First of all, that package of meat labeled “country style pork ribs” — they are not ribs. They’re not even all that close to the ribs.
I don’t know why they call them ribs. Maybe because they kind of look like short ribs. But it’s a good way to get a decent portion of pork shoulder without having to buy a whole one.
Second, let me tell you about fond. If you know what it is, just stand by for a minute. When you get to the step where you’re taking the cooked meat out of the pot, there’s this residue at the bottom. It can be a dark, gooey liquid or just bits of stuff left behind.
That’s the fond. Its whole name is the French term fonds de cuisine and, unless it’s badly scorched, it is like magic for a sauce, a gravy or whatever this is we’re making.
If you don’t have time for all this and you want to skip to the end, just use some leftover pork roast or pot roast or even shrimp. It’s all about the chard anyway. Heat some oil in a large kettle on the stove. Chop up an onion and a bell pepper. Prep the chard as in step 12. Saute the onion until it starts to soften. Then pick up at step 16.
OK, you may proceed. First, gather your equipment.
cast iron Dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot/baking dish with lid
tongs or meat fork
heat safe plate
pot holders, obviously, unless you are Superman
- cooking oil
- 2 lb country style pork ribs
- seasoned salt, pepper and paprika (or whatever salt/spice/herb you like)
- 1 t ginger paste (optional; can substitute ground ginger)
- 1 T minced garlic
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 bunches rainbow chard
- 1-2 cups broth, stock of your choice or water (I used beef stock)
- 1 T fish sauce (optional)
- Base: cooked pasta, cheese grits or rice
- Condiments: chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, sambal oelek (Indonesian chili paste)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put a heat-safe bowl of water on a separate rack in the oven. This will help keep the meat from drying out.
2. On the stovetop, heat 2-3 T. oil.
3. While oil is heating, remove pork from package and place on cutting board. Salt and pepper all sides and rub with paprika or whatever.
4. When oil starts to shimmer, add ginger paste and garlic and cook for about a minute.
5. Add pork and sear on all sides to a nice brown crust, 1-2 minutes per side. Lower heat if meat starts to scorch.
6. While pork is browning, wipe off cutting board and cover with a couple of paper towels.
7. When pork is ready, remove from pot and drain on paper towels. Leave pot on hot burner and do not turn off the stove.
8. Loosen fond slightly at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add a little oil if you need to, about 1-2 T. Add half the chopped onion and stir to coat. Then put the pork back in the pot, on top of the onion.
9. Pour in 1 c. stock.
Pause for a moment to give thanks for the fond. If you’ve used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, this is a magical moment. Just appreciate the sound, the smell and the way it looks when the fond melts into the stock and sizzles to the surface. This is my favorite thing in cooking.
10. Turn off the stove, cover the pot and put in the oven for an hour. Check every 30 minutes or so and add stock as necessary to keep meat from drying out. Add water to that bowl on the other rack if it’s all evaporated.
11. While meat is cooking, rinse off cutting board. Wash, seed and dice bell pepper.
12. Separate stems from the chard leaves and discard any tough stems or yellowed leaves. Wash stems and leaves under running water and pat dry. Slice stems into 1″ pieces and chop or tear leaves into mouth-sized pieces.
Helpful tip: you can leave all these vegies on the counter while the meat is cooking unless you have dogs like Salvador and Lenny. They will eat anything. So you might need to put your vegies in the fridge until step 14.
13. After the meat has cooked for an hour, reduce oven temp to 275. Then check every 20-30 minutes to see if the meat is tender. Uncover to reduce the stock if there’s too much (more than 1 to 1.5 cups). Otherwise, add more stock if you need to and replace the lid.
14. When meat is FINALLY done, remove from the pot with tongs and put on the plate to rest. Put the pot back on the stovetop burner and turn on high. When stock begins to bubble, add the rest of the chopped onion and braise until it begins to soften.
15. Meanwhile, pull or cut meat into bite-sized pieces if desired.
16. Add the bell pepper and the chard stems to the onion in the pot and toss together. Braise for a minute or two longer.
17. Then add the meat back to the pot.
18. Stuff as much of the chard leaves as you can into the pot. You might have to do this in batches.
Cover the pot and turn heat to medium-low and cover.
Every 2-3 minutes, stir the pot to move the wilted leaves to the top until all the leaves have been braised. It doesn’t take long.
This is a good place to check for seasoning, add what you need, including a tablespoon of fish sauce.
19. Plate your food by ladling onto a bed of hot pasta, cheese grits, rice or nothing. Add a dollop of sambal, a sprinkle of cilantro and a spoonful of peanuts.
20. Dig in. Don’t burn your tongue.
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