Pork Neck Ragu with Pig Skin Braciole

Discussion in 'Nose to Tail' started by snorkelinggirl, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Nose-To-Tail folks,

    Since a lot of folks on the forum are making bacon, there is probably a lot of pig skin lying around that people are wondering what to do with. This recipe is a delicious way to use up some of that skin.

    Braciole is an Italian dish that is a thin steak (like flank steak) that is seasoned, rolled up, seared, simmered in a tomato sauce, then served sliced with the tomato sauce. Pig skin braciole is the same concept but using pig skin instead of the thin steak.

    I had a package of pork neck bones that I've been needing to use, so I used them to make a nice pork ragu. Pork neck bones yield some meat that is just incredibly flavorful, although there isn't a lot of it.  But they work great for making meat sauce.

    First they are seasoned with salt and pepper.

    Then I roasted them in a preheated 450 deg F oven for around 30 minutes until nicely browned.

    Then I poured in a pint of chicken stock, covered the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and braised the neck bones in the oven at 250 deg F for about 4 hours until the meat was falling of the bone.  I pulled the meat off the bones and shredded it.  The meat is going to be stirred into a quart of homemade marinara sauce that I've had in the freezer from last summer. I put the braising liquid from the pork into the refrigerator for a couple of hours so that I could defat it.

    While the neck bones were braising, I made the pig skin braciole.  Start with about a lb or so of pig skin.  The picture below is actually around 2 lbs, so I only used half of it.

    Take your skin and trim away as much fat as you easily can. Divide your skin into squares or rectangles that are around 5 inches wide and maybe a little longer. Mine came out around 5 inches wide by 8 inches long. Lay the skin fat side up.  Don't score the skin, just leave the skin intact.

    Season the fat side with S&P, grated parmesan, chopped parsley. You could throw some other stuff in there if you want. Next time I'll probably add in some panko bread crumbs.

    Starting at one end, roll each pig skin section up tightly into a little roll (skin side on the outside), and then use butcher's twine to tie it like a little roast.

    Heat a little olive oil in a pan, and brown the pig skin rolls lightly on all sides. If you can do this in a braising dish or a pan with a tightly fitting lid, you won't have to get another pan dirty.

    After browning, remove the pig skin rolls and set them on a plate. I then poured my quart of marinara into the same pan, and stirred in my shredded pork meat. 

    I brought this up to a simmer on the stove top, then nestled my pig skin braciole into the sauce. I made sure the braciole were covered by the sauce, then put on a tight lid and simmered the sauce in the oven at 250 deg F for 3 more hours to get the pig skin deliciously tender. Or you could just simmer your pan on the stove top if you don't have an oven-safe braising dish.

    While this was simmering, I made up some creamy polenta.  I used the defatted braising liquid I had reserved after cooking the neck bones (delicious and rich tasting), only because I had it and might as well use it, but chicken stock works well too.  The creamy polenta recipe calls for 2 cups of stock, 2 cups of heavy cream or half-and-half, 1 cup of polenta, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, and a couple of Tbsp unsalted butter.  Yes, it is incredibly rich, but man is it good.

    Bring the stock and cream up to a boil on the stove top, then slowly whisk in the polenta.

    Lower the heat to a simmer, and keep whisking or stirring the polenta continuously until all the liquid is absorbed. This takes around 10 minutes or so.

    When the liquid is all absorbed, stir in the parmesan and butter. The polenta will thicken more as it cools, so I then set it to the side for a few minutes while I removed the braciole from the sauce and sliced it.

    Here are the braciole out of the sauce. They should be very tender and easy to slice, almost pillowy in texture.

    I sliced them into about 1/4" to 1/3" thick slices. Here are the slices from 2 of the rolls (minus a few that I already popped into my mouth!)

    And here is the finished dish!  A bed of creamy polenta, topped with some pork neck ragu and a few pig braciole.

    The little pig skin braciole are fun to eat and very tasty...the texture is soft, pillowy, and a little chewy. They are pretty easy to make, and to keep things super simple you could just cook them using jarred spaghetti sauce.  I hope that folks give them a try!

    Sorry for the long post!  But to anyone who actually read this whole thing -- thank you so much for checking out my post!!

    Have a great night!

    sm0kin likes this.
  2. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think this is just brilliant! I do love pig skin but haven't seen it done this way before. Our Italan community call that rolled thin steak cooked in sauce ,involtini .Must be regional difference.
    Neck is a great cut of pork,they call it scotch fillet to get people to engage with it but I don't need any assistance. This dish has a real mountains feel to it,sort of Northern Italan with the polenta.
    Funny given our seasons are reversed but there's tripe in the Italian butchers often done with beans or chickpeas in the winter time.
  3. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Wow Clarissa!

    This looks fantastic....I better double up on the cholesterol medicine!

    Thanks for sharing this one...

  4. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you so much, Mick!  I had been looking for ways to use pig skin as I hate to throw stuff out, and I came across a few references to the pig skin braciole on the internet. I gave it a shot, and my husband and I had a war of forks over who got to eat the last one. Since then, I usually slip at least one in whenever I make a red sauce or ragu.  A tasty garnish, and makes the sauce silkier. Not exactly seasonal right now, but I'm trying to clean last year's marinara out of the freezer and I had those pork neck bones to use up....so et voila!

    We don't eat polenta too often, as we try and stick lower carb in general. But gosh it was good!
  5. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks so much!!  Yes, this isn't the kind of meal we could eat everyday.  But gosh it was worth it. 

    Thanks for checking out my post, and have a great day!

  6. Outstanding! What a great concept to use the skin. I have smoked just the skin and use it to flavor dishes as well as small pieces to "grease" the pancake griddle.
  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Another great write up and innovative dish! Thanks for sharing Clarissa!
  8. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Guuuuurrrrrrrrllllll Pleaze!  You are the bomb and kill me with the stuff you do!  Amazing!  That looks really good!

    This is what I am used to with Pig skin:


  9. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Very nice dish Clarissa.....well presented and thoughtful. I like the use of neck bones in the ragu, very flavorful and peasant like, making use of every thing on the critter. Funny story, years ago I made a  batch of red 'gravy' using some roasted neck bones and didn't shred the meat off, just added the bones and all to simmer away for hours in the sauce. What a mistake....while being delicious the bones all disconnected and went everywhere in the pot...lol. I had a helluva time fishing them out. Enjoy the weekend...Willie
  10. dwsmith43

    dwsmith43 Fire Starter

    Love me some pig skins. Kat- what is your process for pork rinds. I just seem to make them too hard.
  11. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Alesia,

    Thanks very much for checking out my post and for the compliments!  I love the idea of using smoked pig skin to grease a griddle, I'll definitely do that the next time we make pancakes.

    Thanks again and have a great weekend!

    Thank you so much, Case!  Have a great weekend....I'm looking forward to reading about your culinary adventures next week!

    Hey Kat,

    Thank you so much!!  I love pork rinds too, but it is fun to mix things up a little. 

    Hope you have a great weekend, and thanks for checking out my post and for the compliments!

    Hey Chef Willie,

    Thanks for looking at my post, and thanks very much for the compliments!   I totally feel your pain about the disconnected bones in your gravy.....I was surprised by how many different sized bones fit together to make a pork neck.  Sounds like it must have been a lot of work fishing those out, but I bet the gravy tasted amazing!  Good story!

    Have a great weekend yourself!

    I agree, pig skin is yummy!  

    Thanks for checking out my post!

  12. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Very nice! I can only imagine the flavors you had there pork....Parmesan wow!
  13. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you, Todd!   There definitely was a nice mix of flavors, particularly the next day.  Don't you love food where the leftovers are better than the original meal!

    Have a great evening!

  14. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I love taking the time to cook something down for a long time and the flavors you get for your effort. Also I like Parmesan on just about anything, it is probably 2nd only to bacon!

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