Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ribs and Slaw

I've been craving summer. I've been craving the beach, long walks with Zepp (who is really not enjoying leash-training at all; if only I could convey to him how much fun we'll have once he decides to behave himself on it), and most importantly, barbecues. Dinner-party barbecues. Our friends, blenders full of margaritas, chicken, ribs, burgers... name it. I'll grill it.

But, this is still a few months away. To satisfy this end-of-winter longing, I turned to my oven.


 Next time I would buy a different cut of ribs. I bought country-style pork loin ribs and while they were delicious, they were very fatty and probably would have done better cooked in a thick sauce instead of just braised in their own liquids. Dan also thought they tasted too much like dark meat, which he dislikes - and he was right, they did have a heavier meat flavor than your standard pork rib. Lessons learned.

I coated them in my pretty much all-purpose searing rub. I didn't sear them, though, I just threw two each into little aluminum foil packets where they would spend the next two hours or so in the oven.

Foil-wrapped ribs always reminds me of the summer I worked at the county fair taking orders for a barbecue place. I wish I could tell you how much fun I had and about the best friends I made forever. But, if I took you to this fair, I might take you to eat their ribs (which are, I will grudgingly admit,  good), but I will also tell you how everyone there was mean to me for no reason and if there was another spot at the fair to get ribs, we would go there. I will be lady, and not mention any names.


But, grudges aside... foil-wrapped ribs specifically remind me of one particular customer who came to the counter one afternoon and asked me if our ribs were fresh.

"They are fresh, we cook them here everyday."

"Can I see them? I don't want them unless they're fresh."

I had to get my manager to show him the ribs because I was only taking orders and was not supposed to touch the food. My manager held up a foil-wrapped packet of ribs because that was how they were served up - this was done with obvious sass. I smiled at my customer, letting him know that we were in this together. He leaned over the counter towards me with a smile on his face, ready to share some kind of intimate, barbecue wisdom with me and said, "That looked a lot like tin foil to me."

That was eight years ago. That man made some impression on me.

When I unwrapped my ribs to let them bake for another five minutes per side - when they really develop that nice, crispy exterior - I thought of how I would have shown him one of these ribs. Juicy and succulent, but crisp and spicy on the outside. No tinfoil. Just meat.


I also can't let you leave without a tangy slaw recipe to serve extra cold alongside those spicy ribs (whip it up the night before!). To give your palate a break between the tang of the slaw and the spice of the ribs, just roast some potatoes alongside the ribs in their own aluminum foil packet - throw in a tablespoon of butter and 3-5 cloves of coarsely chopped garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper and by the time the ribs are done, the potatoes will be soft and full of garlic and butter. Give them a little more salt when they're done and they are the perfect accompaniment to a very flavorful plate.


(I had four ribs, so I did two to an aluminum foil pack, you might need more if you're making a bigger quantity.)

1 package country style pork loin ribs (or any other cut of ribs)
1 Tbs. olive oil, divided
Generous, to taste spices:
Mexican chili powder
Garlic Powder
Pinch cayenne

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack positioned in the middle.
  • Pat ribs dry with paper towel.
  • Generously apply the spices.
  • On two sheets of aluminum foil, put 1/2 Tbs olive oil and spread with fingers.
  • Tightly seal the ribs inside the foil.
  • Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 2-2.5 hours.
  • Unwrap the ribs and place them on the baking sheet without the aluminum foil to crisp the outside. Five minutes per side.
  • Remove from oven. Let stand five minutes.

Should be made one day ahead for maximum flavor marriage. You could probably also make it the morning of also. It comes together in about ten minutes.
1/2 cabbage, halved and sliced, core removed
2 carrots, peeled and shredded with peeler
1/2 onion, halved and sliced as thin as possible
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 lime, juiced
1 Tbs mayonnaise
handful dried chives (or fresh equivalent)
salt and pepper to taste

  • In big bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, and onion together.
  • In a large glass measuring cup, combing the oil, vinegar, garlic, lime, mayonnaise, chives, and salt and pepper.
  • Add the dressing to the vegetables, toss to coat.
  • Refrigerate over night.

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