Heather and I made a version of these with our friend Douglas Ford, who used to be the sous-chef at Lucques, for my brother’s birthday party last year. And they tasted totally insane: tender, flavorful, rich without being heavy. They were a massive, massive hit.
So I decided to make a version of them for my family this Christmas — partly based on Douglas’s ribs, partly my own invention, and partly inspired by Daniel Boulud’s rib recipe on Epicurious. In a family first, we shook things up this year and went to a house in Palm Springs instead of back to the homestead in Boston. We each took turns cooking, and my assignment was dinner on the first night. Since I wasn’t sure how well-equipped the kitchen would be, I decided to cook this dish (which tastes better if you make it a day ahead) at home and drive it out to Palm Springs, sauce and all. My parents stopped by my apartment while I was reducing the sauce and were nearly knocked out by the smell. Seriously, this sauce is like crack.
These ribs, served with a parsnip puree and salad, made for very merry Christmas indeed. Make these and wow your New Year’s Eve dinner guests!
Pork Ribs Braised in Red Wine
- 3 large onions, halved, and finely sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 whole shallot
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 3 bottles dry red wine (use decent-to-good wine, it’ll make a difference)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, divided in 2 parts
- 2 qts. stock (I used chicken and beef stock)
- 2 racks of baby back pork ribs, halved to fit in a skillet
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they have released liquid, are translucent, and much-reduced. Add garlic and shallot to onions a few minutes in. Remove from heat and reserve.
In a stock pot, heat all but 1/2 or 1 bottle of wine until it just begins to boil. Then with a match, light wine on fire and let it flame until it burns out. Bring wine to a low boil and simmer.
In a skillet, heat oil until very hot. While oil is heating, salt and pepper the meat. Sear each section of ribs, meaty-side down first, until browned on top but not cooked through. Make sure to brown as much surface area as you can. After each batch, deglaze the pan first with a good splash of balsamic vinegar, then immediately with a good splash of wine. Pour wine and vinegar into the stock pot after each batch.
When all the ribs are seared, place them in the stock pot so they are completely submerged. Add onions, celery, and herbs and simmer on low heat for 2 1/2 hours, or until meat is tender and about to fall off the bone. The bones will feel loose to the touch and will be easy to remove with your fingers. (It’s prettier if you leave them in, though!) Remove ribs from sauce and refrigerate.
At this point, you can continue to simmer the sauce for 2-3 hours until it is reduced to 1 qt., then salt and pepper the sauce to taste and refrigerate overnight — or you can refrigerate the unreduced sauce and cook it down the next day. Either way, refrigerate the sauce overnight and skim the fat off the top if you like. (I didn’t skim the fat and the sauce was divine.)
Gently cut the ribs into single-serving portions and return to the stock pot to re-heat. Serve over parsnip puree, fried polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, or with crusty bread.