Maple-soy sauce braised pork ribs

November 10, 2010 § 4 Comments

I’m tired right now.  My butt is tired from biking all over the city to collect interview data.  My voice is tired from chewing out drivers who are being inattentive (er, well, that’s not actually true because I never quite get up the gumption to let loose with the internal vitriolic that I have worked up, but um, my inner voice is tired).  My brain is tired from trying to think about hypotheses.  And my self is tired because wow, we went and lost another hour of daylight there and pardon me but it’s really pretty friggin’ dark these days.  It’s funny because I’m a winter person, or at least I totally love winter, but I think I may also get a titch of seasonal affective disorder.  So anyway, with all this tiredness built up, I have realized that it is time.  It is time for comfort food.  Food that cooks slowly in the oven until it’s tender and falling apart.  Food that is only about as complex as a three word sentence.  Subject, verb, object:  Emily eats hotdish (that’s Minnesotan for casserole, in case you were confused).  Or perhaps:  Emily eats shortribs.  It is time for lasagne, mashed potatoes, pot roasts, braised ribs, stews, gravies.

I was getting suspicious from my general mood that maybe it was time.  Then my mother sent me a goulash recipe accompanied by the admonition that I really needed to get cooking some slow roasted meat dishes – the kind that sit in your slow cooker all day, generally minding their own but also taking care to gussy themselves up just so and to treat you to dinner.  So then I knew for sure it was time.  Moms are never wrong about these kinds of things.  A minor problem though.  I don’t have a slow cooker, so anything that needs a couple of hours to cook, I have to be there for.   And I don’t want to eat dinner at 9 pm, so the days that can support dishes that fall into the same genre as pot roasts and stews have to be carefully selected.  But, sometimes there are days when you can get home a little early and stick something in the oven.  Those, my friends, are very good days.Braising away!

And of course, the really great thing about the recipes that require a couple of hours of cooking time is that they actually require very little hands-on time commitment so you can get other things done while supper is simmering away.  Just yesterday I came home a little early and managed to grade a stack of papers, answer a bunch of emails, and do yoga all while concocting delicious, succulent, sticky pork ribs.  High quality multi-tasking if I do say myself, and there’s really nothing quite like having the enticing scent of pork and soy sauce tickling your nose while in downward facing dog.

I have to admit, I am not even really sure myself what exactly I threw into the braising liquid and glaze.  I guess it goes to show that dishes that are supposed to have a  sort of concentrated barbecue sauce-y flavor have a lot of room for leeway and innovation.  You just have to make sure that you strike a balance between salty, tangy, and sweet.  That said, I will still do my best to try to record what exactly it was I did.  Then, once you’ve cooked the ribs at a low temperature for a couple of hours they will be so tender you could eat them with a spoon, and all you have to do is keep them warm while you boil the braising liquid down until it’s thick and syrupy and a good consistency for schmearing messily all over everything, including your mashed squash and brussels sprouts that you’re sure to be serving as a side dish.

Once the sauce has been reduced to a glaze and spread back on the ribs, yum.

Maple Soy Braised Pork Ribs (serves 4-6)

  • about 4 lbs. pork ribs, country style
  • garlic powder
  • ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 bottle dark beer
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup orange or peach jam (or just use more maple syrup)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • about 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 325F.  Place the ribs in a roasting pan and sprinkle them generously with garlic powder and ground allspice.  In a saucepan combine all the rest of the ingredients (soy sauce through black pepper), bring to a boil and cook for about 1 minute.  Pour the liquid over the ribs, and turn the ribs to make sure both sides get coated.  Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. 
  2. In the meantime, fold your laundry, write a memo, watch the news, whatever you feel the need to do.  Oh, and prepare your side dishes.  After two hours, transfer the pork ribs to a serving platter and tent the foil over them to keep them warm (or you can place them back into the oven at 200F).  Pour the cooking liquid back into the saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook until it has become thick and syrupy (about 10-15 minutes).  Brush the sauce generously over the ribs and serve.
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