Country Style Ribs...Big Pork Chops
On Saturdays, I go to the Ardmore Farmer's Market to shop with my buddy, Barbecue Bob. I typically pick up some pork product at Stoltzfus Meats because they have the freshest pork around.
This weekend I picked up some Country Style ribs that were described to me as "big pork chops that have been cut in half so they look like ribs." They were meaty, about 1 pound each.
I noticed from the cover of my June/July edition of Fine Cooking they were talking about a new way of grilling called "Sear, Braise & Glaze". I've been reading about this technique lately in some other cooking articles.
Basically you sear the meat on the grill, braise it in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and finish it on the grill as a barbecue.
There are many advantages to this somewhat new cooking technique and a couple of disadvantages but I'll write about all of them another time. For now I want to tell you how I used their recipe to braise the country style ribs in my outdoor wood burning oven for some pretty good ribs and show you how you can braise them in your oven.
Country Style Ribs - What Are They?
These ribs are really not ribs at all but pork chops cut from the blade (think shoulder) end of the loin that are then butterflied so they look like a big, meaty ribs.
There is enough fat on them so they can be braised or slow cooked barbecue style on the grill. Cuts with less fat would just get tough during a braise and are better suited to shorter, higher heat dry cooking methods.
These aren't your pick up with your fingers type of ribs that you may be used to. You more or less need a knife and fork, and if you braise them, be sure to have your spoon ready. The sauce from the braising liquids is incredible.
Did I mention they are not that expensive? I think I paid under $5.00 per pound.
Dry Rub & Braising Liquid
Basically I followed Fine Cooking's recipe for the rub, and it was very tasty. I encourage you, however, to come up with your own brand of rubs by experimenting with different ingredients.
If you look at 100 cookbooks that have rib rub recipes, you are going to find many with similar ingredients, but they will all be a little different. I typically go with what I like and what I have on hand.
One of the key ingredients for the braise is beer. You may remember my post called Bert's Barbecue Baby Back Ribs.
This is one of my favorite and quickest ways to make barbecued ribs in a hurry by starting them in the oven and finishing them on the grill. Bert's recipe also calls for a bottle of beer.
Braised Country Style Ribs with Orzo & Sautéed Broccoli Rabe
I personally like Jim Tarantino'sMarinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures & Glazes as a source for anything to do with barbecue. Jim is a master at this and his cookbook provides more suggestions and ideas than most of us will ever need.
Also, one of my favorite books on meat, Bruce Aidell and Denis Kelly's The Complete Meat Cookbook is a valuable source for everything having to do with cooking meat as well as suggestions for rubs. It turns out this recipe I'm working with was written for Fine Cooking by Bruce Aidell.
Braised Country Style Ribs Recipe
For the Rub
For the Braising Liquid
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 12 ounces beer stout or dark lager
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 3 drops Asian hot sauce for a little kick - optional
For the Rub
- You'll want to cover the ribs with the rub and let sit for a minimum of a couple of hours up to overnight. I used a large stainless steel utility bowl to mix all the rub ingredients and one at a time added a rib to cover.Be sure to knock off any excess rub off the rib before starting the next. After each one was covered, I placed them into a large Ziploc bag and stuck the bag in the refrigerator.
- The Fine Cooking recipe calls for searing the ribs on your grill, then braising them in a heavy duty pot on the cooler part of your grill for indirect heating. You then finish the ribs using direct heat over medium-low heat. This is a great method and one I can't wait to try, but since I was firing up the wood burning oven to make pizza for friends, I wanted to take advantage of the residual oven heat to slow cook (braise) the ribs overnight at a constant 200° F.
- So I browned the ribs in the house on my stove top in a large fry pan. In fact, I did all the prep in a large fry pan and then transferred everything to a large Dutch oven that was used for braising the ribs overnight. One of the advantages of doing everything on the grill, especially during a hot summer is keeping some of the heat out of the house. I suppose I could have seared and prepped the other ingredients in a sauce pan in the hot wood burning oven, but it is easier to control on a stove top. I could have also used my grill to brown the meat and prepare the other ingredients.
Browning the Ribs
- I heated up the pan before browning the meat. I also didn't use any oil. When the meat starts browning and forming a caramelized crust, you turn it. It takes about 4 minutes to brown each piece and I worked in batches of two.
For the Braising Liquid
- When all the ribs were browned, removed and reserved on a plate, I deglazed the pan with half of the cider vinegar being sure to scrape up any of the little pieces of meat (fond) stuck to the pan. I immediately added the bacon and let it cook over medium heat until it began to crisp.
- Next, I added the onions and cooked for 6 - 8 minutes until they began to soften.
- Next, I added the garlic and carrots and continued cooking for a couple of minutes. Once the aromatics were softened, I added the chicken stock, beer, bay leaves, caraway seeds and the rest of the vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon so I wouldn't lose any of the fond. I brought everything up to a boil, then lowered the heat and simmered for about 12 minutes.
- I started this in a fry pan and transferred everything to a Dutch oven. Not sure why, but If I were to do this again, I would skip the fry pan and do everything in the Dutch oven. Less clean up and just as effective.
- Preheat the oven to 300° F.
- After the braising liquid simmers, remove from heat and add the reserved ribs back into the liquid and cover. When I was done making pizza and the oven cooled off a little, I placed the Dutch oven into the wood burning oven, covered the front entry way and let it cook all night at about 200° F.
- Since you probably won't be cooking the ribs outside in a wood burning oven, place the Dutch oven into the preheated oven and cook for about 2 hours until they are fork tender. Give them a turn after the first 45 minutes of cooking. When they are fork tender, follow my Next Day steps below.
The Next Day
- In the morning, I removed the Dutch oven from the wood burning oven. In the kitchen I removed the cover and, wow! The aroma that hit me was amazing. Remove all the meat and reserve in a container with a lid or zip lock bag.
- And yes, the meat does fall apart. You will be tempted to enjoy the ribs for breakfast but you may want to wait and serve them for dinner. With all the meat removed, strain the sauce through a fine meshed strainer using the back of a spoon to push all the liquid into another container. I used a plastic take-out food container with a lid.
- Since I wasn't serving this meal until dinner, I put the ribs and sauce into the refrigerator. By the time I was ready to serve, the fat separated from the rest of the sauce and sat at the top of the container. I used a spoon to scrape out the fat leaving me with an incredibly flavorful sauce.
- Use the sauce to reheat the meat and serve with your side dishes. I served sauteed broccoli rabe and orzo.