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Holiday Recipes from Top Chefs


Smoked Porter Pork Shoulder Ragu


The addition of a smoked porter, such as the Wood Shed smoked porter from Chautauqua Dining Hall, gives this ragu a robust, woodsy taste—perfect comfort food for a long winter’s night, and a great “one pot” meal to serve at any gathering. Homey polenta and melt-in-your-mouth braised kale will make this a meal that will bring anyone in out of the cold.


Pork Shoulder Ragu

2 lbs pork shoulder, medium dice

2 slices bacon, sliced into ¼ inch ribbons

2 T butter

1 small onion, cut into ¼ inch dice

1 carrot, cut into ¼ inch dice

1 celery rib, cut into ¼ inch dice

¼ cup tomato paste

1 sprig sage

1 sprig rosemary

1 cup smoked porter

1 cup chicken stock

1. Combine butter and bacon in a skillet large enough to hold all ingredients.  Render bacon over medium-low heat until lightly golden brown.  Add onion, carrot, and celery and simmer approx. 5-10 min.

2. Add tomato paste and cook until lightly golden brown.  Be careful not to burn the tomato paste; you should not walk away from the pan for this.  When it takes on an amber tinge and begins to emit a sweet aroma add smoked porter and reduce by half.

3. Add pork shoulder, sage, rosemary, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Adjust seasoning at this point.  To do so, add salt and pepper to broth until lightly seasoned.  Do not over season as it will reduce slightly and could become over seasoned.  Seasoning at this point will help to penetrate the meat.

4. Once it begins to simmer reduce heat to a slow bubble. If you cook the ragu too fast it will dry out. Simmer approx. 30-45 minutes and test a piece of pork to determine doneness.


2 large bunches of Lacinato kale, stems removed and sliced

3 T butter

6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

½ teaspoon chili flake

1 cup apple cider

1 cup water

1. Sweat garlic in butter with chili flakes over medium heat until translucent.  Add kale, cider, and water and reduce heat to medium low.  Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.  Season to taste.


2 cups water

2 cups milk

1 cup polenta

2 T butter

1 cup heavy cream

Salt, to taste

1. Combine water and milk and bring to a rapid boil.  Rain in dry polenta while whisking to prevent lumping.  Reduce to a simmer and stir frequently.  Simmer approx. 45 min.

2. When polenta tastes cooked, add butter and cream.  When smooth and combined, season to taste and pour into a nonstick skillet to cool.

3. Once cool, remove from pan, portion into individual servings and sear in hot skillet with butter.


Lacy is an award-winning food writer and blogger. She lives in Westminster with her family. Google

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