Saffron Malloreddus with White Pork Ragu

Sfoglini Saffron Malloreddus with White Pork Ragu

Saffron Malloreddus get the comfort food treatment with the rich, savory pork ragu. Rather than using tomatoes, this sauce relies on fennel, milk, and white wine in order to create a wonderful cool-weather meal! Hearty greens like chopped kale or chard can be stirred in just before the final cook to add more color and nutrition.



  • 3.5-4.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, whole 

  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1-2 cups white wine (semi-dry or dry), divided
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • A small pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 Calabrian pepper, minced
  • 1-pound Sfoglini Saffron Malloreddus
  • Chopped fennel fronds, to serve


      Sprinkle the pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium high or high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pork shoulder. Brown the pork on each side, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove the pork from the pot and set aside. Lower the heat to medium and deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of the wine.

      Heat the oven to 300° F. 

      Add the onion and fennel to the pot and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently and lower the heat if they start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. Add the rest of the wine and milk to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer, then return the pork to the pot. The top of the pork should sit just above the liquid. Return the pot to a simmer, add the thyme and bay leaf, then transfer to the oven with the lid off.

      Cook in the oven for 5-6 hours. Remove the pork and use two forks to begin to shred the meat. If the pork shreds easily, shred all of it into bite-size pieces and set aside. Remove and discard any large pieces of fat or tissue. If it’s still too tough to easily shred with the forks, return it to the oven and check again every 30 minutes. Once the pork has been removed, let the sauce in the pot begin to cool. 

      Once the sauce has cooled sufficiently, use an immersion blender, or transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor, and blend until it’s nearly smooth. Return the sauce to the pot and place over medium low heat. Add 1/2 cup of cheese, vinegar, saffron (if using), and red pepper flakes. Stir the shredded pork back into the sauce and keep it over low heat while cooking the pasta. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

      Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta 1-2 minutes under the package instructions, for a very al dente bite, reserving 2 cups of pasta water before straining. Add the pasta and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to the ragu and bring the heat up to medium. Let the pasta simmer in the sauce until fully cooked. If the ragu is too thick for your liking, stir in more of the pasta water. Serve topped with pecorino cheese and fennel fronds.

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      Chef's Note: When browning the pork, the oil will spatter and jump. If needed, use a screen to cover the pan, not a lid. Using a lid will gather water that will drip back down into the pot and make the oil spatter even more. For the wine, use something you enjoy drinking since the ragu won’t use an entire bottle. The dish is marvelous with an assertive, dry white like Sauvignon Blanc, but would also work well with a milder white like Chardonnay or a dry Reisling. Using the pasta cooking water not only helps the texture of the sauce, but will also infuse the ragu with some of the saffron flavor from the pasta.

      Pasta Swaps: This recipe would also work well with Whole Grain RadiatorsSemolina Zucca, or Cascatelli by Sporkful.

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