sugo over pasta; drizzle with pine nuts, browned butter, and top with more Parmesan.

Q. Why not use a can of diced tomatoes? Canned diced tomatoes usually have added calcium chloride, which helps them hold their shape through cooking – exactly what I don’t want when making a sauce. I use canned whole San Marzano tomatoes and chop them myself so they melt into the sauce.


Fresh Pasta Cannelloni

Fresh Pasta Cannelloni

Saturday’s alfresco dinner party at my place offered me the chance to practice my newly attained pasta skills. I served three dishes: caprese ravioli, potato gnocchi with truffle butter and, my personal favorite, tagliatelli amatriciana. In all my bustling between steamy kitchen and backyard patio, it was too much effort for me to grab my camera and snap a few pics. So, on Sunday, without any photos for Monday, I spent the afternoon creating this baked fresh cannelloni recipe with a refrigerator full of Saturday’s leftover ingredients. I confess; I ate two large helpings of this smoky, cheesy, tomato-y dish at dinner.


All ingredients are measured by weight, not volume


  • 4 ounces flour
  • 2 ounces egg
  • 2 grams salt
  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 14.5 ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped*
  • 4 ounces mozzarella
  • 4 ounces ricotta
  • 1.5 – 2 ounces fresh basil leaves (to taste)
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese
  • Pesto sauce (optional)


  1. Place flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add egg and salt and blend until dough forms a ball and flour is fully incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. While dough rests, sauté pancetta until crisp. Remove pancetta, drain half of the oil from the pan. Add garlic to remaining oil, and sauté until fragrant.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes to garlic and reduce until only a bit of liquid remains. Remove garlic clove and set tomato sauce aside.
  4. In a food processor, combine mozzarella, ricotta, basil (to taste), and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Roll dough into thin pasta sheets using a pasta roller, (Example: #7 on the Kitchenaid stand mixer pasta roller).
  6. Boil pasta sheets in a large pot of salted water for a few minutes. Dry sheets and lay flat.
  7. Fill pasta sheets lengthwise with ricotta mixture and roll up, overlapping pasta sheet at the seam by ½ inch, creating long rolls.
  8. Place a third of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8” square pan. Cut cannelloni rolls in 8” sections to fit in pan, seam side down. Cover with remaining tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Drizzle with pesto (optional).
  9. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until cannelloni is bubbly and brown on top. Finish with broiler, if needed.

*I use canned whole tomatoes and chopped them vs. chopped canned tomatoes because I like the quality of whole tomatoes better.