A great dish for entertaining. I served it with toasted fresh bread and tomato bruschetta. It would also be great with a simple salad. I reserved about 1/2 cup of the pork liquids prior to processing and added it to the casserole dish with the pasta. I think it would be even better adding 2 diced fresh tomatoes and possibly some tomato paste or sauce before baking in step 3 as well. Comments in green.
Source: Food & Wine
3 1/4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces (3 pounds with large fat pieces removed)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup dry red wine
4 thyme sprigs
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. chopped oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 pounds orecchiette
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)
1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole (large non-stick skillet), heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme springs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours. I couldn’t fit the stock in my largest skillet so I poured all of the ingredients into my 8 quart stock pot for the 2 hour cooking.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. This would be a great time to add some fresh diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup reserved pork stock, and some tomato paste or sauce.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well. Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over the the Parmigiano-Reggiano. I sprinkled the cheese all over the top and then “pushed” the cheese into the pasta and then sprinkled all over again. Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.