Recipe courtesy Louis Maldonado, executive chef, Spoonbar, Healdsburg, CA
Fennel & Aleppo Pepper-Spiced Spare Ribs with Saffron-Tomato Stew and Crushed Fingerling Potatoes.
- 2 tablespoons toasted and crushed fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
- 2 tablespoons toasted and ground coriander
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 10 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
- 3 racks of St. Louis style spare ribs
- 36 French fingerling potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5 bay leaves, divided
- 3 medium-sized yellow onions
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons minced shallot
- 3 tablespoons minced thyme
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 4 ounces Red Boat Fish Sauce
- 4 ounces white wine
- 6 cups peeled plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon saffron
Combine the fennel seed, Aleppo pepper, coriander, lemon zest and 6 tablespoons of kosher salt. Heavily season the spare ribs and let sit overnight. The next day, preheat an oven to 400˚F. Pull the ribs out early so they can temper, wrap each rack tightly with foil and put into the oven for 2 hours. Remove and loosely open the foil to release the heat. Let the ribs cool to room temperature, and then cut the ribs individually.
In a large pot filled with water, add the potatoes, garlic, 2 bay leaves and 4 tablespoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are tender. Allow the potatoes to cool in the water. Remove and individually smash each potato like a pancake. Set aside.
Cut the yellow onions in half. In a very hot cast-iron pan, burn the cut side until very black. In a large saucepot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic, shallots, thyme, carrot and 3 bay leaves. Sweat for 25 minutes, deglaze with the fish sauce and white wine and reduce until nearly dry (au sec in French). Add the tomatoes, burned onions and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Add the saffron and continue to cook for 1 hour. Constantly check the seasoning and keep adjusting the salt.
In a large casserole, lay down the spare ribs and pour the tomato stew over them. Place the potatoes throughout and cover with foil. Bake at 375˚F for 45 minutes. Serve family style. Serves 6.
Rochioli 2011 River Block Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $72: To match the richness of the ribs and complexity of the saffron-tomato sauce, look for a velvety smooth, seductive Pinot from the Russian River Valley, like many by Rochioli, Merry Edwards or Kosta Browne. Rochioli’s River Block from the 2011 vintage has the appellation’s classic cola spice and mouth-coating wild cherry notes, with enough brightness and structure to remain interesting over many years.