This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, April 15, 2004.

Spareribs from France and Italy

Travers du Porc aux Herbes

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork spareribs
Black pepper
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Chopped fresh herbs


1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Cut the spareribs into bite-size pieces, trimming away excess fat if you wish. Put them in a shallow oven pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

2. While the rib pieces are roasting, chop the herbs fine. You can use your choice of herbs to taste - I like two parts fresh thyme to one part each sage, rosemary and mint.

3. Remove the foil from the meat, pour off the accumulated fat, and season the ribs with salt, pepper, the lemon zest and about half of the herb mixture.

4. Reduce the oven to 375F (190C) and roast uncovered for another 30 to 45 minutes, turning the meat occasionally, until it's crisp and browned. Sprinkle with the rest of the herbs and serve.

Costicine di Maiale alla Trevigiana

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork spareribs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
Black pepper
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon flour (optional)

1. Chop the sage and slice the garlic cloves paper-thin. Cut the ribs into bite-size pieces and brown them in the olive oil over medium-high heat in a black-iron skillet.

2. When the meat is browned, drain off excess fat; then add the sliced garlic, sage and discreet amounts of salt and pepper, bearing in mind that you can adjust seasoning at the end but can't take excess salt out. Cook until the garlic turns aromatic and golden. Add the cup of wine and bring it to the boil, scraping the bottom of the skillet to get up the browned bits.

3. Reduce heat to very low, cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer gently for 60 minutes or until the pork is falling-apart tender. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. If you prefer a thicker sauce, stir in the optional flour, mixed into a smooth paste with water, and cook until the sauce thickens.

This warming dish is excellent with either mashed potatoes or polenta.

WINE MATCH: I like spareribs with fruity, not-too-tannic reds. The first time we made the French dish, I paired it with very good Burgundies, but in a more recent rendition I went in a different direction with an amiable California red, the Buttonwood Farm 2000 Santa Ynez Valley Merlot from California Wine Club. I almost always match the Treviso-style ribs with a crisp Italian red such as a simple Chianti or Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.