Italian Braised Pork Ribs with Pasta; Recipe from Emilia-Romagna.
This succulent Italian braised pork ribs with pasta is a classic dish enjoyed throughout Italy. Traditionally it’s served on Sundays and holidays as two courses but it can be made into two meals or eaten as a one plate dish!
Elicoidali pasta con costine di maiale.
Like many nationalities, Italians love to eat grilled pork ribs. However, their favourite way to cook ribs is braised in a rich tomato sauce. In fact, you can find variations of this recipe throughout Italy. Traditionally, like other similar slow-cooked meat pasta recipes, this Italian braised pork ribs is served as 2 courses.
Cook once eat twice!
I say 2 courses because Italians usually eat pasta as a first course or ‘primo’ on Sundays, holidays and special occasions (sometimes 2 or 3 different pasta dishes!). The pasta is then followed by a main course of meat or fish.
In Central and Southern Italy in particular, there are many recipes in which cuts of meat are slow cooked in a sauce (usually tomato based). The sauce is then used as a pasta condiment and the meat eaten as the main course. This is actually how most Italians eat meatballs (not the pasta and meatballs together). You can find links to other similar recipes at the end of this post. I often prefer to use this type of dish for 2 meals! I love these cook once eat twice recipes! You can use these recipes on 2 consecutive days or freeze the sauce for another day.
Different versions of Italian braised pork ribs.
This recipe for Italian braised pork ribs with pasta comes from Emilia- Romagna. However, there are very similar recipes in other parts of the country. In Tuscany, they use pork ribs called ‘rosticciana’. These have been grilled first.
In Calabria as well as Campania, you are more likely to find basil, garlic and/or peperoncino in the sauce rather than onions, celery and carrots. I also added peperoncino to satisfy my Sicilian hubby’s love for a bit of spice. But, it’s optional. Some people add pancetta or sausages as well.
In Emilia-Romagna, the pasta for this braised pork ribs recipe is often garganelli, little pasta tubes made by rolling squares of egg pasta dough around a stick and over a ridged board. You can read more about garganelli if you click this link.
I used elicoidali, a medium sized pasta tube with spiraling ridges on the outside. Elicoidali are very similar to rigatoni or tortiglioni. Grooved pasta tubes are great for chunky sauces like this Italian braised pork ribs sauce. The sauce sticks to the grooved surface and even gets inside each piece of pasta! I bought elicoidali made by Rummo, a company in Campania whose pasta is very good quality and widely available outside of Italy.
Making this Italian braised pork ribs with pasta.
This recipe takes between 2 and 2.5 hours to make, so not a weeknight option for most of us. However, The sauce actually tastes better made in advance so you can make it the day before or in the morning.
Like the Italians, you can remove most of the ribs and a little sauce from the pot and serve them as a main course or the next day. These braised pork ribs are so delicious with mashed potato and a lot of Italians also eat them with polenta.
Whether you serve these Italian braised pork ribs with pasta or something else, I’m sure you are going to love this dish. The sauce is rich and full of flavour and the meat just falls off the bone. Despite the slightly long cooking time, this is also a pretty easy recipe to make!
If you do try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback means a lot to me!
Other traditional recipes that can be 2 courses or 2 meals.
- Orecchiette with braciole (beef rolls) recipe from Puglia
- Corzetti pasta with Genovese meat sauce recipe from Liguria
- Maltagliati pasta with braised veal and onions recipe from Sicily
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This classic Italian Sunday lunch recipe is made with pork ribs cooked in a rich tomato sauce until the meat is succulent and tender. Traditionally, this dish is divided into 2 courses but you can make 2 meals out of it. Cook once eat twice!
- 320 g elicoidali pasta tubes (11oz) or rigatoni, tortiglioni, penne etc
- 800 g pork ribs (28 oz) in or off bone
- 1-2 carrots
- 1 onion
- 1-2 celery stalks
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 chili pepper (peperoncino) optional
- 350 g tomato passata or chopped peeled tomatoes (11oz)
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 glass dry white wine (or red if you prefer)
- 1 cup beef or chicken stock if required
- salt for pasta and to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Trim some fat off the ribs and cut them in half. Most of mine didn’t have a hard bone. You can ask your butcher to do this or look for boneless ribs. Rub the ribs with some sea salt.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Wash and finely chop the celery and carrots. Wash the cherry tomatoes. If using, chop the chili pepper into small pieces. Remove most the seeds so it’s less spicy!
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a deep pan and brown the ribs. Remove and set aside. You may need to do this in batches.
Add the finely chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. Add more olive oil if necessary.
Add the bay leaf, chili pepper and cherry tomatoes mix together and cook for a minute. Then add the browned pork ribs. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat so the alcohol evaporates.
Now pour in the tomato passata/chopped peeled tomatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything together and reduce the heat.
Cook the sauce covered over a lowish heat for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and easy to remove from the bone. Exact cooking time depends on the size of your ribs. Check them after 90 minutes. Add some water or stock if the sauce reduces too much. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes is the sauce is too liquidy.
Put a pot of water onto boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet.
When the braised ribs are ready remove them from the sauce. Strip the meat from 3-4 and put back into the sauce. Keep the rest of the ribs with some sauce for another meal or course. You can serve them with potatoes or polenta.
Alternatively you can strip the meat from all the ribs and eat with the pasta or serve the pasta and sauce with whole ribs!
When the pasta is ready drain and add to the sauce. Mix together well and serve immediately. If you like, you can add chopped parsley or grated Parmigiano before serving!
I prefer the pork ribs to be shorter. If I can only find long ones with a bone, I get the butcher to cut them in half or I buy boneless ribs. But you can keep longer bone-in ribs intact if you prefer.
This recipe can be made with any ridged pasta tube such as rigatoni, penne rigate, tortiglioni, maccheroni etc