Nonna’s Pork Ribs in Rich Tomato Sauce

This is a classic Italian dish of pork ribs cooked in a rich tomato sauce. In Italy this popular recipe is Costine di maiale in umido. The ribs are cooked slowly in the sauce until they are so tender that the meat falls off the bone and the tasty tomato sauce is thick and delicious. This rustic dish is served with polenta or mashed potato but can also be served with rice or pasta.

Nonna’s Pork Ribs in Rich Tomato Sauce


  • 2 racks of pork ribs (serves 4 or one rack for 2) chopped into pieces with 3-4  ribs
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 x 400 g can of peeled tomatoes with their liquid
  • 2 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 6 stalks of parsley, leaves removed and chopped
  • A five cm sprig of rosemary, stalk removed and leaves finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the frypan
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the vegetables by chopping them roughlyIMG_20180412_085319-Ribs in sauce 18
  2. Using a large, deep fry pan with a lid, add enough oil to cover the base of the pan and add knob of butter and set on a high heat
  3. When the oil is hot and the butter foams, add the pieces of rib and brown them well in batchesIMG_20180412_084308-Ribs in sauce2
  4. Continue cooking the pieces and remove them when browned to a dish and cover looselyIMG_20180412_084219-Ribs in sauce 1
  5. Add the chopped onion to the pan drippings, lower to medium low and cook for 6 minutes until transparentIMG_20180412_084608-Ribs in sauce 4
  6. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute
  7. Return the rib pieces to the onions to the fry pan raise the heat to medium high and pour over the wine and cook for about 5 minutes until it has evaporated.IMG_20180412_084829-Ribs in sauce 6
  8. Add the peeled tomatoes and the liquid from the canIMG_20180412_085027-Ribs in sauce 7
  9. Dissolve the tomato paste to the chicken stock and pour over the ribsIMG_20180412_085045-Ribs in sauce 8
  10. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  11. Add the chopped carrots and celeryIMG_20180412_085438-Ribs in sauce 10
  12. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and finely chopped rosemary, adding a little extra water if needed to cover the ribs IMG_20180412_085529-Ribs in sauce 11
  13. Bring to the the boil and then lower to simmer.
  14. Cover with a lid and cook slowly for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are tender, checking from time to time as the sauce reduces and adding a little more liquid to the pan if required.
  15. Turn the ribs from time to time
  16. When cooked the sauce should be thick and rich and well reduced and the ribs should be tender and fall away from the boneIMG_20180412_120022-Ribs in sauce 13
  17. Test for seasoning and then set aside to rest for 5 minutes
  18. Serve with mashed potato, rice or polenta and a green garden salad of mixed leavesIMG_20180412_120107-Ribs in sauce 16

The bones can also be removed from the ribs and the tender pork and sauce can be can be served with pastaIMG_20180415_133838-Pork ribs and pasta


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