country style ribs

January 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

Members of our meat share were the lucky recipients last week of Country Style pork ribs from Maple Lane Farms in Charleston. If you’ve cooked the ribs already we would love to hear what you did with them (email us at freerangefarmtruck@live.com) and if not we hope this little primer will help you to master one of our favorite cuts of pork.

Country Style Ribs come from the loin of the pig.  Strictly speaking, they aren’t ribs at all since they don’t contain an actual rib bone.  What this means for you is that you have all the deliciousness of a pork rib with less bone and more meat.  How can you go wrong? Without a bone to gnaw one you may be more inclined to handle country style ribs with a knife and fork, but we’re certainly not going to discourage eating with your fingers! Yes, they’re that good.

In the Kitchen
Where country style ribs are like other ribs is in the kitchen.  They should be cooked “low and slow”, meaning with a lower heat and for a longer period of time than, say, a pork chop. Many cooking techniques can qualify as low and slow, including roasting, barbecuing (yes, even in the winter) and braising.

Once you’ve tried Country Style Ribs you’ll be hooked and ready to experiment, but for a no nonsense introduction to this cut, stick to braising: browning meat in some fat (olive oil, butter, etc) adding liquid and simmering until the meat is tender.  For Country Style Ribs we found that an hour, give or take, is plenty of time.  Your braising liquid can be just about anything – wine, beer, cider, stock, even thicker sauces like a homemade tomato sauce will work.

Using a cast iron skillet or dutch oven will allow you to cook these ribs on the stove top or in the oven.  If you’re planning to stick to the stove top another pan will be fine.  Whichever you choose, make sure that the pan is deep enough to easily hold about an inch of liquid.

Super Simple Country Style Ribs
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil or butter (or a combination) over medium-high heat. Be careful if using just butter – it burns quickly!
2. Brown the ribs on all sides.  This means standing by the stove and turning them as each side browns.  No walking away.
3. Remove ribs and add one thinly sliced red onion and a few cloves of whole garlic to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are slightly softened.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
4. Place the ribs back in the pan with the onions and garlic and pour in about 3/4 of a cup of beer.  I just poured in half of the beer I happened to be drinking at the time, which was a Peak Organic Nut Brown.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  You want the ribs to simmer, not boil.  Feel free to check on them often to see how the liquid level is doing and to make sure they’re at the right temp.  If the liquid disappears fast, just add more!

I let these ribs cook for about an hour, until the beer had cooked down into a somewhat thick sauce and the pork was very tender. The onions essentially disintegrated which made the sauce even more rich and delicious.

I hesitate to even call this a recipe – it’s more like a choose your own adventure dinner; the appeal is how easy it is to change it around. On another night I braised the ribs in cider (which cooked down faster than beer – I had to add more twice) and am looking forward trying some white wine and herbs. You could cook some potatoes, carrots or turnips along with the ribs or add some chopped kale during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. Be creative and have fun!

If you’d like to try cooking these in the oven just place your cast iron pan or dutch oven into the oven after you’ve browned the ribs and added optional ingredients and cook at 325F until ribs are tender.

There are several cookbooks out there than deal specifically with grassfed and pastured meats.  Our favorites are Shannon Hayes’ two cookbooks, The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook and The Farmer & The Grill.  You can order them HERE.

For online inspiration, check out epicurious.

 

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