Chow Town

Adding Joe’s Kansas City’s pulled pork makes great Italian dish

Rigatoni & Slow Simmered Sunday Ragu with Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork
Rigatoni & Slow Simmered Sunday Ragu with Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork Special to The Star

Last weekend was quite busy for this chef and since it’s the holiday time, rarely do I have time to sit back and relax on a Sunday and enjoy my pasta.

I was doing my radio show on Saturday and had a little time to spare before I went to work on the line at my family’s restaurant, so I stopped at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que to pick up lunch for my cooks. I decided to pick up some pulled pork and just make sandwiches at the restaurant.

My cooks were delighted to see that I had brought them barbecue, but as usual I had about five pounds left so I decided to take it home with me and use on Sunday for dinner after the Kansas City Chief’s football game. I would just add some barbecue sauce and make a little slaw. Little did I know at that time what would happen next.

The following Sunday morning I went to the game and led our home team on to victory. On the way home from the game, my wife had sent me a text saying my brothers- and sisters-in-laws were coming over for dinner along with my mom and a very good friend of mine. No biggie, we always end up with a nice crowd for Sunday dinner.

Now when I think of Sunday dinner with the family, I think of pasta. This dinner would be easy, I would just stop at my family’s restaurant, pick up some of our slow simmered tomato sauce and grab a few pounds of pasta. A nice salad, garlic toast and an egg frittata would complete the meal.

I arrive at home and immediately put some water on to boil the pasta, as my family would be arriving at 5 PM.

My wife, Lisa, had prepared a beautiful salad and all we had to do with his cook the pasta warm the sauce and toast the garlic bread.

I opened the refrigerator to get some grated Romano cheese when I noticed the five pounds of pulled pork from Joe’s. Hmm, should I save it or serve to my family for dinner?

Immediately my mind went to work, as a chef’s mind should, and I thought, “When life gives you pulled pork, you add to your Sunday sauce!”

I then thought about the old commercial with Reese’s Candy. You know the saying, “You got chocolate in my peanut butter, no you got peanut butter in my chocolate.”

This is exactly what happened with my sauce and the BBQ pork. I could just see the owners of Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que and I debated this at the table.

Now back to the sauce preparation. I unwrapped the pork and heated quickly in a sauté pan. I then added to to my Sunday sauce and simmered for 15 minutes. That’s all I had to do. Talk about easy?

My family arrived and we opened a few bottles of wine.

I added the pasta to the water and In less then 10 minutes. I was dishing it up and served to all the family members, just waiting for their reaction.

I have never received so many compliments at a dinner. Everyone raved over the pasta and pork sauce. My mama said something was different but oh, so delicious. I just sat back and smiled.

I finally gave in and told them all that I used Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que with our family sauce. No one could believe it. Seriously, just pulled pork and that was it.

Everyone knows my love for Kansas City barbecue and I told them it was just a barbecue infusion into my Italian cuisine. My brother Salvatore, after his second dish of pasta, looked up and said, “I think you’re onto something little bro,” as he took another bite and then begin sopping up the sauce with crusty Italian bread.

I was honored, to say the least. But there’s more to this. You see, Joe’s pulled pork is really some of the finest I have ever experienced in my life. The pork has the essence of white oak. It has that certain smoke flavor profile that is not overwhelming but one that has a lot of depth. The essence of the rub and the white oak used for smoking makes for a savory pork flavor.

At the end of dinner, my niece asked me for the recipe and said I should share with friends and family. I really think you will enjoy and you too will discover how easy it is to prepare this dish.

Who would ever imagine, barbecue and Italian cuisine? Another match made in culinary heaven. A huge thank you to my friends at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. They have made a lot of people happy, including mine and now hopefully yours.

Buon Appetito!

Rigatoni & Slow Simmered Sunday Ragu with Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork

This is the old-fashioned sauce used by Jasper’s and Marco Polo’s. If you do not like canned puree, you can substitute whole tomatoes, omit the water and puree the tomatoes in a food processor or by hand. Make sure you periodically stir the sauce and do not let the sugar burn or you will scorch the sauce.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onions, chopped

1 whole head garlic cloves, puréed

1 28-ounce can tomato purée

3 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons sugar

10 to 12 fresh basil leaves

1 pound Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que pulled barbecue pork

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and remove the pan from the stove. Add the tomato purée and water and mix thoroughly.

Stir in the salt, red pepper flakes and fennel seeds and cook for about 1 hours, adding the sugar and basil after 45 minutes. At that time you can add the cooked pulled pork. Simmer 15 minutes and serve over pasta.

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 59-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.