I have a humdinger of a recipe for you today. In fact, I’m going to share the secret to making the perfect country ribs. The secret consists of a surprisingly simple set of techniques that you’re probably quite familiar with; but happens to yield the most moist, juicy, flavorful, fall of the bone tender, country ribs you have ever had. Can you guess where I’m going with this? It’s ok, I’m not going to keep you sitting in suspense. Just a little drum roll please. Come on, humor me!
The trick: first you give those ribs a sear and then you finish em’ low & slow in the oven. Of course, you’ve got to seal the ribs in with some liquid, which happens to be known as braising. You’ll be rewarded with meat so tender it will fall apart from the touch of a fork. See, I’m betting you probably know those two techniques right? I use them all the time, it’s just that I never thought about applying these techniques specifically to country ribs.
In the past I’ve had country ribs barbecued, and that’s about it. I generally like bbq (ok, I luv bbq: brisket, brisket, brisket, please), but have never really liked bbq country ribs. I know a lot of people do. I’m just weird that way I guess. Country ribs tend to be on the fatty side, so they really are suited to bbq. But, I just never found them to be appealing. However, my husband, Dad, and Grandparents (who have been in town visiting) are pretty big rib fans, so I thought I should give them another try. Unfortunately, my bbq was broken last summer, so I actually couldn’t go the traditional route of grilling anyway.
My Grandmother suggested putting the ribs in the oven, which is how she cooks them all the time at home. I thought it was worth a try, after all I do tend to have really good luck with oven cooked meats. I decided I needed to add one lithe step, giving those ribs a quick sear before tucking them into the oven, which my Grandmother doesn’t usually do. But I knew it would be worth the extra trouble. In my experience, there isn’t a piece of meat that can’t benefit from a good sear before hitting the oven. Gotta love that Maillard reaction! So that was my plan. Little did I know I had stumbled on the secret to perfect country ribs.
I followed the plan exactly. First, I seasoned the ribs and then gave them a good sear. Next, I placed them in a casserole dish, added chicken broth so the ribs were about halfway submerged, and covered the dish tightly with tin foil. I put the whole thing in the oven at 350* and more or less ignored the ribs for the next 8 hours. Before not to long you could smell that meaty roasting scent, that makes you super hungry, all over the house. People around the house began to quiz me on when they could possibly get a piece of whatever it was in the oven that smelled so good. When dinner came around the ribs were in fact absolutely amazing; and as I noted, I’m not usually a fan of country ribs. My entire (rather large) pan disappeared in one sitting. Bingo! We have a winner.
Of course, over the next few weeks I repeated the process a several times to refine the recipe. I tested different oven cook times, (I find the minimum for truly tender ribs is four hours.) different seasonings, and more, so I can be confident I have the very best recipe to share with you.
The other thing I want to point out about this recipe: while it takes time in the oven, it’s really really easy. It takes ten to fifteen minutes to sear the ribs on the stove top. It takes no more then a moment to transfer the ribs to an oven safe pan (Or you can cook them in a stove-to-oven safe pan in the first place.), add broth, and seal it up. Then you pop them in the oven for 4-8 hours and you can more or less walk away and ignore them while they cook; becoming more and more tender by the hour. Actually incredibly simple right? You can go clean the bathroom, paint your nails, read, play with the kids, or watch entirely too much TV, whatever makes you happy. Though at some point in there you should probably spare a few of those free time minutes to make today’s bonus recipe: skillet green chili and cheddar cornbread. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the ribs, and also happens to be quick and easy. (That way you can get back to your TV binge watching quickly!) This cornbread is soft and moist, has plenty of corn flavor, but the green chilies and cheddar really make it unique and add a bit of ‘pop’.
Ribs, cornbread, just add your favorite veggies (green beans!) and you have a complete meal. Enjoy a lazy Saturday around the house (read: in front of the tube) and then sit down to a perfect dinner.