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Slow Cooker Pork Cheek Tomato Ragu

I’ve previously posted a recipe for Pork Cheek Ragu which is cooked on the hob, and the other week I posted my rain-induced improvised Slow Cooker Pork Cheek and Mushroom Ragu. This week my mother brought some more pork cheeks home so I decided to make a big batch of a traditional tomatoey ragu, with all the usual veg, in my slow cooker. This will make about 12 portions. I used a third at the time and froze the other two-thirds in foil containers for later.IMG-20121211-01213

Ingredients:

Pork cheeks – 3lbs/1.3kg, approx 21 cheeks (membrane removed)

Olive oil – a few tablespoons

Carrots – 3-4 (peeled & finely diced)

Celery – 3-4 stalks (finely diced) and heart and leaves (chopped)

Mushrroms – 12oz/350g (chopped)

Onions – 2 (finely diced)

Garlic – 1 bulb (peeled & minced)

Passata – 1 pint/700g jar

Red wine – 7fl oz/200ml

Tomato puree – 2-3 tablespoons

Tinned tomatoes – 4oog can

Beef stock – I didn’t have any fresh left, so I used a Knorr stock pot and 7fl/200ml water

Star porcini stock cube – 1 (or some dried mushrooms)

Seasoning – Italian seasoning, oregano, pepper, 2 bay leaves, chilli flakes

Pasta – 500g (I used square spaghetti)

Equipment: Chopping board, knife, frying pan, wooden spoon, slow cooker, tongs, plate

Method:

  1. Turn the slow cooker onto high and add the jar of passata to the crock-pot to warm up.
  2. In a hot frying pan heat the oil and sautee the celery and carrots for about 5-10 minutes before adding the mushrooms and half the minced garlic, and sautee for few minutes until soft. Stir in the seasoning and fry for another minute before adding these ingredients to the crock-pot.IMG-20121211-01204
  3. Put a little more oil in the pan and brown the pork cheeks on all sides before placing in the crock-pot.IMG-20121127-01159
  4. Fry the onions in the pan (add more oil if needed). Sautee for a few minutes until starting to colour before adding the rest of the garlic. Turn down the heat a little and fry for a few more minutes.
  5. Add the wine and simmer until you have cooked off the alcohol (until the pan stops smelling of booze) and stir in the tomato puree.
  6. Add the tinned tomatoes, break up with the wooden spoon if not pre-chopped.
  7. Add the stock and the stock cube/dried porcini, stirring in well.
  8. Bring to a simmer, add some seasoning and celery leaves, and pour into the crock pot, stirring in in all the ingredients.IMG-20121211-01206
  9. Leave on high for an hour if possible, then switch to low for 6 hours, it can be left on for up to 8 hours.
  10. An hour before your ready to serve remove the pork cheeks from the crock-pot and break up using a knife and fork before stirring them back into the sauce.IMG-20121211-01207IMG-20121211-01208IMG-20121211-01209
  11. Leave in the crock-pot on low for another hour or so.IMG-20121211-01211
  12. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain.
  13. Add a third of the batch (or as much as you require) to the pasta pan, put on a low hob and tip the pasta back in.
  14. Stir the ragu in really well so it coats all the pasta.IMG-20121211-01212
  15. Serve in warmed bowls with plenty of grated cheese.
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