Now that autumn has arrived in New England, it’s time to get back to the heartier dishes. This is a Southern Italian dish, where you braise a pork loin in a simple but delicious sauce until it just about falls apart (remember, the braising method is “low and slow”). The name of this dish (I’m guessing) comes from the tomato sauce, which cooks down until it is almost “black.” You’ll enjoy the smell of this cooking in your kitchen — I hope you’ll try this dish!
3 – 4 lbs boneless, center-cut pork loin, trimmed and tied with butcher’s twine at 2-inch intervals
2 tsp salt
6 large fresh sage leaves
3 oz pancetta
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup flat parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups red wine
2 cups canned tomato puree
Rub the pork with the salt; slide the sage leaves under the twine evenly around the meat. Let stand for 1/2 hour.
Mince together the pancetta, garlic and parsley into a fine paste. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta/garlic mixture and cook for 3 minutes. Add the pork and brown on all sides (about 5 minutes). Add 1 cup of the wine; let evaporate. Add the remaining 1 cup wine and the tomato puree. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for 2 hours.
Remove the pork from the pan; remove twine and cover with foil. Let stand for 1/2 hour.
In the meantime, increase the heat for the sauce to medium high. Reduce the sauce until rather thick and “black,” about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with pasta or bread.