Culinary Sagacity

~Thought for Food~

The Cathayans believed that the soul or mind is located not in the head but in the stomach.

Doubtless this explains why they fret so much about the preparation and serving of food.

It may also explain why their memories are so much better than ours.

Information is stored not in the finite head, but in the expandable stomach.

--Cyrus Spitama in Gore Vidal's Creation

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Yummiest, Juiciest, Easiest BBQ Pork Ribs Ever

I must give credit where credit is due. This recipe for Pork Ribs is my version of a recipe I got years ago from Executive Chef Derek Emerson, owner of Walker's Drive-In in Jackson, Mississippi. I haven't changed the fundamental techniques, I've just given it my own personal twists, which means that you can add your own personal flare to it as well, and still have the same, excellent results. These pork ribs are sooo good that I have had both a vegetarian and a Jewish friend who doesn't eat pork both break down and eat them. They just couldn't stand hearing all the "YUM"s, and "Oh"s all around and not try them!

This recipe is super easy, and though it takes some time, it's not a lot of active time. Because of the technique, you can make the ribs well in advance of your guests arriving and simply finish them off without any hassle. You can take the rib recipe for itself, but I've also shared how you can turn your ribs into an entire meal out of the same pot, and that's always a beautiful thing.

What you'll need:

Organic Pork Ribs (Berkshire and Niman Ranch Pork are my faves, one full rack of St. Louis Style ribs serves two people, look for the most marbled ribs you can find)
3 Medium Yellow Onions, roughly chopped
2 Large Carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
3 Celery Ribs, roughly chopped
2 Granny Smith Apples, washed (in warm water if they're covered in wax), halved
Whole Black Peppercorns
Whole Juniper Berries
Fresh Rosemary and Thyme
BBQ Sauce (my fave for this particular recipe is "Bone Suckin' Sauce")

In a large stock pot, bring the vegetables, apples, peppercorns, and juniper berries just to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-high for a strong simmer and allow the liquid to reduce for about 2 hours. In the last half hour, add the rosemary and thyme.

You can use whatever vegetables you like, just don't skip the onions and carrots, or the apples and thyme. Like with any vegetable stock, you can use leeks, scallions, garlic, parsley—just be sure the flavors you choose will go well with pork. Choosing your ingredients is how to make this recipe your own!

When you have a flavorful liquid, add some coarse Kosher salt to the pot then add the rack(s) of ribs to the water. On medium-high heat, simmer the ribs for about 45 minutes, skimming the muck off the top of the liquid. The ribs will be cooked through completely, but leave them in the pot until you've finished your BBQ sauce, or for as long as you need, turning the heat down to the very lowest setting.

After cooking the ribs for about 30 minutes, take about one cup of the liquid from the stock pot and put it into a small saucepan. On high heat, reduce this liquid by about half. Then whisk in the BBQ sauce. Leave this sauce on low heat until ready to use.

As it's BBQ time of year, most of you will want to finish the ribs off on the grill. But if you live on the East Coast like me, it rains a fair bit in the summer, so you can also finish the ribs off in a broiler whenever the weather isn't being cooperative with your plans.

Have the BBQ or broiler all ready to go on high heat. Remove the ribs from the stock pot and place them on a large dish or jelly roll pan for preparation. If you're using the broiler instead of the BBQ, line your jelly-roll pan with heavy duty aluminum foil before placing the ribs on it.

Generously smother the ribs with your prepared BBQ sauce, immediately (if they sit out, they dry out). If grilling, place them bone-side down on the grill first, turning once, finishing up with the meat-side down. If broiling, broil the bone-side up first, then flip the ribs to broil the meat side. Whether in the broiler or on the grill, slather on more of your BBQ sauce when you flip the ribs. Remember, your ribs are already cooked through, you're just grilling / broiling them to get a nice, flavorful char on the meat.

Every summer I save the liquid each time I make these ribs. I freeze it, labeling it "pork stock," and I add the frozen stock to the liquid every time I make ribs.

If you would like to make an entire meal out of this single pot, you'll also need:

Small Potatoes (washed, unpeeled, left whole)
Corn on the Cob (husks and silk removed) or Artichokes (trimmed and cleaned)
Dental Floss

Small, whole potatoes, about 2" in diameter, will take about 20-25 minutes to cook. Add them to your pot after the ribs have been in for about ½ hour, and cook them until they slide easily off of a paring knife inserted in the middle. You can leave the potatoes whole for serving, or you can turn them into mashed potatoes (but then you'd have to use another pot). When I leave the potatoes whole for serving, I put some of the stock in a gravy boat so my guests can pour a bit over their potatoes if they like.

Corn on the cob only takes about 3-5 minutes to cook in boiling water. When you take your ribs out of the pot to put them in the broiler, turn the heat back up to high on the stock pot, and add the corn when you flip the ribs. To check the corn for doneness, pull one out of the water with tongs and pierce one kernel with the tip of a pairing knife or one fork prong. If the kernel squirts out some juice when pierced, your corn is done.

My thanks to Chef Derek Emerson for this recipe! He shared it with me ages ago, and it's still the best easy rib recipe I know. Hope you feel the same too!

1 comment:

  1. Everyone knows the best bbq is in the south. Yankee! go down south!