Gemelli with Milk-Braised Pork Ragu

Gemelli, the Italian word for twins, is a spiral-shaped pasta similar to a tight fusilli. It works very well with meat ragus, as the sauce gets into the narrow folds of the pasta, reinforcing the overall flavour of the noodle. Braising meat in milk is a very old technique – the acidity of the milk helps break down the protein, and the fat gives the sauce a smooth mouthfeel. You should use very fresh milk, and not let it come to a hard boil, or else you risk curdling the milk. If the milk curdles though, have no fear. It will not have an effect on the finished sauce other than looks.

Serves 4 to 6


1 ½  lbs                 ground pork
1 ½ tsp                  salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp                     pepper, plus more to taste
pinch                     ground clove
pinch                     ground nutmeg
3 tbsp                   white wine
1 ½  cup                chicken stock
1 ½ cup                 milk
½ lb                        oyster mushrooms, torn into strips
1 cup                     frozen peas
1 tbsp                    butter
2 tbsp                   Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, plus more to top the pasta
1 tbsp                   Italian parsley, chopped
2 cups                   gemelli pasta (or substitute with fusilli or penne rigate)


1. In a work bowl, mix the ground pork with the 1 ½ tsp salt, the ½ tsp pepper, the clove, the nutmeg, and the white wine. In a sauce pan over a medium heat, brown the seasoned pork, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until the meat is slightly browned.

2. Add the stock and the milk, and reduce the heat to low. Bring to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by just over half. The ragu should be saucy, not soupy or completely dried out. If the liquid evaporates too much, add in a little extra stock.

3. Add the mushrooms and the frozen peas to the ragu and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the peas are completely defrosted. Turn the heat off and add the butter, Parmigiano, and parsley to the pan, stirring vigorously to emulsify. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

4. Bring a large pot with at least 2 quarts (liters) of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gemelli and cook until al dente, or just cooked through. Drain and toss with the ragu.

5. Serve immediately, and top with a grating of Parmagiano Reggiano, if desired.