Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Orange – Soy Braised Country Pork Ribs

Orange – Soy Braised Country Pork Ribs

“No man should be allowed to be President who does not understand hogs.”
President Harry S. Truman
Say no more……

Serves: 4-6

There are a myriad of different cuts of meat and a myriad of terminology to match. Understanding hogs…um, pork, and selecting the correct cut for a braise are key. It would be nice if the nomenclature for meat cuts were the same from animal to animal, and from country to country. Alas, they are not. A standing rib roast (beef) is the same as a rack of lamb is the same as a bone-in pork roast or pork crown roast. Beef short ribs are pretty much the same as pork spare ribs, but don't ask for beef spare ribs because there is no such thing. 

Country-style ribs are not really ribs. They are cut from the front end of the baby backs near the shoulder and a tray of country-style ribs in the grocery store will contain few, if any, ribs. Country-style ribs are more like pork chops, meatier and less fatty than real ribs and are best when cooked slowly in any sort of braise.
Meaty country ribs
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings,
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings."
--Lewis Carroll

This is one tasty and easy braise for the boneless country pork ribs. One could substitute with true ribs: baby back or spare ribs if desired. They can also be braised 5 days ahead, cooled completely in cooking liquid, covered and chilled until ready to heat and serve. To reheat, set the pan on the stove with ribs and cooking liquid over moderate heat, covered, and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Then transfer the ribs to a 200 degree F oven to keep warm while reducing the sauce.
  • 4 pounds country style pork ribs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ C fresh orange juice
  • ½ C low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 1½ Tb finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 Tb chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 325 degree F. Place 1½ C fresh orange juice, ½ C low sodium soy sauce, 2 Tb sugar, 1½ Tb fresh ground ginger, 1 Tb chopped garlic, salt and pepper into a large roasting or braising pan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add 4 pounds country style pork ribs in one layer using tongs, turning to coat.
Ribs ready to braise
 So much of braising depends on trapping the moisture in the pot so it can meld together with the natural juices of the food you are braising. Even with a well fitting lid, I like to reinforce the seal by laying a sheet of parchment paper over the ingredients, pressing down so that paper just touches the food. While a secure lid is important, the addition of parchment paper reduces the headroom in the pot, which helps concentrate the braising juices further. In effect this creates a tight little cycle of evaporation and condensation and bastes the food directly. If you visualized the inside of a pot during braising, you would see vapor rising up from the food, hitting the lid, condensing there, and dripping back down. The further these vapors have to travel, the more dilute they become. With parchment paper directly above the food, you create a tight little cycle of evaporation and condensation.

Cover the pan with parchment and a well-sealed lid – place in your preheated oven until tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the oven, reduce temperature to 200 degree F. Transfer ribs to a baking dish and put back into the cooler oven to keep warm. Skim fat from the braising liquid and then make a glaze by boiling the liquid, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to about ¾ C, about 15 -20 minutes.

Parchment to trap the liquid and flavors
Ribs post-braising
When ready to serve, remove ribs from warmed oven, brush generously with the reduced braising liquid, and serve. They are great served with rice, as I have done, or with mashed potatoes, polenta or on their own. I love serving with a light Pinot Noir or Zinfandel or a Beaujolais or Dry Reisling.
Removed from the liquid and then brushed with reduced braising liquid 
In any case – give these country ribs a try at home for you family and your guests. You will not be disappointed.

Bon Appetit!


When Pigs Fly!

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