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Pork shoulder country rib style (bone in)--how to make them delectable?

First let me admit that I am totally remedial here. Had to go re-read the package to know what I bought. The ribs were on super special and I couldn't help myself (though I probably should have). I am a reliable peasant cook, but was a vegetarian for years and -- though I now eat anything -- am often perplexed about how to cook things from the animal kingdom.

So please, help me hounds! I have no grill and my stove/oven is electric (argh). But my pantry is full and I live close to more ingredients should they be needed. I'm especially interested in recipes/techniques that produce great flavor/texture but aren't exclusively about the meat. But of course I welcome and appreciate any and all suggestions.

Thanks so much!

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  1. The large amount of fat makes country style ribs a natural for braising. Slow moist cooking melts much of the fat & the meat becomes luscious. It's pretty hard to make a braised dish "not exclusively about the meat." The braising liquid becomes "meat-ful" and permeates anything you add to the pot.
    I suggest making the sides simple but perfect, so they shine and the meal as a whole isn't so meat heavy. Like a variety of impeccably steamed whole baby veg, or selection of raw veg (fennel & endive come to mind) and an herbal quinoa (or other grain/starch).

    Try a citrus-strong braising liquid (in fact, surround the ribs with orange & lemon slices in a heavy covered pot & try not adding liquid; if your oven is well-calibrated you should be able to pull it off. Or, add a minimal amount of wine or diluted vinegar.) Of course, olives and dried fruit would take this into tagine territory.

    Hope this helps. Enjoy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: meowzebub

      When you say "if your oven is well-calibrated you should be able to pull it off" what does this mean? If my oven's temperature is accurate? And if so, what temp do I want it at? I assume I'd add the liquid if things seemed to be too crispy when I checked?

      Thanks again!

      1. re: miss louella

        a lot of ovens go from heating (full-blast) until their thermostats reach the temperature setting and switch off until the temp falls and triggers the heating to start again, and seesaw back and forth. if you try to get a dish to self-baste (no added liquid) in this kind of oven, you'll get scorched ingredients on the outside, not braising.
        In such a situation, it doesn't matter much what temp the oven's set at; entering the "heating" mode frequently will overheat the dish. With a gas oven, one can hear the flame "whoosh"; I'm not familiar with electric ovens, but my experience with old electric ranges, the coil is either heating or not heating. I hope this has been eliminated with newer electric appliances, but I don't know.

        My comment referred to NOT adding liquid, just letting the citrus flavor the meat and fo the meat to self-baste. For example, Uncle Bob's rub idea, is a self-basting suggestion. If your oven keep going to heating, the ribs may be scorced or dried before they're cooked.

        Hope this helps.

    2. My current favorite way to prepare these is in a slow cooker. Slice some onions and lay the ribs on top. Mix together some barbaque (sp) sauce and crushed tomatoes and let the ribs cook away. I've made this with frozen ribs and it's ready in 6-7 hours. I hope you try this.

      1. Rub them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, a little chili powder... really anything you like....Place on a wire rack over a drip pan, and slow roast in a 225* or so oven until tender..Time, will depend on how thick they were cut, but you will be able to reach in and easily pinch off a piece. At this point you can sauce and cook for 10-15 minutes more...or serve them as is with a sauce on the side for those that want/need it.

        Have Fun!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Uncle Bob

          This sounds simple enough that I might be able to manage it! :-)

          1. re: Uncle Bob

            I kinda agree with Uncle Bob on this one. Although, yes, crock pot or stewing would make them more delectable since they will be stewing in their own rendered fat, There is enough fat in these things that they can simply be baked and will come out tender as all get out.

          2. These all sound really good! And I have an even more fundamental question... when I serve them, do I serve with the bone still in? These are pretty big ribs (definitely won't fit in my crock pot) -- is this the kind of thing people expect on their plates? Or am I supposed to debone and do some sort of fancy pile-on-top of some puree thing?


            1 Reply
            1. re: miss louella

              Serve as is...or remove the bone. Either way works for me!


            2. If you haven't done much meat cooking, someone should mention that they will take a long time to cook. Braising isn't about internal temperature. In a covered 225 degree dutch oven with a tiny bit of liquid, you are looking at at least 1.5 hours, and more likely 2-4 hours. It could take longer if you "dry roast" them as someone has suggested. I highly recommend cooking these covered with a small amount of liquid as meowzebub suggests.

              1. We make these sometimes when we want a lazy saturday. All I do is put them in a roaster, slice up some onion, throw in some garlic, crack some pepper on top, then bake at 275 for 90 minutes. Then I top with bbq sauce and cook uncovered half an hour. Simple, but very, very good. I never add any liquid as they render plenty of juice/fat that I enver find it necessary. The one time i cooked them on a wire rack they turned out kind of dry, they seem to do a lot better cooking in their own juices.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rick

                  Rick, I have twice ruined a batch of pork country ribs. Once in the slow cooker and then yesterday in the oven. I am a very good cook and almost every piece of meat I cook turns out good - ( 60 years a cook!)....however, the last 2 times I cooked them, they were dry and sawdust and just terrible. I just shredded them and threw BBQ sauce and gave them to my son for sloppy Joe sandwiches. We used to grill these slowly on indirect heat and they were moist and delicious.....where am I going wrong? They were very lean country ribs I must admit.

                2. well, you can braise them and they'll be great...but you can get them just as tender and succulent (and retain more flavor) by giving them a dry rub with your favorite blend and then s-l-o-w roasting them (uncovered, of course) in a 275F oven for a couple hours. I've done this with the country ribs (which are basically sliced pork shoulder butts) and the results have been beautiful. The slow roasting is the key though...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: The Professor

                    I agree that slow-roasting has tons of potential, but I think braising is more fool-proof for a beginner.

                    1. re: jeremyn

                      after all this great advice, I'm gonna try them both ways--slow roasted (uncovered) with a dry rub and braised in just a bit of liquid. I'm a gal who LOVES a side-by-side taste off!

                      Thank you all! I'll be cooking these tomorrow (Thursday) and will report back on my results (as soon as I can get my fingers clean!).

                  2. Well, I had an unexpected bounty of roasted green chiles, so I threw caution (and side-by-side comparisons) to the wind and put the peeled chiles in the bottom of my pot, added an equal(ish) amount of chopped onion, and about a head of garlic, then slapped the ribs on top. Then put my covered pot in a 225* oven. The smells were almost immediately tantalizing. But, as jeremyn warned, they took a looooooong time to get tender. But once they got there, YUM!!! The next time I do this (and there will be a next time), I'll make it a two-day process so there are no growling tummies around until defatted day two.

                    Thanks, everyone, for your help!! Your advice gave me the confidence I needed to actually cook those monsters instead of buy them and let them go bad while I muddled about trying to figure out what to do.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: miss louella

                      That sounds great. If you ever get a grill, though, you should try jerking them. Either find a good jerk seasoning recipe, or get the Walkerswood jerk seasoning in the jar, rub on, let sit, then slow-cook them over low heat on the grill. They can be really good this way.

                    2. I like these cooked on a "bed" of sauerkraut, apple, onion, and brown sugar. (And salt and pepper.) Long slow cooking is perfect. I usually make cornbread with this dinner.

                      1. This is quick, tasty and easy.
                        Oven Roasted Baby Back Ribs (make your favorite sauce with them)
                        Makes 1 rack for 2 people
                        1 rack of baby back pork ribs (remove membrane)
                        kosher salt
                        cracked black pepper

                        Preheat oven to 325 and place ribs on large piece of foil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on each side (you can do this the night before or right before cooking), ending with fat side up. Cover ribs with a second piece of foil and seal tightly to keep moisture in, bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and brush with homemade sauce, or your favorite sauce, place fat side down and return to oven (foil open) for 30 more minutes. Remove again and brush with more sauce, cut and serve. You'll probably want to invest in large amounts of napkins.

                        1. There's a very nice mexican pork stew in a Diana Kennedy book, can't remember which one. Simmer some country-style ribs in water with an onion, peppercorns, garlic cloves until tender. Saute some rough chopped onion and garlic, add chopped tomato, add ripe plaintain cut into 1-inch pieces. Take pork off the bone and add to stew. Add cubes of fresh pineapple and large green olives with pits, and slivered almonds. Add some of the broth from the pork. I think there's some mexican oregano in there somewhere as well.

                          1. I've used the cut to make pork chile verde, and it was well received. Here's a variation: