When I visit Italy back home, I always want to take a day or two to visit my friends in Modena. They are special people, with a good heart and a great " joie de vivre". Maybe because they are surrounded by incredible food or some of the best sport cars in the world. Or maybe because they can go to the "Trattoria Il Fantino" any time they please, while I just have to settle down for drooling memories of my recent visit. This place was a wealth of surprises from the moment we stepped in. I learned throughout my life that when it comes to restaurants, lavish looks can be deceiving. But the moment you enter this place, there is a domestic, familiar feeling to it, like I was visiting some family members or close friends. The owner and his assistant are very simple, pleasant, friendly people, that welcome you with a warm, genuine smile. We were of course there for the traditional Gnocco Fritto and Tigelle, which came in abundance, accompanied with any sort of heavenly cold cuts and rivers of Lambrusco, you can only find in this city. My young son, not a big fan of Tigelle or cold cuts, was somewhat disappointed so we asked if there was anything else that we could have to please his young taste. And that's where the pleasant surprise arrived. A warm oval plate of steaming baby ribs, slowly simmered for two hours with onion, celery and carrots and plenty of Lambrusco. The end result was that my son, being the meat eater he is, was finally ecstatic, and we had to order another big full plate, since we realized that that everyone at the table was eyeing the first plate with envy and desire. Obviously, the owner, chef, being the simple, humble and incredible guy that he is, took me in the kitchen, and after a few minutes of lively soccer discussion he decided to share the simple recipe with me.
a rack of baby back ribs, cut into individual parts
2 carrots finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
sprig of rosemary finely chopped (optional)
1 bottle of lambrusco
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup beef stock, additional if liquid needed.
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil until very hot. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and saute until somewhat golden. Next, over high heat, add the ribs, and give them a nice golden brown seer all over. Add salt, and a little broth. If you want to add a little rosemary, do so now. Next add the whole bottle of lambrusco, it should cover the ribs completely. Over medium low heat, allow the ribs to simmer in the lambrusco until the wine is all evaporated. Stir occasionally, they will probably need to simmer for a good two hours. The lambrusco will develop into a delicious sauce for your absolutely tender delectable ribs. The ribs should become so tender, they will be pulling away from the bone. Serve with some nice oven roasted potatoes, and a bottle of the best lambrusco you can find. The results are sure to be delightful.