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Spare Ribs, Italian Style

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There are several different types and cuts of spare ribs, just as there are many different ways to prepare them. My favorite are boneless, country-style pork ribs that have been bathed in marinara sauce for hours until they are so tender, you don’t even need a knife to cut into them.

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You can cook whatever type you like – beef or pork, on the bone or boneless – in red sauce and serve them alone, or over pasta or polenta. Faicco’s Pork Store in Greenwich Village has an abundant supply of all, so use whatever you fancy - just be sure they are well trimmed of fat before you brown them.

This recipe and accompanying slide show will walk you through the preparation steps. I prefer to brown the ribs and place them in a slow cooker for a few hours so I can forget about them rather than hovering over the stove, but if you prefer to hover, by all means cook them stovetop. I love to pair the finished product with linguine, and my next post will show you how I turn them into a succulent ragu – over linguine, of course.

  • 3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed OR 3-4 pounds pork spare ribs, separated into pieces between the ribs
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 quarts marinara sauce
  • 1 pound cooked linguine

Coat a large skillet with a thin layer of oil and place it over medium-high heat. Season the spare ribs on both sides with the Italian Seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

Working in batches, brown the ribs on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes each side. (Take care not to crowd the pan, as the meat will steam rather than brown.) Place the browned meat on a platter, and set aside. Pour out any oil left in the skillet, and return the skillet to the stove.

Lower the heat to low and add enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of the skillet. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, scrape up the brown bits left on the bottom of the skillet until the bottom of the skillet is clean and the brown bits are thoroughly incorporated into the sauce.

If using a slow cooker, pour the mixture into the stoneware of a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the browned ribs in a row on top of the sauce in the slow cooker, spooning the remaining marinara sauce over each layer, making sure each rib is evenly coated with the sauce. Cover and cook the ribs on low 6-7 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, until they are very tender. (If using ribs on the bone, the meat should be falling away from the bone.)

If cooking on the stove, place the browned ribs back into the skillet and cover with the remaining marinara sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the ribs, lower the heat to simmer, and cover the skillet. Continue turning the ribs and stirring the sauce every 8-10 minutes until they are very tender, about 1 ½ - 2 hours. (If using ribs on the bone, the meat should be falling away from the bone.)

Remove the ribs from the sauce on to a warm platter. Toss the cooked linguine in the remaining sauce, and serve hot with the ribs.

Serves 6 – 8

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