Why It Works
- Affordable country-style pork ribs contain a mix of light and dark meat, resulting in a fork-tender, full-flavored meal.
- An acidic braise containing tomato paste, white wine, and cider vinegar is offset by the sweetness of apple cider.
- Creamy, easy-to-make mashed potatoes soak up the sauce and tie the dish together.
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 as 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 mixer ensures they're smooth and luxurious with no gluiness.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 pounds bone-in, country style pork ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground back pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly diced (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, roughly diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the Potatoes:
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat ribs dry using paper towels and season with salt and pepper. When oil is shimmering, add as many ribs as fit in one layer. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with remaining ribs.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the Dutch oven and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot, celery, and onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it turns a burnished hue, about 2 minutes. Add wine, raise heat to medium-high and scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a spoon. Add vinegar, chicken stock, cider, Dijon, onion powder, bay leaves, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Return pork ribs to the pot and bring to a boil.
Cover and transfer to oven to cook until fork-tender, removing lid during the last half-hour of cooking, about 1 hour and 45 minutes total.
Meanwhile, for the Potatoes: Place potatoes in a medium stockpot. Cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork.
Drain and pass potatoes through ricer or food mill over a large bowl. Add melted butter and half of cream and milk to potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Whip on low speed using a hand mixer until butter, cream and milk are incorporated, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Adjust to desired consistency with more cream and/or milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm until serving.
When meat is done, remove from oven, discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs and skim fat from the top of sauce. Adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve with mashed potatoes, spooning the sauce on top.
This dish can be made a day or two in advance. Time in the refrigerator will allow flavors to deepen and meld. As an added plus, it's easier to discard solidified fat from the top of the sauce when it's cold.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 80g||102%|
|Saturated Fat 38g||191%|
|Total Carbohydrate 68g||25%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||28%|
|Total Sugars 15g|
|Vitamin C 43mg||216%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|