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Mezze Rigatoni With Smoked Pork Ragù

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Matt Abdoo shows us how to make one of his grandmother's favorites!

Chef Matt Abdoo of Pig Bleeker restaurant in New York City has the best of both worlds — he's half Italian and half Lebanese. He has all the best flavor combinations up his chef's sleeve! This version of one of his favorite recipes is a great way to enhance your pasta game with only a little extra effort. 

Ingredients

  • salt
  • 1/2 Pound applewood-smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 Pounds mezze rigatoni
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 3/4 Pounds smoked pork loin or shoulder, ground
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 Cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 Tablespoons grated pecorino romano
  • 4 Tablespoons grated smoked mozzarella
  • 3 Tablespoons ricotta
  • toasted breadcrumbs (optional)
  • finely chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon over low heat in a large skillet until just done but not crisp. Turn off the heat and set the bacon and its rendered fat aside in the pan.

Cook the mezze rigatoni according to the instructions on the box, then drain it and set it aside.

Add the garlic to the pan with the bacon and return it to low heat. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the carrot and celery. Stir ingredients together well and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.

Add the ground pork to the pan. Mix it into the vegetables, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

Add the white wine, raise the heat to high, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until alcohol burns off.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, cover the pan, and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the butter and milk, then add the cooked mezze rigatoni.

Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino romano, and half the mozzarella.

Preheat the broiler.

Transfer the ingredients to a large cast-iron or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top and add the ricotta in small dollops.

Broil on high for 3–4 minutes, or until the cheeses are golden-brown.

Sprinkle some breadcrumbs and parsley over the top before serving, if you like.