Serves: Makes 4 servings
- 1 (2½ pound) rack baby back pork ribs
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1½ teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 (2 by ½-inch) strip orange zest
- 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Procedures:These small, meaty pork ribs are slowly cooked in a tomato-based sauce. Although paprika is not typical, it adds a pleasant depth of flavor to the rich sauce. Try smoked paprika for even more flavor. Once the ribs are tender, mix in the cooked cannellini beans and allow them to simmer long enough to absorb the flavors of the sauce.
With a sharp knife, cut through the meaty portion between the ribs to separate them. There should be about 12 ribs. Place the ribs in a large bowl, add 3 tablespoons salt and cold water to cover, and stir to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain off the brining liquid, rinse with cold water, drain again, and pat dry. Sprinkle lightly with additional salt and pepper.
Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and half of the ribs. Cook the ribs, turning as needed and adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a steady sizzle, for about 10 minutes, or until evenly browned. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and ribs.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the onion and green pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the paprika until blended. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Add the cinnamon, red pepper, and orange zest, and stir to mix. Decrease the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Transfer the ribs and any juices that have accumulated on the plate into the saucepan. Spoon the sauce over the ribs and cover. Cook over medium-low to low heat for 1 hour, or until the meat is pulling away from the bones. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Add the beans and stir well to combine. Cook, covered, over low heat for 25 minutes, or until the beans have taken on the flavors of the sauce.
Sprinkle the parsley over the ribs. Spoon the ribs, beans, and sauce into warmed shallow bowls and serve at once.