Andrea's Pasta with Pork Ribs
1 1/2 hours
Pasta with Ribs is as much of a special occasion dish (for me) as there is. It comes from a time in my life when my friend Andrea and I first got to know each other—the mid 80s—and did a lot of cooking. What came out of that, what I learned from cooking real Roman cuisine several nights a week (with an actual Roman), was a newfound respect for the glories of pork fat, which in this dish dissolves in the tomato sauce and makes it glisten; it's really as luxurious a tomato sauce that exists, and eating the soft meat off the bones while chowing down on a bowl of sauced pasta…nothing better.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small dried hot red chiles (optional)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 to 8 meaty spareribs, separated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes with the juice
1 pound ziti, penne, or other cut pasta
Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese (optional)
1. Put the oil in a deep, broad saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the chiles if you’re using them and the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the ribs and raise the heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until the ribs have browned and given off some of their fat, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands, and add them to the pot.
2. Turn the heat to medium or medium-low— enough to maintain a nice steady bubbling, but nothing violent. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the ribs are very tender, nearly falling off the bone, about 1 hour. Remove the chiles from the sauce if you used them. (You can make the dish ahead to this point; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Gently reheat before proceeding.)
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. Drain it and sauce it; serve a rib or two to each diner along with the pasta. Pass the grated cheese at the table if you like.