Real porchetta takes three to four days to prepare. This ragu is a fun and fairly fast fix if you're in the mood for porchetta on the fly.
- 1 ½ cups large homemade breadcrumbs or panko
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces cold meaty pancetta or guanciale, finely chopped
- 1 pound coarsely ground pork loin (ask your butcher to grind it for you), or packaged ground pork
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 teaspoons lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons juice
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, about ⅓ palmful
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, about ⅓ palmful
- ½ teaspoon fennel pollen, optional
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, optional (if you have one in the freezer, plus freshly grated cheese for tossing and serving)
- 1 pound mezze rigatoni, or rigatoni
- A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, toss the breadcrumbs and butter; season with salt. Bake, stirring once, until toasted and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, until the fat begins to render, about 2 minutes. Add the ground pork. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the rosemary, garlic, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, the fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, and the fennel pollen, if using. Stir until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine. Cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the Parm rind, if using. Reduce heat to low. Let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.
Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions. Scoop out about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Discard the Parm rind from the sauce. Add a generous handful of grated Parm, the lemon juice, and the pasta to the sauce. Toss, adding the cooking water as needed if the pasta is too dry. Season with salt.
Toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 teaspoon lemon zest, the parsley, and a bit more Parm. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with the breadcrumbs.