Neck Bones (Pork Neck and Noodles)
This simple dish features pork neck bones simmered in seasoned water that slowly cooks into a broth. Elbow-shaped pasta is then added into the water to absorb all the meaty flavors. Erika Council, a software engineer who is also a professional cook and a food writer, shared the recipe, which she learned from her maternal grandmother, Geraldine Gavin Dortch. It shows up on the family Thanksgiving table as a subtle reminder of the food their enslaved ancestors cooked from the parts of the pig they had access to. It's a surprisingly rich, comforting and delicious dish coaxed from only a few ingredients.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 2tablespoons olive oil
- 3to 4 pounds pork neck bones
- 2teaspoons kosher salt
- 1teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1onion, diced
- 1 ½cups elbow-shaped pasta
Step 1Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Season neck bones all over with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Add neck bones to pot and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and brown the other side, 4 to 5 minutes more. Add onions and 3 cups water. It's O.K. if the water doesn't cover all the neck bones; they will cook down.
Step 2Reduce heat to low, cover and slowly simmer, stirring occasionally, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone.
Step 3Remove the cooked neck bones to a separate bowl. Bring liquid to a boil, then add pasta and more salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Stir constantly for the first 2 to 3 minutes to keep pasta from sticking. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.
Step 4Meanwhile, if you'd like, remove the meat from the bones using your fingers or a fork. Discard bones and any cartilage. When pasta is done, stir the cooked meat back into the pot. Serve hot alongside a heaping of greens (collard or mustard) and a hunk of cornbread.