I recently dined at a favorite Italian joint, where I enjoyed a mind-blowing dish of braised oxtails heaped over semolina gnocchi. I thought I’d enjoyed every type of gnocchi known to man, but alas, these little blobs of heaven struck a chord. Paired with the warm, fatty oxtails, it was rich and hearty enough to keep the frost at bay.
I immediately began to concoct a version of the recipe in my head. Always being fascinated with the similarities between Italian and Southern cuisine, I wanted to make a similar dish using flavors more familiar to me, while still keeping it true to its roots. I decided to make my ragu using pork shoulder and bacon (two of my favorite ingredients!), as well as cider vinegar for a bit of Southern flair.
For the gnocchi, I actually wanted to create a similar style dumpling using grits. I made two attempts, and while the results were tasty, they were far more labor intensive than I wanted for this recipe. That being said, you could dump this ragu over creamy stone-ground grits and (literally) be in hog heaven.
The beauty of this recipe is that while it takes a bit of time (two days, mostly unsupervised), it will provide you the ultimate in nourishment for a week. Make it on a Sunday and you will have a Monday night dinner to remember. Or a Tuesday and Wednesday dinner for that matter. Heck, I was still excited about it on Friday. Oh, and those dumplings? They’ll be finding their way to my table again, in as many ways as I can dream up.
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