Shredded Pork Shoulder Ragu with Mascarpone Polenta
4 pounds (or a little more) pork shoulder
2 jars (24 ounces each) prepared pasta sauce
7-10 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
3-4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups chicken stock (I use good bullion)
2 cups cream or half-and-half
2 cups skim milk
2 cups cornmeal
½ cup good grated parmesan and/or Romano cheese
Mascarpone, to pass
Heat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high to high heat.
Pat the roast dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Brown all sides of the meat in the hot, dry pan (no oil); 2-4 minutes per side. Transfer the roast and all the juices and fats into a large roasting pan; cover and roast meat for about 60-90 minutes. Raise oven to 315 degrees.
Remove the pan from the oven and set the meat aside. To the pan add the two jars of sauce, 1 jar full of hot water, basil and sugar and stir. Cut the roast into about four chunks (it will be pretty raw still). Put the meat and all its juices into the roasting pan of pasta sauce. Bake, covered, for at least 4 hours; it's done when the meat is ready to shred or fall apart.
Take the meat out of the sauce and let it cool enough to handle. Remove the fat from the meat and skim the fat off the sauce. Break up the meat into bite size pieces. Serve the meat with the sauce and with polenta or pasta.
For the polenta: Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the parmesan; it should be about the thickness of oatmeal. Serve mascarpone on the side, allowing diners to add a tablespoon or two to their own hot portion of polenta.