23 April 2012

Braised Pork Neckbones in Garlic Tomato Gravy

If there's one recipe I'll pass down to my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, it'd be this one.

I came across this dish on Proud Italian Cook, one of my favorite Italian food blogs. Marie, the chef behind the website, posted this dish and described it as "Italian soul food, food that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling every time you eat them as you recall memories and smells of your childhood." She then described her husband and his brother sharing the meal together while recalling memories of their mom.

The nostalgic post made me hope that one day, my future generations will do the same. Marie was kind enough to share this recipe with me...which has quickly become one of my favorite Sunday night dinners to make - such a comforting meal to end the weekend.

The first time I made this, Brad looked up from his plate, mesmerized, and said, "Vicky, this is the best meal you've ever made." 

The recipe almost guarantees success: Three ingredients I can never get enough of - garlic, onions, and basil - are used plentifully and focally. The directions are simple and the prep work is almost none - the hardest part is having the patience to let the sauce simmer for a good two hours or so. 

Specialty grocery stores are usually a good place to start when looking for pork neckbones as they tend to carry some of the less popular cuts of meat. Some stores will carry pork neckbones upon request, so call ahead to make sure they have them in stock. 

Servings: 4

Olive oil
4 lbs pork neckbones
20+ cloves garlic, chopped 
1 1/2 - 2 onions, sliced
2 28oz cans San Marzano tomatoes
Lots of fresh basil, chopped
Dried oregano
Red pepper 
S&P to taste 
12 oz pasta (I used fettuccine here, but my favorite pasta for this dish is bucatini, a fat spaghetti noodle)

For the garlic bread: 
Olive oil
1/2 loaf fresh crusty bread, sliced
4 garlic cloves, halved
sea salt

1. Heat dutch oven to med high heat and add few swirls of olive oil. Once hot, add pork neckbones and sear on each side, seasoning individually and generously with dried oregano, salt and pepper. Keep turning them periodically to get a nice, deep dark brown caramelization on all sides. 

2. After the bones have caramelized, add in garlic and onions, sauteing until softened, about 3-4 minutes. 

3. Add both cans of San Marzano tomatoes and break up the tomatoes, mixing well to make sure the sauce covers all the bones. Add crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 2 hours. The sauce will start off a little watery but will slowly cook down and reduce into a wonderful gravy consistency. The general rule of thumb here is the longer, the better...when the meat is falling off the bones, that's when it's ready!

4. When the sauce is just about done, mix in chopped basil and turn the stove off. 

5. Serve over al dente pasta and with a side of garlic bread (I made Fettunta - recipe here). You're going to want some good garlic bread to sop up all that gravy! 

What better way to test out the gravy than with some freshly dipped garlic bread?

Little Gracie decided to nap through most of the prep work, but even she couldn't sleep through the wafting aroma. If I could bottle up the smell that fills my house when I'm making this dish, I would, and I'd carry it around with me everywhere!

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  1. Vicki, What a wonderful post! I'm so happy you enjoy it and it looks absolutely delicious! Your photos are all fantastic they really capture the true essence of the dish. Memories will be made with this dish!

    1. Thanks, Marie! Hope I was able to do the dish justice...It truly is one of my most favorite!

  2. This is easily one of the best meals that I have ever had. 2 Thumbs up and thanks to Proud Italian Cook for passing on this recipe.

    1. Good thing we (miraculously) have some leftovers for today!

  3. This is making me hungry right now... I'll have to put this on the list for next week!

  4. WOW... I am going to make this on Saturday night. Having company and was wondering what to cook. Thank you for this awesome idea. I cannot wait to fill my home with this aroma!! Just hope it doesn't drive my hubby crazy waiting to be served!!!!!

    1. Let me know how it turns out and don't forget to set out a few bowls for you and your guests to place their picked-over bones :)You may need to send your hubby out on a few errands while the sauce simmers!

  5. nice pics!! you are making me fat just looking at them.....

    btw, what camera do you have? haha

    1. Hahaha...it is actually a pretty healthy meal, all things considered. No added oils except a few swirls of olive oil!

      I use a Nikon D60 SLR...I love it!

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  7. Hi Vicky,
    Thanks to this recipe, I keep at least 4# of neckbones in my freezer at all times. It is heavenly!
    I use my own home-grown garlic, and lots of it. Having this dish for dinner is a treat we look forward to all day and anticipate when it will be made again.
    I love that it is stovetop, but now that it's cold and nasty outside, I wonder if you have some tips on using the oven to cook this in? Should it go in covered, uncovered, for how long, at what temp? Please let me know if you have any ideas on the oven method.
    Thanks again and again!


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