In an extra-large skillet, heat two tablespoons of oil on high and brown the ribs in it on all sides, for about 15 minutes. (If all the ribs won't fit in your pan, you might want to use two skillets, with a tablespoon of oil in each.)
While the ribs are browning, peel the half onion and chop it. In a large (8-quart) pot, heat two tablespoons of oil on medium high heat and add the onions. While they are cooking (stir them occasionally), peel and chop your garlic. When the onions are just about tender, stir in the garlic to the pot with the onions.
Transfer the browned ribs to the pot, along with some of the oil from the skillet. Add your cans of tomatoes. Use a potato masher to gently smash the whole tomatoes.
Stir in the salt, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. When the pot comes to a boil, put the heat on low to let it simmer gently. Prop a lid over the pot, using a wooden spoon resting on the edge of the pot to keep the lid open just a bit. Let the sauce cook for at least 2 ½ hours, stirring it occasionally to prevent sticking. (Wait at least an hour into the process before tasting the sauce, so you're not consuming raw meat.)
The sauce needs to cook until the ribs are fork tender. This may take around 2 hours and 45 minutes. When the ribs are almost tender, place a pasta pot with salted water on to boil and cook your pasta so that it should be ready for when the sauce is done. When you can easily insert and remove a fork from the meat, your meat and sauce are done. Stir in the fresh basil, and taste to see if the sauce and meat are to your liking.
Serve the sauce spooned over pasta, and keep the ribs covered at the table so they can be eaten as a second dish. Or, each person can add a rib to his or her pasta, if desired. The sauce also can be used on pizza.
Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator for up to four days, or freeze it.
Bone-in country ribs provide better flavor than boneless.I don't recommend making this recipe in the slow cooker, because it will overflow and be too runny.