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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 12/ 8/2010

Chat Leftovers: Finally, they're in Dutch

By Jane Touzalin

Happy Wednesday, all. If today's front page didn't make you want to roll up your sleeves and start sifting, then I don't know what will. Check out our more than two dozen holiday cookie recipes, and you're bound to find one -- or two or three -- to suit your taste.

And if you've got cookie-related questions, remember: Join today's Free Range chat at noon, and help is on the way. If we don't get to your question, maybe I'll grab it to answer next Wednesday morning. Here's my leftover from last week's chat:

We finally bought ourselves an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven and would love to welcome it to the family with a terrific first meal. Any suggestions? I've considered brisket, which I've wanted to try for a while anyway, but am looking for some other ideas. Something cozy and warm would be ideal, as it is quite cold here. Also great if it were something appropriate for an informal dinner with friends.

Congratulations on the new purchase. It should give you decades of happy cooking. I won't even go into how jealous I am.

I've got two ideas for you. One's fairly involved but so worth it. The other is also terrific, and easier. Both are guest-worthy.

My first thought was the blanquette de veau that David Hagedorn featured in one of his Real Entertaining columns this year. The dish is more identified with spring, but it contains some ingredients typical of cold-weather food: root vegetables, cauliflower, bacon. And it's basically a stew, so that seems pretty wintry to me.

My next suggestion is a pork ragu from Domenica Marchetti. It's a thick,flavorful sauce that can be served over pasta and it's perfect for cold-weather meals.

Both of these recipes are great in that like many long-cooked dishes, they can be made well in advance of dinner and will only improve after a day in the refrigerator.

For ease of preparation, the pork recipe is the one I'll give here. But follow this link to the veal recipe. No reason why you can't make both.

-- Jane Touzalin

Pork Ragu for a Crowd
This is relatively light for a ragu, which refers to a meat sauce that is thick and full-bodied. The pork shoulder and mild Italian sausage cook in the sauce itself.

Serve over short, sturdy pasta, such as rigatoni, penne, tortiglioni or cavatappi (corkscrews), with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

MAKE AHEAD: The sauce picks up flavor after a day's refrigeration. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes about 12 cups (12 to 16 servings)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), in 1 or 2 large pieces
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 5 cups)
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine, such as a cabernet sauvignon
7 cups canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
4 fresh bay leaves
1 large or 2 small sprigs rosemary
1 pound mild (fresh) Italian pork sausage, casings removed

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.

Generously season the pork shoulder all over with salt and pepper. Place in the pot fat side down and brown for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning until all sides are nicely browned. Transfer to a large plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pot. Stir to coat evenly, adding a tablespoon of oil if necessary.

Add the garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the garlic has softened.

Return the pork shoulder to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high, then add the wine, stirring to incorporate. Let it bubble for a minute or so, and then add tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the pork sausage to the sauce in small pinches. Cover and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, adjusting the heat as needed so the sauce cooks gently. The pork shoulder should be fork-tender.

Use tongs to transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board. Use 2 forks to shred the meat into bite-size pieces, then return it and any accumulated juices to the pot.

Reduce the heat to low; cook until the meat is heated through. Taste the ragu and adjust the seasoning with additional salt if necessary. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary before serving or storing.

By Jane Touzalin  | December 8, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers  | Tags:  Chat Leftovers, Free Range, Jane Touzalin  
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My favorite meal to make in my dutch oven is Ina Garten's beef bourguignon. It is fantastic.

Posted by: margaret6 | December 9, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

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