Monday, October 20, 2008

Substituting and adapting: Country ribs a new way

I have long made country ribs in the oven covered with a thick, rich, spicy sauce from a recipe in an old The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. YUM! But when I read a new recipe for Sweet 'n' Spicy Country Ribs in Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious Sept./Oct. 2008, I decided to try it. I had everything for the recipe except apple juice. I could've bought it but I already had apple cider so I decided to use that instead. It caused no problem as far as I could tell. The big change I made was in the preparation method. The recipe is for the grill. I have no desire to fire up the charcoal grill, especially on a day when my house could use the warming from the oven. I have a cast-iron grill pan but no desire to cook two ribs at a time for 45 minutes per batch. So instead I used the grill pan at an extremely high heat to sear each rib and get sexy grill marks, then I finished the meat off in the oven. Oven roasting is the method used in my preferred recipe, which follows.

I think I still prefer the saucy recipe for country ribs I've made for years. But this is a good treatment for meat that would wind up cold sliced on a sandwich.

Finding the right accompaniment for these ribs was troublesome. I like cole slaw but I'm the only one in the house. I like sauerkraut but again I'm in the minority. I settled on something I modified from an Everyday with Rachael Ray recipe. I would like to make that recipe the right way some day. But this time I substituted frozen hash brown potatoes for the fresh potato, reduced the number of eggs, omitted the bacon, used half and half instead of whole cream and replaced the caraway seed with anise seed, which I already had. I just wish I had remembered to grease the casserole dish, as I didn't use a pie crust. It was still tasty, but didn't hit the spot like I'd hoped. RaeRay's original recipe follows, too.

adapted from Simple & Delicious magazine
3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cola
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 to 4 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs

In a small bowl, combine the apple juice, oil, cola, brown sugar, honey, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Liquid Smoke and seasonings. Pour 1 1/2 cups marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add the ribs. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight, turning once. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.

Coat grill pan with cooking oil. Get it really hot. Drain the ribs and discard the marinade. Sear every side of the ribs, working in batches. Put the meat in a baking pan and cover with foil. Roast at 350 for two hours or until fork tender.

The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook
6 pounds pork ribs
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 tablespoon grated onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder

Arrange ribs in a large open roasting pan in one layer. Roast at 325 for 1 1/2 hours or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: In bowl, mix tomato paste with remaining ingredients.

During the last 30 minutes of roasting time, brush ribs frequently with glaze.

I usually serve this with cheesy scalloped potatoes.

Every Day With Rachael Ray October 2008
1 cup sauerkraut, squeezed dry
2 baking potatoes (about 1 pound) -- peeled, grated and squeezed dry
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
Salt and pepper
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 9-inch frozen pie shell

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine the sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon and caraway seeds, season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and cream. Stir into the potato mixture. Pour the potato mixture into the pie shell, transfer to a baking pan. Bake until the filling has set and is golden around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: I have heard, and had some success with this, that you can use a salad spinner to wring the water from thawed chopped spinach, sauerkraut and potatoes, etc. I didn't try it this time but I bet it would work all right.

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