Make this simple and scrumptious supper for just $5

By Amy Watsky

Pork neck is the secret to this pasta sauce

If you need to feed a bunch of people on a budget, this one’s for you. It costs just $5 to make but it tastes like a million bucks. I love a good ragù, or Italian meat sauce. Traditionally made with veal, beef and pancetta, ragù is a meaty red sauce that gets simmered over low heat until the flavors are melded together. For this recipe, I settled on $3-per-pound pork neck instead. It’s one of those cuts that no one really knows about, but it makes for the absolute best sauce. Ask your local butcher for a pound of these bones and they’ll know what you’re talking about. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Not only is this sauce $5, it requires very little energy on your part. All you have to do is sear the meat, throw in some smashed garlic, onions, canned tomatoes and a few seasonings and forget about it while it sits in the oven for six hours. When it comes out of the oven, the meat should be fall-apart tender; you’ll hardly believe this sauce came from pork necks. It’s the perfect work-from-home dish that anyone can make and afford.

Now, my secret ingredient is a splash of soy sauce. This may sound really weird, but it brings out all of the umami and depth in the sauce — it just tastes better that way. My other secret ingredient is a parmesan rind that sits in the braise for the full six hours. My local store sells them for about $2 per container of rinds. It adds a subtle cheesy, nutty flavor that takes the sauce to another level. The rind is a key ingredient so don’t leave it out! I love serving this with fresh homemade pasta (instructions below), but feel free to accompany it with any type of pasta, bread or polenta.

Not sure where to get pork necks? Check out Peads & Barnetts, a regular pork butcher at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Order online and pick up on Wednesdays at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market.

For some imported pasta from Italy, check out Guidi Marcello in Santa Monica (1649 10th St.).


1 pound of pork necks

1 64-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

½ cup red wine

1 yellow onion, sliced

A splash of soy sauce

1 parmesan rind

1 bay leaf

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste


2 cups of flour

¼ cup of semolina flour

½ teaspoon of salt

1 egg


1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Sear the pork necks until golden on all sides in a cast iron pot or any pot that can be put in the oven.

2. Take the pork necks out and set aside on a plate. Throw in the garlic and onions and let it brown for a few minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, wine, soy sauce, parmesan rind, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Stir and place the pork necks back into the pot.

3. Pop the pot into the oven and let it simmer for about 6 hours, or until the pork necks are fall-apart tender.

4. Once it’s ready, remove the bones, parmesan rind, and bay leaf and shred the meat in the sauce.

5. Serve with pasta, bread or polenta. Bon appetite!

Pasta Instructions

1. Mix the flours and salt together. Once incorporated, make a well in the center.

2. Crack an egg into the well and start whisking with a fork. Gradually pour in some water until the mixture starts to come together. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth. The dough should feel like playdough.

3. Let it rest in the fridge. I made mine in the morning and let it rest until just before dinner, but if you’re in a rush, you can leave yours out on the counter for 30 minutes.

4. Roll out the dough either by hand or through a pasta machine and cut into shapes of your choosing.

5. Boil in salted water for 90 seconds to 2 minutes and mix it into the sauce. Voila!