Deviled Country-Style Pork Ribs
My assistant, Nancy Loseke, was born and raised in Iowa. When I asked her to contribute a rib recipe to this book, she responded with one inspired by the breaded pork chops she remembers her grandmother making for Sunday family dinners. Her grandmother was born in 1898 and lived on a farm in Iowa her whole life. “I can say with certainty there was no Dijon mustard in her pantry, no shallots in the root cellar, no Marsala on the sideboard,” says Nancy. “There were few spices in her cupboard, but she could do amazing things with table salt and an orange can of Watkins pepper that was a fixture on the back of her stove. She was a great but simple cook who passed away before pork became ’the other white meat.’ In spirit, I know she’d stand cheek by jowl with the farmers—many of them Iowans—who are bringing back heritage breeds of pork like Berkshire. She’d want her pork to taste like it used to taste.”
Country-style ribs come both bone-in and boneless. Either way you’ll need about 2 pounds. When the National Pork Board compared different breeds of pork, it gave top marks to Berkshire pigs in nineteen out of twenty categories. But the meat is expensive, and you’re unlikely to see it at your local supermarket. You can order Berkshire and other purebred pork from retailers like Berkshire Meats, Inc.; you’ll need to ask specifically for country-style ribs (www.berkshiremeats.com).
The foolproof method for cooking ribs, indirect grilling is easy to do, utterly reliable, and practiced by millions of American grill masters. You can grill using the indirect method on a gas or a charcoal grill, and if you add wood chips or chunks to the fire, the process becomes smoke roasting (see below).
To set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling, light charcoal in a chimney starter. Dump or rake the lit coals into two mounds on opposite sides of the grill. Place an aluminum foil drip pan in the center under the grate. You’ll grill the ribs on the grate that’s over the drip pan, away from the heat, making sure to cover the grill. Any time you grill for longer than one hour, you’ll need to replenish the coals. You can do this by lighting fresh charcoal in a chimney starter.
To set up a gas grill for indirect grilling, if your grill has two burners, set one burner to the temperature you want. Place the ribs over the other, unlit burner and cover the grill. You’ll need to rotate the ribs several times, so they cook evenly. On a three-burner gas grill, set the outside or front and rear burners to the desired temperature. Cook the ribs over the center, unlit burner, with the grill covered. To use the indirect grill method on a four- or six-burner gas grill, set the outside burners on the temperature you need. Cook the ribs over the center, unlit burners, covering the grill.
Cooking Methodbrining, grilling
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Equipmentfood processor, grill
Taste and Texturebuttery, crisp, garlicky, juicy, meaty, salty, savory, smoky, spiced, sweet, tangy, umami, winey
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- About 2 pounds country style pork ribs (see Note), preferably Berkshire pork
- 4 large shallots, quartered (about ½ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 tablespoons Marsala, dry white wine, or apple juice
- 1 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter
- 2 cups dry bread crumbs
Place the salt and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl or pan. Add 2 quarts of cold water and whisk until the salt and brown sugar dissolve. Add the ribs and refrigerate, covered, until brined, 6 to 8 hours.
Place the shallots, garlic, and tarragon in a food processor or blender and finely chop them. Add the Marsala, mustard, and pepper and pulse until blended. Transfer this wet rub to a small nonreactive mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.
Drain the ribs, discarding the brine. Pat the ribs thoroughly dry on all sides with paper towels. Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir to combine. Transfer the crumb mixture to a shallow plate (a pie plate works well) or bowl.
Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a work surface and put the ribs on it. Place a second piece of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking pan. Set the plate of bread crumbs between the ribs and the baking sheet. Using a spatula or your hands, slather the ribs on all sides with the wet rub. Dredge each rib in the bread crumbs and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling (see Notes) and preheat to medium (325° to 350°F). Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate.
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the ribs in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the ribs until the crust is golden brown, the meat is cooked through, and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a rib registers about 160°F, 30 to 40 minutes.
To avoid knocking off the bread crumbs, using a spatula, carefully transfer the ribs to a serving platter or plates. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes before serving.
2006 Steven Raichlen