Braised Country Style Pork Ribs

image

This is a Dutch oven dinner.  I have several Dutch ovens in varying sizes and shapes and I love cooking in them.  The cast iron provides perfect even heat, they go from stove top to oven to table, and clean up is pretty easy.  Very often, when we think ribs, we think barbecue.  I do love country style ribs barbecued but this is a good change of pace.  A very homey, cold weather, comfort meal like your mother or grandmother would have put on the table.  And it makes the kitchen smell wonderful when it’s cooking.  One of my Dad’s favorite meals is a boiled dinner and this dish has a lot of the same components.

Ingredients:

2# of country style ribs

2 T canola oil

1 onion rough chopped

2 carrots sliced

2 stalks of celery rough chopped

1/2 head of green cabbage rough chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic sliced

2 T tomato paste

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)

salt and pepper

image

Preheat the oven to 325.

Heat oil in the Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the ribs and brown them on all sides.  Remove them to a platter and set aside.

imageimage

Add the onion, carrots, cabbage and celery to the pan drippings and cook, stirring occasionally, under tender.  About 5 minutes.

image image

Add the garlic and tomato paste.  Stir and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.  Deglaze with 1/4 cup cider vinegar.

imageimage

Stir in the broth, pepper flakes and bay leaves.  Return the ribs to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

image

Remove the lid and cook for 30 more minutes allowing some of the liquid to evaporate and the meat to brown.  The meat is very tender and the broth flavorful.  When you plate this ladle some broth over the meat and vegetables.

I served this with a creamy polenta made with milk, half and half, butter, and asiago cheese.  How can that possibly be bad??

image

image image

My family of origin would not have served this with polenta.  I’m confident most of my family would not even eat polenta.  If you prefer you could serve this with rice, noodles, or potatoes.  Or just serve it with a salad and some good, crusty bread.  I know my dad would choose potatoes.  I’m grateful that my husband eats almost anything I prepare without complaint.  It’s much more enjoyable trying new things when you have a receptive audience.

 

 

Pork Tenderloin

image

Pork tenderloin is one of our favorite pork dishes.  It’s relatively easy to prepare and, when done properly, is extremely tender.  The  small loins I get from my favorite organic market are perfect for the two of us with a little left over.  It tastes awesome cold and thin sliced the next day.  I’m always happy when no one requests additional seasoning or sauce.  None was necessary for this dish.

Ingredients:

Pork loin (mine was a little over one pound)

1 red bell pepper sliced thin

1 sweet yellow onion sliced thin

1 cup baby portabellas rough chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic sliced thin

1 T rosemary

1 T thyme

1 T course ground pepper

1 T course sea salt or kosher salt

2 T olive oil

image

Preheat oven to 325.

Slice onion and pepper and rough chop mushrooms.  Heat 1 T oil in a cast iron pan or dutch oven.  Cook vegetables over medium heat until tender.   About 5 minutes.

image image

Slice garlic cloves.  Combine rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt and mix together.

image image

Add garlic to the other vegetables and cook until fragrant.  Another minute or so.  Remove vegetables to a plate.  Rub the pork loin with the other tablespoon of oil and coat both sides of the loin with the spice mix.  Heat the skillet over high heat and sear the loin on both sides.

image image

Remove the loin from the pan and return the vegetables to the skillet.  Place the loin atop the vegetables and put the pan in the oven.  Heat to 160 degrees.

image

Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.  Slice and serve on top of a generous spoonful of the vegetables.

image

I served the pork loin with potatoes mashed with goat cheese and fresh spinach wilted with garlic and red pepper flakes.  The pork is also excellent served with smashed sweet potatoes.  Enjoy!  We did.

Pork Steaks and Onion Gravy

image

 

One of my favorite memories of dinner at my Grandparents involved pork chops fried in a cast iron skillet with the darkest, richest onion gravy and mashed potatoes. I’m sure the pork chops were organic and locally raised before that even became a thing. My grandfather was a real meat and potatoes guy and this was one of his favorite meals as well. I don’t think the carrots would have made his plate. I remember my grandpa (and my uncle when he visited) eating the fat from all our chops. The fat was fried crispy and I’m sure it was very tasty but the rest of us trimmed it off and passed it down.

Tonight I used pork steaks rather than chops and I marinated them which my grandma would not have done. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate her chops and gravy but to me our dinner had a little taste of nostalgia.

Ingredients:

4 bone-in pork chops or pork steaks

1 cup strong, black coffee

1/4 cup molasses

2 T cider vinegar

2 T Dijon mustard

2-3 garlic cloves sliced

salt and pepper to taste

2 T canola oil

2 T butter

1 large onion rough chopped

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups mushroom or vegetable broth (my grandmother would have used the water from boiling the potatoes)

image

image

Combine coffee, molasses, vinegar, and Dijon in a bowl and whisk together.

image

Slice the garlic cloves and add to the marinade.

image

Set aside 1/2 cup of the marinade. Season the chops or steaks with salt and pepper, put them in a gallon zip lock bag along with the rest of the marinade and seal. Allow the meat to marinate for 1-2 hours occasionally turning the bag.

image

image

Once the meat has marinaded, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat and sear the meat on both sides.

image

Once the meat has been seared on both sides remove it to a platter and add the onion to the drippings in the skillet. Cook the onions over medium heat until they are tender and beginning to brown.

image

Add the butter and the flour to the onions and continue stirring.  Slowly add the broth and the 1/2 cup of marinade continuing to stir until it thickens and you have a nice dark rich gravy.

image

Put the chops back in the gravy, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Serve with smashed potatoes and a vegetable side and enjoy this simple, old fashioned dinner.

image

NOTE:  I cooked my potatoes with the skins on and added a couple whole cloves of garlic to the cooking water. I smashed the potatoes and garlic along with a tablespoon of horseradish for a little extra zip.

Even though, to my knowledge, my grandmother did not marinade meat she would have approved of my use of strong black coffee.  Coffee was almost always the beverage of choice at their house.