COUNTRY SPARERIB, ARTICHOKE AND WILD MUSHROOM RAGU
Struck by culinary creativity (or craziness) last night, I threw together assorted things I had on hand to make an Italian-style ragu using country-style spareribs, fresh artichokes, wild and fresh mushrooms and a little of this, a little of that, with the target being a dish that would work well with a good Oregon Pinot Noir. Although artichokes are generally considered a "difficult" wine match, they form a very minor part of this melange, and in any case, seemed to work well with the rather tart Panther Creek '93 Pinot Noir from Oregon.
This was mostly done out of my head, although distantly based on a Marcella Hazan procedure for lamb and artichokes:
About 1 hour and 15 minutes before dinner, chop one large onion, slice two fat cloves of garlic very thin, and chop enough fresh rosemary to make 2 teaspoons.
Heat 2 tablespoons quality olive oil in a heavy cast iron dutch oven, sautee the garlic until it starts to brown, then add the onions and rosemary, lower heat to medium-low, and cook until they are softened. Add 1 pound country-style pork spareribs whacked with a Chinese cleaver into bite-size pieces, bone in, and brown, adding a little water if necessary from time to time if things get too dry.
After everything is well browned, add salt and pepper and 1 cup red wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 40 minutes.
Soak 1/2 ounce dried Italian porcini mushrooms in hot water. Slice 1/4 pound fresh white mushrooms. Peel all the leaves from two large artichokes; cut off the stems and peel off the tough skin. Cut away and discard the "choke" and peel the artichoke bottoms, then slice them fairly thin. Place all the artichoke meat in a small bowl and squeeze lemon or lime juice over so they won't discolor.
About 20 minutes before dinner (which should coincide with the 40-minute point, above, for the meat), remove the cover, add the artichokes, and raise heat, if necessary, to boil off most of the remaining liquid. Drain and rinse the porcinis and cut them into bite-size pieces, and add to the pot. Add the fresh mushroom slices and stir them in over heat until they start to cook. Add 1 cup tomato sauce, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and continue cooking over low heat until the artichoke and mushroom slices are soft.
Serve over your choice of pasta, with a green salad or a simple dish of steamed spinach, and crusty Italian bread.
The tasty, inexpensive dry Italian red (1994 Casal Thaulero Montepulciano d'Abruzzo) reported in tasting notes made a perfect match.