ribs à la mom, round one.

my mom makes the best ribs ever. no exaggeration. you can ask anyone who’s ever had them, including my sister’s and my college friends and a handful of taiwanese families in suburban st. louis who frequented our dinner parties when i was growing up. though my sister has nearly perfected the recipe and technique over many trials in the last few years, i had never braved the ribs. mostly because i can never eat more than two of them, and making them always seemed just too daunting. turns out it’s just a matter of mincing a ridiculous amount of garlic, and smearing it all over your ribs with salt, pepper, honey and soy sauce. this is definitely further evidence that simple is best. in general, i’ve tended to refrain from attempting any dishes that fall squarely in my mother’s domain, but talking them up to others not only has them asking for a sample, but also has me craving them myself.

but i’m getting ahead of myself. in honor of a good friend’s return from the states, i decided to do a rib-themed dinner. before you start imagining baby back brownies, let me explain that in italy, they call swiss chard coste, which means ‘ribs’ (obviously for the substantial stalk this vegetable has). they also call a more spinach-like leafy green costine, which also means ‘ribs’. i cooked up the former with some fish sauce and lime and garlic. the latter i didn’t bother with this time around. but first, the scallion pancakes:

which would have been substantially better had i the right flour and cooked them long enough. the edges of these were just about perfect, while the middles were a bit chewy and undercooked. with guanciale (and rendered guanciale fat) of course.

animal (and people) ribs are also called costine, and here are my costine di suino. i guess i should point out that this dinner was rib-themed only in the sense that i realized while cooking that i was working with more than one ingredient that goes by that name. in any case, i definitely got the proportions for the wet rub right (and the recipe is very, very approximate, if it can even be called a recipe), but for round two, i’m definitely going to triple the quantity. while tasty, these just weren’t saucy enough and didn’t fall off the bone. it might also be the pork here as well — the ribs weren’t endowed with fat in the same places that i’m accustomed to — but we’ll see if i can’t get these up to mom level before the summer’s out. i still can only eat just two costine, but i know a couple people who can help polish off two kilos’ worth.


4 Responses to “114865661466833013”

  1. 1 Anonymous May 26, 2006 at 1:07 pm


    next time, put ribs on a sheet tray season with salt and pepper, splash a few glugs of vinegar on the tray and ribs, cover tightly, then cook really low like 200 F for six or eight hours. the next day, add desired flavoring rub and blast the ribs in a hot oven. ribs will be falling off the bone, and crunchy and yummy


  2. 2 Anonymous May 31, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    To get them to fall off the bone – the trick is to wrap them in foil for an hour or so at the end of cooking and into the rest time. I do this for my BBQ ribs, butts, anything really, and it makes the WORLD of difference. I learned this trick from a pro BBQer in Alabama and it has made my meats sooooo much more tender across the board. Try it and you’ll see. Also try cooking them at a lower heat for a longer period – that is the otehr key to super tender meat.

    Good luck!

  3. 3 wind-up-bird May 31, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    my dear sweet holy crap. that looks so delicious i could eat it off the screen. thank heavens i’m a carnivore. i can laugh at my ridiculous veg friends. and suddenly all the friends i have are veg. what’s up with that!?!? and winnie, where are you this summer? because i’ll be in merrie olde england for two months….

  4. 4 winnie June 1, 2006 at 3:59 am

    so mom’s method calls for cooking them on low heat for an hour and a quarter with foil tightly covering the pan and then cooking for another 15 minutes on high, uncovered, to achieve the very necessary contrast of crispy exterior and melty, fatty interior. i don’t want my ribs to be squishy all the way through, but looks like they could use more time at a lower temperature.

    lh: i’m all over the place this summer. but all over europe, and definitely heading uk-side at least in august for the fringe festival in edinburgh, but there’s talk of a trip to york. will email you straightaway.

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