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Rustic Slow-Simmered Tomato Sauce with Meat

This sauce can be made with either beef or pork ribs. Depending on their size, you will need 4 or 5 ribs. To prevent the sauce from becoming greasy, trim all external fat from the ribs and drain off most of the fat from the skillet after browning. This thick, rich, robust sauce is best with tubular pasta, such as rigatoni, ziti or penne. Pass grated Pecorino (especially nice with pork) or Parmesan at the table. The sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs or pork spareribs or country-style ribs, trimmed of fat (we used country- style pork ribs)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 pound pasta (we used rigatoni)
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, turning occasionally with tongs, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a plate; pour off all but 1 teaspoon fat from the skillet. Add the onion and saute until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits until the wine reduces to a glaze, about 2 minutes.

Return the ribs and accumulated juices to the skillet; add the tomatoes and juices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently, turning the ribs several times until the meat is very tender and falling off the bones, 1 1/2 hours (for pork) to 2 hours (for beef).

Transfer the ribs to a clean plate. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers, discarding the fat and bones. Return the shredded meat to the sauce in the skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until heated through and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a roiling boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente. Toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve immediately, passing the cheese separately.

PG tested recipe from "Italian Classics" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine

Sunday, October 20, 2002

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