A bowl of rich, creamy polenta and hearty braised pork ribs suits an leisurely autumn night to perfection. Feel free to make the pork ahead if you’re short on time — it’s even better the next day.
Pork Rib Ragu with Polenta
For the pork rib ragu:
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
3 lb. (1.5 kg.) meaty pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed flat but left whole
3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) dry red wine
1 can (28 oz./875 g.) diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
For the polenta:
6-7 cups (48-56 fl. oz./1.5-1.75 l.) chicken broth, preferably homemade, or water
Fine sea salt (optional)
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz./330 g.) polenta
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
To make the ragu, warm the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add as many ribs as will fit without crowding the pot and season with salt and pepper. Brown the ribs on the first side, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn and brown on the second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter. Repeat to brown the remaining ribs.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat remaining in the pot. Add the carrot, onion, celery and garlic to the fat in the pot and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and saute the vegetables until softened, about 7 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, pour in the wine, and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the pot bottom. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and bay leaf. Return the ribs to the pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cover and cook very gently, stirring from time to time, until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 1 hour longer. Remove and discard the garlic. Transfer the ribs to a clean platter and let cool briefly. Cut the meat off the bones, shred it with your fingers, and return to the pot. Discard the bones.
To make the polenta, bring the broth to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. If you are using water, stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle in the polenta in a very slow, steady stream, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is very thick and comes away cleanly from the sides and bottom of the pan, about 30 minutes. Stir in the butter.
Divide the polenta among wide, shallow bowls and spoon the ragu over the top. Sprinkle each serving with some cheese and serve. Serves 4-6.
Recipe from Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.