I’m back in Emilia with this dish, the region surrounding Parma (prosciutto, parmigiano reggiano) and Modena (balsamic vinegar) that lies in north-central Italy.
They like their pork in these parts. This is a simple but really rich stew. The potatoes begin to break apart while braising with the ribs and help thicken the sauce.
The ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender and the soft and creamy potatoes are coated with the sweet, rich, thick onion-rosemary-sage pan gravy.
You almost don’t have to chew at all. The pork melts in your mouth. The potatoes and gravy fill your mouth with complex, deep flavor.
This is a messy meal for me. I can’t resist picking up a rib and pulling off the pork with my teeth. My fork gets dirty as I pick up the potatoes and gravy that have to be part of each mouthful.
This dish will take you about 90 minutes to make. with 30 minutes of prep and 60 minutes waiting for the tender and moist ribs and creamy potatoes to finish cooking in the rosemary-sage braise.
Serve the ribs and potatoes with spinach quickly sauteed with garlic in extra virgin olive oil and you have a one-plate dinner.
- 1 rack babyback ribs, about one and a half pounds
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cut in one-inch cubes
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Season the ribs on both sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cut the babybacks into individual ribs and remove any excess fat.
- Put a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
- When the oil starts to ripple put in the ribs and cook until you have a golden crust on all sides, about 6-8 minutes.
- Remove the ribs to a plate and set aside.
- Discard excess oil in the pot leaving just enough to saute the onions.
- Add the onions to the pot and saute until they are soft and take on a golden hue, about 5 minutes.
- Add the fresh herbs and mix well with the onions.
- Add the tomato paste and mix well with the onions. Cook for about 1 minute to toast the paste.
- Raise the heat to high. Put the ribs back in the pot and add the wine and simmer vigorously until the wine is almost entirely evaporated. Scrape up all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pot to incorporate the flavor nuggets in the liquid.
- Add the potatoes to coat with the onion mixture.
- Add the broth and bring the pot to a boil.
- Turn down the heat to a low simmer, partially cover the pot and braise until the meat is tender and falls off the bone, the potatoes are partially falling apart and the gravy has thickened, about an hour or so. Stir the pot from time to time.
- Put the ribs and potatoes on a serving platter and spoon the gravy on top garnished with a rosemary sprig or 2 and a few sage leaves.
- Serve immediately.