Balsamic Spare Ribs with Gorgonzola Polenta

See this meal?  That delicious, fall-off-the-bone spare rib in a sticky balsamic glaze?  The creamy, rich gorgonzola polenta?  Wanna guess how I made it? 

That’s right, baby.  The whole thing, in the slow cookers (and the microwave for the broccoli, but eh it’s steamed broccoli that’s not exactly exotic).  My darling sister Anne gave me The Italian Slow Cooker Cookbook for Christmas, and it gave me both of these recipes.  And oh my gosh, but it was sooooooo gooooooood. Like in a we-fought-over-every-last-scrap-of-leftovers kind of good.  
The ribs are fall-apart tender after their long run in the slow cooker, with a fantastically tart-yet-sweet zing thanks to the wine and balsamic sauce.  This goes amazingly well with the polenta – creamy and earthy with that distinctive blue-cheese saltiness and tang.  All the flavors come together to give you pretty much everything you are looking for in a good dish.  A long time ago (well before Doots) Scott and I attended a Left Hand Brewing dinner, it included several courses and I will never forget the beef course – a short rib glazed in a balsamic sticky coating, perched on blue cheese polenta.  When I picked these two recipes out of this cookbook I was hoping to recreate the same flavors, and I must say – we were not disappointed 🙂

 

Balsamic-Glazed Spare Ribs
(adapted from The Italian Slow Cooker Cook Book, 2010)

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 lbs. pork spare ribs
Salt and ground pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. dry red wine
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 three-inch sprig fresh rosemary

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the mat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add as much as can fit in the pan without crowding (cut ribs as necessary).  Cook until nicely browned on all sides.  Transfer the meat to a large crock pot (8.5 qt. if possible) and brown the remaining meat.

Discard all but 1 Tbsp. fat and reduce the heat to medium.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and vinegar and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan  Pour the liquid over the ribs and add the rosemary. 

Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours, until the ribs are very tender. Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and discard the rosemary sprig and any loose bones. Cover the ribs and keep warm.

Skim the fat off of the liquid.  Pour the remaining sauce into a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced and slightly thickened. Spoon the sauce over the ribs and serve hot.

Gorgonzola Polenta
(adapted from The Italian Slow Cooker Cook Book, 2010)

Ingredients:
2 c. water
2 c. milk
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cream cheese
1/2 c. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

In a small slow cooker (I used my 2-qt. sized) – stir together the water, milk, cornmeal, and salt.  Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.  Stir well and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour longer, until the polenta is thick.

Turn off the cooker.  Stir in the cream cheese and half of the Gorgonzola.  Pour the polenta into a serving bowl.  Sprinkle with the remaining Gorgonzola and serve hot.

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