Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Spare But Not Skimpy: Chinese Braised Spare Ribs

It's no surprise I would find a package of spare ribs in the freezer that'd been packed in there over a year ago, the very last remnant of Roger the pig. I mean, there are dust bunnies in our house that could be considered "vintage." And there was the time our son finally got tall enough to see the top of the fridge and I caught Dave frantically signalling him to not say anything about the quarter-inch of dust he could see there. The boy couldn't help himself, of course, and my response was to hand him a sponge…funny how he's never remarked on it since.

Montinore Estate's verjus…awesome!

Anyway, back to the spare ribs. When they thawed out I found a teensy bit of freezer burn on one corner, but otherwise they looked fine. After cutting off the little burn and figuring neither the weather outside nor the age of the ribs merited the traditional barbecue treatment, I remembered a dish we'd had recently that featured braised spare ribs.

A little research yielded a few recipes that gave me an idea of ingredients and timing, so I cobbled together what sounded good and what I could fill in with ingredients from the pantry. The brilliant part, if I do say so myself, was substituting verjus for the stock or wine called for in the other recipes. Its mild, slightly vinegary flavor seemed, at least to my mind, to go with that sweet-sour taste I love in Asian dishes.

It turned out to be a door-buster of a dish, the succulent meat not quite falling off the bone, and definitely fit for guests when I make it again (and I definitely will). In fact, if I'm not mistaken, there are some spare ribs from Petunia out in the freezer someplace. I'll just have to dig them out.

Chinese-style Braised Pork Spare Ribs

1 1/4 c. verjus, white wine or rice wine
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c hoisin
6 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 whole dried hot red peppers
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 lb spare ribs
Cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish

Preheat oven to 300°.

Put all ingredients except spare ribs in medium sized Dutch oven over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Add spare ribs and return to a boil. Cover and place in oven for 1 1/2 hrs.

Remove from oven and pour off juices into skillet, leaving ribs in covered pot to stay warm. Bring juices to a boil and reduce by half or until it thickens to a sauce-like consistency. Skim off fat (I used my glass fat separator). Put ribs in serving bowl and pour sauce over top. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

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