World's best Jewish pork rib recipe
Oy! I'm just as stumped as you.
Where my lovely Jewish grandmother learned to cooked such wonderful pork ribs is beyond me. All I know is that this dish was one of my favourite meals as a kid, especially when it was served with a big bowl of Caesar salad.
As the holidays approached and winter set in, I found myself thinking back to precisely these dishes, the comfort food of my youth, so I called my grandmother and asked her for the recipes. Then I waited. And waited. Finally, with "The Great Turkey Burden" of Christmas now history, I could turn my focus to the ribs I'd been craving for weeks.
The recipe is simplicity itself:
4 lbs side or baby back ribs, cut every third rib
Place ribs in cold water, bring water to a boil. When water is boiling, continue for another three minutes, then move ribs to a dutch oven or slow cooker. Add the rib sauce (recipe follows) and cook over low heat until they reach desired tenderness, approximately three hours.
Grandma's rib sauce (can be doubled)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 small onion, quartered
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 garlic clove, quartered
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp tarragon
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp marjoram
I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about these ribs. Certain childhood staples are special not because they taste exceptionally good, but because they were eaten in a context that was particularly happy or comforting. My fear then, as foolish as it may seem, is not really about the quality of the ribs, but of tarnishing my fondness for a sliver of my past. Nostalgia aside, I also recognize that my tastes really have changed: McCain frozen pizzas or KD -- two foods that used to make me frantic with anticipation -- now make the bastard food snob in me cringe.
Somehow, someway, I managed to cast my worries aside and make these ribs (reader, are you moved by bravery?) with the support of my wife and two friends, Dave and Ryan. I did make a couple of minor modifications: I used baby back ribs, doubled the amount of sauce, and omitted the raisins. The general consensus was positive: the ribs were wonderfully tender, and the rib sauce was tasty enough that we were pouring it on our mashed potatoes as gravy. That said, the next time I make this recipe I'm going to reduce the brown sugar by a third (I found the sauce a little too sweet) and I'm going to add some chili flakes or hot sauce to give the sauce a little kick.
After the ribs and mashed potatoes we ate one of the tastiest desserts I've eaten in a long while, Regan Daley's Sticky Spiked Double-Apple Cake with a Brown Sugar Brandy Sauce (what a mouthful!). It was a perfect accompaniment to the belly-warming, mid-winter meal, and it filled my friend's apartment with the mouthwatering and heartwarming smells of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and caramelized sugar. The cake is thick, moist, and erupting with apples. The brandy sauce is very sweet, but it perfectly compliments the cake, and would make a wonderful accompaniment to ice cream or bread pudding. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it, other bloggers have raved about it too (check out The Scent of Green Bananas).
I'm sorely tempted to wax poetic about Daley's essential cookbook, In the Sweet Kitchen, but I think it deserves its own post.
You know, I think this turned out to be my best meal of the holidays. The food was superb and the company was ideal. I guess the ribs lived up to the nostalgic hype after all.