So I want to tell you about how I make spareribs and chard and garlicky hash browns. But first, I want to tell you a story.
When I was about 15, I went on a road trip with my dad. It was a Saturday in mid-September, the time of year when the Michigan weather could easily swing anywhere from near 40 to the low 80s. I don’t remember where we were going or why, but I do distinctly recall my mother entering my bedroom and insisting I wear khakis instead of shorts because it was supposed to be chilly that day.
This detail is etched into my brain mainly because I remember subsquesntly bickering with my mom, being at that awkward and snotty age when I refused to take advice from anyone. I did wear pants. But it was TOTALLY my decision.
Anyway the second key fact here is that we didn’t stop the car until we reached our eventual destination about five hours later. No lunch, no potty break, no getting out to “stretch our legs.” I knew this because he had bragged about gassing up the 81 Horizon the previous evening, which would enable a stop-free trip.
2. No stopping
Here is the point of the story. Do you ever just loose track of vast swaths of time and then suddenly become acutely self-aware? It sometimes happens to me on longer jogs, when I will just zone out and then realize I’ve made it two miles. Well I had that kind of moment.
I’ll preface this by declaring that I harbor no beliefs about life beyond our solar system. None. I don’t want to talk about little green men and the relative likelihood of being visited, abducted and/or probed. Really, I’m just telling you what happened to me.
Again, I had one of those moments. On a car trip where we didn’t stop and on a day which began with sartorial counseling from my mother.
I look down. And I’m wearing SHORTS. Not the pants I put on that morning.
And we hadn’t stopped the car.
The moral of this story is, for whatever reason. Sometimes you just… loose track of time Alien (forgive the term) forces seem to just separate our minds from our bodies, rendering us not responsible for our actions.
And this is what happened with the ribs. I was just standing there in my kitchen, and the next thing I knew I had a big plate of succulent, falling off the bone pork product. With side dishes no less. And no idea how it came to be. It was if my mind had been removed from my body for a few hours.
So last night I had to reverse engineer my dinner.
When cooking ribs at home, I prefer spareribs to babybacks. They have less meat per pound, but the more bones, fat, and connective tissue render the final product that much more moist and intense.
I use a straightforward three-step method. I first season the ribs and allow them to come to room temperature I then cook them low and slow in an enclosed pouch of parchment paper. Lastly, I quickly apply very high heat either over a charcoal grill, in a cast iron skillet, or under a broiler. If I chose the broiler method, I apply a glaze consisting of reduced “rib juice,” along with a bit of Bourbon.
Spice Rub. (In my version 1 part = 1/4 teaspoon)
8 parts kosher salt
4 parts brown sugar
4 parts garlic powder
2 parts paprika or pimenton
1 parts chili powder
1 parts dried herbs (thyme or oregano)
2 8oz (about 3 bones each) portions of pork spare ribs.
Liberally apply your spice rib to all sides of the ribs. Place the ribs on a plate, covered with plastic wrap, until the ribs reach cool room temperature.
Preaheat your oven to 225.
Wrap each piece of meat in its own large piece of parchment paper. I place the rib in the center of the parchment, fold the left and right ends over, then fold top to bottom.
Place the rib pouches on a cookies sheet and place in the oven. Cook for an hour, flip the pouches, and cook for another hour.
At this point, check the ribs. Open the parchment (very gingerly, as there will be some liquid) and twist the rib bone. There should be considerable give. There will be other cues for doneness: the meat will have retreated from around the bone tip, and, if you want to use a thermometer, the temperature should be around 165.
But after two hours, the meat should be cooked.
If the ribs have cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and allow to rest. Meanwhile. Either turn on your skillet or fire up your broiler.
Now, the optional step here is to create a glaze. If you choose to do this, drain the liquid from your rib pouches into a small saucepan. Add Bourbon if desired. Reduce until the liquid is thick. Apply this liquid to the ribs, and finish under the broiler.
Or, just sear the ribs for a second over the skillet, or use the broiler.
I admit this final step is not strictly neccecary. But the higher heat will carmelize some of the natural sugars on the surface of the meat and will definately improve the texture. But, again, up to you.
These were so good. Almost as good as my “alien” ones.