Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tangy Oven Spare Ribs and a bitter Steelers loss

This one was a long standing request from my ichiban lady.  I made it once last year and it was fantastic... coincidentally, I made it on the day of the Super Bowl when the Saints upset the Colts.  Naturally, I decided to make it this year when the Saints played (and beat, and more or less embarassed) my beloved Steelers.  I'm dumb.  These ribs are great but I won't be making that mistake again, because obviously me making these ribs in central North Carolina has some sort of supernatural effect on the Saints defense.  Somehow it makes them good, when they're really pretty bad the other 15+ weeks of the season (jab!).

Anyway, back on topic.  These ribs are oven baked for 2ish hours in a homemade barbecue sauce of sorts.  I got the recipe from Epicurious, where all great recipes come from, but of course I had to mess with it because I can't leave good enough alone.  The recipe calls for boiling the ribs prior to putting them in the oven, but I opted for a rub and a short cure, followed by searing and then braising in the sauce.  The ribs are fantastic, fall off the bone tender, and they get even better the next day - as most braises do.

Before we get into the recipe, check this out.  I've never seen brussel sprouts on the stalk before, much less been able to buy them.  Very cool and very pretty.  I hope I can find these guys all winter.

So, the recipe.  I hate this name, but the Epicurious recipe calls them "Saucy Country-Style Oven Ribs"
4 lb pork spare ribs
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp brown sugar
pinch fresh nutmeg 
1 tbsp salt
pinch cayenne (or more if you're feeling SAUCY)
1 tsp ground black pepper

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp crushed/minced garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons drained bottled horseradish
1 teaspoon black pepper

Start by deciding what you're going to cook the ribs in.  If you have a dutch oven that can hold everything and go in the oven, all the better.  Otherwise you can use a long lasagna pan or some other deep dish to bake in.  Cut the ribs so that they all will fit in your cooking and baking vessels.  Mix all the rub ingredients and blend it well.  Rub it all over the pork with your bare hands.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let the rub do some work.

When you are ready to start, preheat the oven to 350 and get a big pan or pot on the stove heating up on med-hi.  Add a couple of tbsp of vegetable oil and, when hot, sear the ribs one at a time.  Don't overcrowd the pot.  Sear until brown, flip, set aside and start the next ones.  When they are done, keep them to the side and add the onions to the pot with a little salt.  When they start sweating, try to scrape up fond bits from the bottom of the pot and incorporate them into the onions.  When the onions start to turn translucent, add the garlic and let it go for a couple of minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan well to get all the flavor bits up.

Sauce right after adding all of the ingredients
Let the sauce come to a simmer and reduce for 10-ish minutes.  Add the ribs and try to arrange them so that they are all covered or submerged.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.

45 minutes in...
At the 45 minute mark, rearrange the ribs so that they all get even cooking time and bake for at least another 45 minutes or more.  

The sauce will be pretty greasy at first because of all the fat in the ribs. Spoon as much of it off as you can, or if you have a seperator, get on it!  At this point you can do one of two things - leave it as-is for a chunkier style sauce, or blend it for a smooth barbecue sauce.  I was lazy so I left it as-is. I minced up the onion and garlic fine enough that they were pretty well incorporated anyway.

We served with the sprouts and Bourdain's gratin dauphinois, which is another posting all of its own (shit is good).  This recipe is really quite easy and tastes amazing, especially for ribs that never even saw a grill!

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