Braised Pork & Tomato Rotini Casserole
To me, nothing says comfort food quite like braised meat and pasta; combine the two of them and you get the ultimate cozy meal!
Even the very act of braising the meat has something cozy and comforting about it. While it does require a little bit of time, you don’t need to actively attend to it: you basically just set it and forget it. That actually makes it an enjoyable and relaxing activity to do on the weekend, and one that will make your house smell amazing, to boot!
And then after a few hours of you doing absolutely nothing, save for maybe checking on your dish once or twice to make sure everything’s under control, you get rewarded with the juiciest, tastiest, most tender morsels of meat. Oh yeah. I LOVE me some braised meat. Quite frankly, I don’t think I could ever be without my precious Dutch oven anymore. It’s probably one of the most used pieces of equipment in my kitchen right now…
As an added bonus, it makes food look naturally pretty. You barely even need to dress things up!
You know what this rotini casserole reminds me of? Sitting in front of a beautiful bone warming fire, all wrapped up in a thick, plush blanket, while watching tiny little snowflakes slowly falling from the sky.
It almost makes me wish for winter to stick around for a bit longer…
I’m pretty sure that it’ll have you feel exactly the same!
Note that I made mine using fresh pork loin because that’s what I had on hand, but you could very well do the exact same thing with beef or lamb, if you preferred. A nice chuck or blade roast, or sliced up leg of lamb would work just as great, if you ask me. Just make sure that you go for boneless cuts of meat and you’ll be good to go.
If your meat didn’t come pre-sliced, cut it into thick slices and then season it liberally with salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil (or other healthy cooking fat of your choice) in a large skillet set over high heat.
When that pan is nice and hot, add the pieces of meat and let them cook undisturbed until a nice golden crust has formed, about 4-5 minutes.
Then, flip the pieces of meat and continue cooking them until they get all nice and golden on that side as well.
Transfer the seared pieces of meat to a 7 quart Dutch oven and reserve.
Return your skillet to the heat source and lower the heat to medium; add onions and garlic and cook for one or two minutes, until slightly browned and softened.
Deglaze the pan with a cup of water, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan well so you get all the tasty bits to detach. Oh, and if you wanted to deepen the flavor of your sauce even more, you could very well use bone broth, chicken stock or even red wine to deglaze your pan, instead of plain water.
Once that’s done, pour every last bit right over the reserved meat.
Add the canned tomatoes, both crushed and diced, the remaining cup of water, as well as all the herbs and seasonings.
Here I’d like to share a little trick that my mom thought me when I was a kid: use that water to rinse the cans before to throw it in the sauce. Simply pour some of the water into a can, swirl it around until the can is clean and then pour that into the sauce. Repeat with the remaining can(s).
Less waste, more flavor! I’m all for that!
Give the newcomers a good stir until all the ingredients are well combined, being careful to leave the meat sitting undisturbed at the bottom of the Dutch oven.
Cover and cook in a 350°F oven for about 2½ to 3 hours hours, or until the meat falls apart very easily when pulled with a fork.
When the sauce is ready, cook the rotini according to the instructions on the package, but reduce the cooking time by a about half. You want the noodles to remain very al dente, since we’ll finish cooking them directly into the sauce.
When the noodles are about half cooked, drain them well and add them to the sauce.
Return the dish to the oven for about 10 minutes, just to finish cooking the pasta and give it a chance to absorb all the extra moisture and beautiful flavors of the sauce.
You are now ready to serve!
Garnish with a little bit of chopped parsley, if you want to and happen to have some lying around in the fridge, and enjoy!
Bone warming fire, plush blanket and snowflakes entirely optional…
Braised Pork & Tomato Rotini Casserole
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3.3 lb pork loin roast
- Salt and pepper, to sprinkle on the meat
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 - 28oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 - 28oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 - 28oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups water, divided
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp italian seasoning
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups dry rotini noodles*
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Slice your pork loin into 4 thick slices and season liberally with salt and pepper; heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, add the pieces of meat and let them cook undisturbed until a nice golden crust has formed, about 4-5 minutes. Flip the pieces of meat and cook until golden on that side, too.
- Transfer the seared pieces of meat to a 7 quart Dutch oven and reserve.
- Return the skillet to the heat source and lower the heat to medium; add onions and garlic and cook for one or two minutes, until slightly browned and softened. Deglaze the pan with a cup of water, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan well so you get all the tasty bits to detach; pour over the reserved meat.
- Add canned tomatoes, second cup of water, herbs and seasoning and stir until well blended.
- Put the lid on and cook in the oven for about 2½ to 3 hours, or until the meat falls apart very easily when pulled with a fork.
- Cook the rotini according to the instructions on the package, but reduce the cooking time by a about half. You want the noodles to remain very al dente. Drain the noodles and add them to the sauce. Stir well, cover and return to the oven for about 10 minutes, to finish cooking the pasta.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.