Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tight-Arse Tuesdays: Ribs!

Maybe I'm just Southern, but I love ribs. I don't do pig, but beef ribs and buffalo ribs feature in our house on a regular basis, and why not? They're flavorful, easy to cook, extremely filling, and very cheap - usually the cheapest meat on the animal!

They have a reputation for being hard to make, which is completely undeserved. They're time-intensive, sure, but almost all of that time is passive time. In my opinion, the best way to cook ribs is by braising them. Since they're such a fatty cut, all they need is some liquid and time to really bring out all that nice beefy flavor and soften them up a bit. And that takes next to nothing out of you! You get to serve up a delicious old-fashioned dinner that looks like you spent all evening on it, but really you were soaking in a bubble bath while time did the work. Ssh. I won't tell.

Here's a one-dish meal recipe that is super, super flexible. Add a salad if you want (I did). I didn't measure most of this so I'm not putting measurements here - just try a little bit of this and that. Feel free to substitute other root vegetables, or add some sturdy greens like kale or collards when you add the other veg.


Beef Ribs (about ¾ lb per person; the bone weighs it down)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Handful of mushrooms (dried is fine)
Spoonful of tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, halved
Chili powder (chipotle if you have it)
Fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Onion, chopped
Potatoes, diced
Carrots, sliced thick
1 Tbsp corn starch, potato starch, or arrowroot powder

Heat some water to boiling.

Heat the olive oil in a sturdy pot with a lid (use your cast-iron Dutch oven here if you have one). Brown the ribs, then pour in enough boiling water to mostly cover them. It's okay if the tips curve out of the water. And be careful doing this, since it's going to send up a huge steam cloud.

Throw in the mushrooms, and everything else but the veggies and starch/arrowroot. Give it a quick stir, then cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for an hour if you've only got a couple of ribs in there, or 90 minutes if you have several. Meanwhile, pour a glass of wine and retire to a bubble bath.

When the timer goes off, have your husband, older child, or the next-door neighbor add the veggies to the pot and put the cover back on. They can add some more water if there's not enough to almost cover the veggies and meat. Sip your wine, finish your bath, and go slip into something comfy.

20 minutes after the veggies were added, remove them with a slotted spoon, along with the meat. Discard the mushrooms if they were dried (they will be tough, but they'll have flavored the broth nicely). Turn the heat all the way up on the liquid left in the pot, and dissolve the starch or arrowroot in a little bit of water. Stir that into the remaining liquid; let it boil for a minute until it thickens slightly. Spoon this sauce over the ribs and veggies. Serve immediately.

And don't forget to save the rib bones for later! They add excellent flavor to soups, stews, and beans. Unless you have a dog, of course, in which case rib night is fun for the whole family.

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