Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder With Tomatoes, Fennel, and Pasta Recipe

Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder With Tomatoes, Fennel, and Pasta Recipe

Pork shoulder braised in herbaceous fennel-tomato sauce is a true winter warm-up. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

Slow-cooked until meltingly tender, pork shoulder is braised in fragrant mix of sautéed fennel and onions, crushed tomatoes, Mediterranean herbs, and white wine. Once your slow cooker has 10 hours to work its magic, the pulled meat tops pasta, and the sauce is spooned on top. Add final shower of Parmesan, and you're golden.

Why this recipe works:

  • The tomato-based sauce is built from sautéed fennel and onions, with Worcestershire for depth, wine for acidity and umami courtesy of a Parmesan rind.
  • Bathing the meat in the liquid every so often renders it tender and perfectly braised after 10 hours in the slow cooker.
  • The pulled meat is served atop pasta, spooned with the sauce and finished with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan.
  • Yield:Serves 10
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:12 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 (6-pound) bone-in pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut on the bias
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. 1.

    Season pork all over with salt and pepper and place in the bowl of a large slow cooker.

  2. 2.

    Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add fennel and carrot and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add onion and continue cooking until softened, about 4 minutes longer. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minute longer.

  3. 3.

    Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, rosemary, sage, and Parmesan rind. Stir to combine and transfer to the slow cooker, pouring tomato mixture on top of the pork shoulder.

  4. 4.

    Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours, basting with tomato sauce occasionally. When pork is fall-apart tender, transfer meat to a bowl and discard thyme, bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Skim fat from the top of the sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed. (Meat can also be refrigerated in its braising liquid for up to three days. Skim before reheating)

  5. 5.

    When meat is cool enough to handle, shred using two forks, and discard the bone and any undesirable fat. Mound meat on top of pasta, spoon sauce on top and garnish with shredded Parmesan.