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An inexpensive cut that lends itself to slow cooking, country-style pork ribs are something I often overlook. Cut from the front end of the baby backs near the shoulder, they're not really ribs at all. Depending on how they're packaged, you may find a T-shaped shoulder blade bone in the center and a fair amount of fat and gristle or small rib sections with lean loin meat. Meant for knife-and-fork eating, they vary in size and are not as fatty as ribs—but not as lean and pork chops. Typically, two per person is an adequate portion.
Containing a mix of light and dark meat, country-style pork ribs braise well, yielding tender meat that both flavors and absorbs the liquid they cook in. With that in mind, I built mine from rustically cut nubs of carrot, celery, onion and garlic, along with some tomato paste, all cooked in the same Dutch oven I used to brown the pork. Then, I deglazed the pan with white wine, cider vinegar, chicken stock, and apple cider spiked with Dijon mustard and aromatics. Pork and apples are just such a natural combination in the fall.
After a time spent in a low oven, I serve the whole shebang over creamy mashed potatoes.
Don't be tempted to get boneless country ribs—you need the bones to create a rich, hearty sauce. Although the amount of vinegar in the dish may seem intense, it mellows out and gives the dish the subtle punch it needs.
For the potatoes, you want to use Yukon Gold for these, plus a fair amount of liquid and a whole stick of butter. The goal is to get something rich and ultra-creamy to soak up the sauce. Using a ricer and following with a quick whip with a hand-held mixer ensures they're smooth and luxurious with no gluiness.
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