Chef Pieto D'Agostino, from La Capinera restaurant in the Sicilian coastal town of Taormina, has a reputation for being one of the island's most exciting chefs, mixing old and new and adding a modern touch to classic dishes. This recipe, using chicche, a rustic pasta akin to gnocchetti, is a take on one of his signature dishes.
- To serve: finely grated Ragusano (see note)
- 80 ml olive oil (⅓ cup)
- 650 gm boneless pork shoulder, cut into 12cm pieces
- 100 gm mild pancetta, diced
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 300 ml dry white wine
- 500 ml veal stock (2 cups)
- 1 tsp finely chopped sage leaves
- ½ tsp finely chopped thyme
- 1 eggplant (about 480gm), halved lengthways
- 1 extra-large Dutch cream potato (about 500gm), scrubbed
- 1 egg
- 150 gm plain flour (1 cup)
- 1For pork rag, preheat oven to 150C. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add pork and turn occasionally until browned (2 minutes each side). Transfer to a casserole. Add pancetta to pan, stir over medium heat until fat renders (1-2 minutes), then add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until very tender (20-30 minutes). Deglaze pan with wine and simmer until reduced by half (2-3 minutes). Transfer to casserole with remaining ingredients, cover and braise in oven until pork is meltingly tender (2½-3 hours). Strain cooking liquid into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to 400ml (35-45 minutes). Meanwhile, coarsely shred pork. Season sauce to taste, return pork to sauce and keep warm.
- 2Meanwhile, for potato and eggplant chicche, preheat oven to 200C. Score eggplant halves and roast skin-side down in a roasting pan until very tender (40-50 minutes). Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water until tender (40-50 minutes). Scoop flesh from eggplant (discard skin) and transfer to a bowl. Peel potatoes, pass through a potato ricer into bowl with eggplant, add egg, stir to combine, then turn onto a work surface. Scatter with flour and bring ingredients just together with your hands to form a soft dough. Roll into a 1cm-thick log, scattering with a little extra flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Cut into 5mm-thick pieces, then cook in batches in boiling salted water until chicche rise to the surface (2-3 minutes).
- 3Spoon ragù onto a platter. Drain chicche, scatter over ragù, top with Ragusano and serve.
Ragusano, a semi-hard Sicilian cow's milk cheese made from stretched curd, comes from the mountainous province of Ragusa. It's available from Formaggi Ocello and other specialist cheese shops; substitute parmesan or pecorino.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of