This recipe is a supplement to my previous post "Simple Beer Braised Pork" as one of a few ways to transform a single braised pork shoulder into several different meals that can be made in less time, by freezing portions of pork to defrost and use as needed on busy weeknights. See also my recipe for "Pulled Pork & Brussels Sprouts Fried Rice", another versatile dinner idea that can be assembled in a jiffy once you have portions of the braised pork tucked away in your freezer.
For this recipe, the liquid from braising the pork is used, along with all the aromatic vegetables that were used in the braise. As instructed in my braised pork post, after the pork is done and set aside, the softened vegetables are blended with the braising liquid using an immersion blender (or in a blender) until smooth. This sauce has all the flavors from the meat and the vegetables that were cooked low & slow. So in other words, this sauce is liquid GOLD. And there is no better way to mop up that stuff than with starchy pasta mmmmm.
Speaking of that sauce, you do have some leeway in the amount of sauce to use in this recipe. Don't be encumbered with having the precise amount. Realistically, it comes down to how much sauce you yielded out of your braise. In the recipe as written, I've indicated 2 cups of sauce. If you have less than that, you can top it up with a nice jarred tomato sauce to make up 2 cups, or add a drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil to the final dish at the end to lubricate. You actually don't want the pasta drowning in sauce anyway, or so says the Italians (they should know). Hey let's keep this loose and easy shall we? As long as you've got the pulled pork and that sauce, it will be sublime.
1-1.5C reserved pulled pork, defrosted to room temperature if using from frozen (for recipe, see related post "Simple Beer-Braised Pulled Pork")
2-2.5 C braising sauce (see head note)
1C confit cherry tomatoes (recipe at No Crumbs Left) or regular raw cherry tomato halves, or you can simply omit
1 small box of organic baby spinach
1lb pappardelle pasta
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. In a deep saute pan or cast iron pot (large enough to hold everything including the pasta later), add the confit tomatoes (or raw cherry tomato halves or omit) and braising liquid. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add the pulled pork, cover and bring it back to a simmer such that the pork is heated through. Toss all the baby spinach into the pan (it will seem like a lot but it wilts down significantly) and cover with the lid. Turn off heat but keep it on the stove burner to allow the spinach to wilt with the residual heat while the pasta cooks.
3. Once the pasta water is boiling, season it liberally with salt (it should be as salty as the ocean). Add the pappardelle and cook per package direction for al dente, which should be only a few minutes.
4. Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the sauce pan. Don't worry about some of the pasta water getting into the pan along with the pasta. You actually want a bit of that starchy salty water to get the right viscosity. Still off heat, give everything a good toss until the pasta is well covered. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Serve immediately.