Puntine di Maiale con Polenta: Pork Ribs with Polenta

Total Time:
1 hr 50 min
5 min
Inactive Prep:
1 hr 45 min
8 servings


  • 1/2 cup small Ligurian or Nicoise black olives, pitted
  • 1 bunch fresh basil cut into chiffonade
  • Salt and pepper
    • 5 pounds lean country-style pork spare ribs
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
    • 4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
    • 2 large bay leaves
    • Generous pinch ground cloves
    • Generous pinch ground cinnamon
    • Generous pinch ground allspice
    • 1 cup dry red wine
        • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
        • 1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
        • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
        • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
        • 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
        • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
        • Salt
          • 3 cups water
          • 1 cup quick cooking polenta or yellow cornmeal
          • 1 teaspoon salt
          • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


            In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the polenta, gradually, stirring constantly with a whisk. Lower heat to a simmer, season with salt, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, until the consistency of thick oatmeal. Pour the polenta into a clean, but not greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

            Preheat the grill or broiler. Cut the polenta into quarters, then halve each quarter diagonally to make 8 wedges. Brush the wedges with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, set over the grill, and cook until slightly charred and crispy, about 10 minutes.

            In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

            Yield: 4 cups

            2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows

            Trim the excess fat from the meat. If the pork is in 1 piece, separate it into pieces by cutting between the ribs. Heat the oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat in a single layer. Take about 20 minutes to brown it slowly, until dark brown and crusty on all sides. Remove the meat to a platter.

            Keep the heat at medium as you stir in the onion and parsley. Cook 10 minutes, or until golden brown, taking care not to burn the glaze in the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently. Stir in the bay leaves and spices. Return the meat to the pan, turning to coat it with the vegetables and seasonings. Pour in the wine, adjusting the heat so that it bubbles slowly. As the wine cooks down over 10 to 15 minutes, use a wooden spatula to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.

            Add the tomato sauce. Stir in the olives, and bring the mixture to a very slow bubble over low heat. Cover tightly and cook over low heat 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce.

            Sprinkle basil over and serve with grilled polenta.