This morning I rose at a reasonable hour, did Pilates and a “Meditation Yoga” class, cleaned up, and even put some posters on the wall in my room so it finally looks like someone with a personality lives in here. It was the kind of morning that really made me feel like I had my life together, like I am the kind of person that gets. shit. done.
Then I opened my glove compartment and there was the bright pink pair of underwear that I hid in there THREE YEARS AGO when I got all the way to an event before my friend decided to let me know that they definitely showed through my dress. My options were to either be the kind of white trash queen that has a visible thong or the kind that goes commando to a very serious ceremony. Life lesson: not every choice is a fun one and, for the love of God, thoroughly check your outfit in proper lighting BEFORE leaving the house.
Moral of the story is, one driven morning ain’t gonna change ya. Remember who you are.
I opened up my list of required textbooks for my first year of medical school and had a minor panic attack. Not only is it damn near 2,000 dollars worth of paper, it seems like there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I can possibly retain all of that information. I’m the kind of girl that has four sunglasses cases (but no sunglasses) in her car and had a waiter come running after me because I forgot to pick up an excessive amount of change after paying my tab. Sometimes I wonder where the hell my brain is.
On days like this, when I need to recenter and convince myself that I can indeed survive on my own, I come back to that slow food philosophy. Some minor babysitting and love and a bitchin’ meal at the end to round it all out. I even made fresh pasta and hand-cut the pappardelle. It was a better day.
- 1 cup diced sweet onion
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1/2 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes + 1/2 cup water to rinse
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 anchovy filets, minced
- 1 3-4 lb pork butt, cut into 2-inch chunks (remove any excess fat)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Parmesan and parsley, for garnish
- 1 lb fresh pappardelle (or store-bought, you know I won’t judge)
- In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, sear off your pork. You want each chunk to be browned on all sides because remember, browned is better. You have to work in batches and not crowd the pan to really develop that beautiful crust. Be patient and I promise it will pay off. Set aside.
- Without cleaning the pan (those browned bits and little bit of fat in the bottom are definitely your friends) add in the carrots, celery, and onion to sweat and soften for a few minutes. If your pork didn’t release enough fat, add a little olive oil to lubricate the pan. I also like to add a pinch of salt at this stage to help the veggies release their liquid.
- After 7-9 minutes, when the vegetables are all softened but not yet browned, create a well in the middle to add in the chopped anchovies and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes or until fragrant before adding in the wine and scraping the bottom of the pan well to release all the flavorful browned bits. I know, a group of people will collectively EW at the use of anchovies. Believe me, you won’t catch me eating those suckers alone but they have their place in Italian cooking. Don’t even bring me a Caesar dressing without them, miss me with that weak shit. I promise, you won’t taste them in the final product. They just bring this beautiful earthiness that you’d miss if they were left out.
- Using your hands (because it’s fun and we are ~rustic~) crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot. Using the 1/2 cup of water, rinse out the can and make sure you miss NONE of that tomatoey goodness.
- Add the oregano and red pepper flakes to the pot and nestle the pork back in, trying to keep as much of it as you can below the liquid line.
- Once it is bubbling, reduce the heat to low or simmer (my weak ass stove won’t even produce heat at simmer, basically what you want is one or two small bubbles popping up every minute or so, NOT BOILING.) From here, it’s a simple waiting game. For the next five to six hours, just stir every 20-25 minutes and let it do its thing. You’ll know its ready when the pork can easily be shredded with a fork.
- Remove the pork chunks, shred, and return to the sauce. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. I wait until the end to do this because it reduces some as it cooks.
- To serve, place a few ladle-fulls of sauce in a tall-sided frying pan and heat through. Add al-dente pasta (allowing some of the salted pasta water to fall into the pan, this is good for sauce adherence) and toss. Serve immediately with parmesan and chopped parsley.
And there you have it, a meal to feed your loved ones and make you look a lot more perfect than you really are. It’s warm and cozy feel-good food. When it seems like my brain has checked out and the world is falling apart, I remember that I can still do this. I can cook for the people I love and watch the smiles cross their faces. No matter what I mess up, that never fails to make me happy again.
We are who we are. I’m never going to be Martha Stewart-style perfect. Neither is Martha though, that little jailbird. I think that’s what really made me love her, but I digress. My noodles will always be a little crooked, I’ll probably always get sauce stains on my shirt, and that’s okay too.