“As a teenager I remember the fun of a Sunday excursion in the country with friends for the sole purpose of eating large quantities of country food. We would dash to the hills in search of farmhouses that could feed a crowd for very little money. Those meals were made up of home-cured salamis, prosciutto, sausages, polenta and tasty spareribs.”
I wish that I could say that this is a food memory from my youth, but I must confess and tell you that these words come from Biba Caggiano. I love her book Trattoria Cooking, which I’ve owned for years and have had success with every dish that I’ve cooked. I’m drawn to this treatment of spareribs which it is unlike any other preparation of ribs that I’ve made before. Here spareribs are browned and then braised in a tomato sauce enhanced with onions, sage and pancetta. The ribs are cooked until the meat is falling off the bone and served over polenta. Be sure to have some crusty bread nearby to sop up the incredible tomato sauce. Tonight we’re having leftovers spooned over pasta. Ho l’acqualina in bocca (my mouth is watering)!
Le Costicine di Maiale in Umido
1/3 cup olive oil
8 pork spareribs, cut into single ribs (about 3 pounds)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
10 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 pound pancetta, finely chopped
1 cup medium-bodied red Italian wine (like Sangiovese)
4 cups Italian canned tomatoes with their juice, put through a strainer or food mill
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add as many ribs as fit without touching and brown on both sides. As they brown remove from skillet to a plate and brown remaining ribs.
Lower the heat to medium. Discard half of the fat in the pan and add the garlic, sage, rosemary and pancetta. Cook, stirring until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Return the ribs to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the meat is tender and fall off the bone, about 1 hour. Stir and turn the ribs a few times during cooking. If the sauce is too thick, thin with a little water or broth. Serve over polenta or pasta. Serves: 4