Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Porky Pasta: Andrea's Pasta with Pork Ribs

When my friend Jen asked me a few months ago if I wanted to go in on a CSA share from the Piggery, a pork farm near Ithaca, NY, I couldn't say yes fast enough. Weekly deliveries of pork, charcuterie, bacon, cooking lard,* and who knows what else? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

This week was my turn to take home our CSA box, and we got five country ribs. I don't know much about country ribs, but these had a ton of meat (and a fair amount of fat), almost like a rib steak. I had nothing else to make for dinner, really, so it was rib night!

Thing is, most rib recipes involve a low and slow approach, calling for at least three hours in a low oven. It was already 7 when I got home, so that was out of the question. Luckily Bittman's got a recipe in How to Cook Everything where you brown the ribs with some garlic, then add a big can of tomatoes and simmer them for about an hour. Make a pot of pasta and you've stretched four or five ribs much further than they would've otherwise gone. Everyone gets some pasta, sauce, and a rib to gnaw on.

I may have had the heat too high, or maybe this recipe doesn't work as well with country ribs, because the meat ended up a bit on the tough side. It wasn't inedible, far from it: this meat we're getting from the Piggery really is top notch, and it'd take a seriously misguided cook to mess it up that badly. The surprise star of this recipe was the tomato sauce that went on the pasta: after simmering for an hour with those ribs, it took on a luscious porky flavor that was so good, I found myself eating the excess sauce out of my brother's bowl. Why waste it?

In any case, how many pasta recipes do you know that end like this? This is one that I'll definitely make again; it's just barely harder than pasta with tomato sauce, but it's way more special. On top of that, it's a great way to get a lot of mileage out of not too many ribs.

*I feel weird having so much lard in the house. What do do with it? Will it kill me? Suggestions appreciated.
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