Savory Spare Ribs from Brooklyn

West 11th Street, Brooklyn

West 11th Street, Brooklyn

Now I’m getting a little silly with Google maps and their wild way of getting you an image of a particular building. Snapshots from my past appear with a few key strokes (plus my solid memory of addresses!).

The building in the photo above is the first house I ever lived in. It’s on West 11th Street in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. Those two windows on the first floor were my bedroom. It was a railroad apartment…each room right next to the other in a long line. My bedroom, led into my parents’ bedroom, led into the living room/dining room, led into the kitchen and then continued down a long hallway to the bathroom.

My Aunt Mary and Uncle John lived upstairs. They weren’t really my aunt and uncle but that’s how I knew them.  They were friends of my parents — I assume they met because they lived upstairs. But my Aunt Mary became a mentor to my mom (who was a new bride, a new mom) and showed her recipes, gave her tips, and was, in general, there for her.

Mary and John were Sicilian. So the recipes followed suit, but they were also somehow influenced by this New World, this New York, this Brooklyn. Every recipe of Aunt Mary’s is wonderful. And each has lived within my family for years and years and are still reliable favorites.

Here’s her spin on spare ribs or baby back ribs. We made these recently in a cooking class with a menu of  Aunt Mary recipes!

Ribs-Aunt Mary Style

Ribs-Aunt Mary Style

Braised Pork Ribs w Mustard & Brown Sugar

1 rack of baby back ribs or spare ribs, cut into 2-3 bone pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup vinegar, divided

2-3 bay leaves

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

2-3 teaspoons mustard

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Season ribs with salt  & pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Brown ribs until golden on each side. Mix a couple of cups of water with half the vinegar. Pour over ribs and add bay leaves and some hot pepper. Let simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile mix together the remaining brown sugar and vinegar with the garlic and mustard (add a bit more of any of these ingredients if you lean that way). Season with salt & pepper. Lift out ribs from the cooking liquid and transfer to a foil-lined sheet pan. Coat ribs with the sauce. Cover loosely with foil and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until tender. Cut ribs into single pieces, pour any remaining sauce over them and serve.

Ribs-Aunt Mary Style

Ribs-Aunt Mary Style

Deceptively AMAZING!

Here’s my class who are now Aunt Mary Recipe experts (and enjoying all)! We also made Aunt Mary’s Baked Rice w Mushrooms & Celery, and Vanilla Cupcakes w Chocolate-Espresso Icing.

Cooking Class for Aunt Mary Recipes

Cooking Class for Aunt Mary Recipes

Sicilian-Style Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken Sicilian Style

Roasted Chicken Sicilian Style

We also called this chicken “Italian-style” when I was growing up (even tho everything was Italian-style…except for the occasional hot dogs and even Italians like hot dogs). To me it was “chicken with salad dressing.” Don’t get me wrong, I love this recipe, but the ingredients are salad dressing and that’s how I always remembered the recipe: olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic. And there you have it. That’s the recipe. But check out more details below.

My mom recently informed me that it’s not “Italian-style” chicken, but Sicilian-Style since she learned it from her mother-in-law and guess where her mother-in-law (my grandmother) was from? Yes, that’s right. Sicily. (Note: I added the lemon & parsley touch. Wherever I can get flavor and color I take it.)

This chicken is so tasty you’ll likely eat every piece in one sitting. But don’t. Probably not good for your waistline (or mine).

Sicilian-Style Chicken

1 chicken, cut up into 8-10 pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or balsamic

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered

1-2 tablespoons dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lemon, sliced into thin wedges

2-3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, leaves minced, stems discarded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Season chicken pieces with salt & pepper. Place in a roasted pan. Drizzle olive oil, drizzle vinegar, sprinkle with garlic and oregano. Roast for 45minutes-1 hour until an instant read thermometer reads 165 in the thickest part of the thigh. Then turn on broiler and broil for about 2-3 minutes to golden.

Remove pieces to serving platter. Drizzle some of the juices. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve.

I also demo’ed this recipe on WSMV-TV Channel 4 Nashville. Here’s the video segment:

Sicilian Chicken segment on WSMV-TV Channel 4 Nashville

Buon Appetito!