My father bless his heart, loved his “gravy” and his pasta. This was not lost on his oldest daughter, as nothing screams comfort food to me more than a heaping bowl of pasta, gravy and some delicious simmered meat. My father loved to infuse his gravy with flavor long before it was a thing! But in truth Italians know a thing or two about flavor, and meat infusions!
My Dad used pork neck bones and less expensive cuts to add flavor, I am opting to use pork spare ribs because they are so flavorful, so meaty, and fall off the bone tender. Now that summer is over, they are practically giving ribs away. I paid $6.00 for 3 lbs. of St. Louis Ribs. Now to clarify, St. Louis ribs refer to the cut of spare ribs and not the way in which they are prepared. With St. Louis ribs, they cut away the cartilage and breastbone surrounding the ribs, so they are beautiful for this dish, because they practically disappear into the gravy when simmered and the intense flavor of the gravy is sheer perfection. I wouldn’t call this a ragu exactly, but it has certain nuances of that. The trick to making the Italian Spare Ribs in Red Gravy, burst with flavor is to season them well and sear them. You need to introduce flavor to the oil, and the burned, brown bits at the bottom of your Dutch oven are going to make you weep with joy at the flavor they impart. Yes, I am serious!! That stinking good! This dish is really easy, yet impressive enough for guests! You can feed about 6 adults with this. I hope you give these Italian Spare Ribs with Red Gravy a try. It’s a nice change of pace from sausage or meatballs.
* All things in moderation. I eat small amounts of pasta since my weight loss surgery, twice a month when the urge hits, I indulge and I don’t have any regrets! xo
This is what you want to see. It is perfectly ok to have these narly looking browned bits. I promise this is a flavor bomb that you will delight in tasting. Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper. Sear for about five to six minutes per side. Undisturbed. Have a glass of vino, chill and listen to Frank Sinatra or some Godsmack, but let your ribs sear!! Remove them and do the next batch, then remove them to a plate to rest, then add in your onion and garlic and saute. Do not let your garlic burn. About two to three minutes, then add in your tomato paste, let it cook about three minutes, add in your sugar, and dried herbs. Mix well to combine. Add in your can of crushed tomatoes, mixing well and your can of whole tomatoes that you crush by hand.
Sooo, you let your ribs sear nicely, and they are back in the pot to simmer for the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Lid slightly ajar. Mixing occasionally, as needed.
Fully submerged and just at the height of simmering. Let it do its thing. More time left to go. 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stirring occasionally. Time to chill and sip your wine and ponder life. When your ribs have simmered and you can barely contain yourself because of the amazing aroma in your kitchen, it’s time to boil your pasta water and cook according to package directions. Serve the Italian Spare Ribs with Red Gravy, atop the cooked pasta, remove any bones that are free of meat, top with a heaping of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and devour!
The end result. Succulent, falling off the bone ribs in a gravy with tons of flavor, served over pasta, topped with grated cheese. So good! xo
Italian Spare Ribs in Red Gravy
A simple, flavorful way to enjoy spare ribs that are so tender, they are falling off the bone, no knife needed!
- You can use St. Louis style or baby back ribs, the smaller ribs work best for this.
- 2-3 lbs. St. Louis Ribs cut into individual pieces on the bone
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- one small onion diced
- 1 can of tomato paste
- 1 32 oz. can of whole tomatoes
- 1 32 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
- Pasta of your choice, a heavy noodle like Rigitoni, I used Mostaccioli
- 1 tbsp. of fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp. of fresh thyme
- dried basil, and oregano about 1 tsp. each
- 1 tbsp. of sugar
- 1/2 cup of red wine like a Pinot Noir
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, add in some EVOO about a tablespoon and a half.
- Season ribs with Kosher salt and cracked pepper, being very generous. Add into Dutch oven, working in batches. Let ribs do their thing for about five minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat, and take Dutch oven off heat for a minute or two. Place back on medium heat, and saute onion and garlic for two or three minutes until soft. Do not let garlic burn, scraping browned bits. Add in tomato paste, and stir to infuse the paste. Add in dried herbs, and sugar. Let cook about three minutes. Add in red wine and about a 1/2 cup of water if needed. Add in crushed tomatoes, mixing well to combine. Add in whole tomatoes, crushing in hand, before placing in the sauce. Add in juice from can as well. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
- Add the ribs and any juice that collected on the plate back into the gravy. Let simmer partially covered for at least two and half hours up to three, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning, adding a bit more sugar if needed. When time is nearing finished you can begin to boil the water for pasta. Cook according to package directions, making sure to adequately salt your water. Layers of flavor at every step that is the key to making food taste great!
- Serve the Italian Spare Ribs in Red Gravy, over cooked pasta, removing any bones from gravy without meat on them. Top with Pecorino Romano cheese and crusty garlic or warm oven baked Italian bread if desired! Mangia!
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