Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 11, 2010

Cider-Sauerkraut Braised Spareribs

This is what I made for dinner last night. I was hosting the inimitable Veggie Annie.  Of course. I wanted help with the pigs at feeding time, since it’s not a job for the faint of heart or light of weight. And she offered it in return for a farm-to-table girl’s night.

Those spareribs were so good (thanks Bobby). They were hearty, flavorful and succulent. We both had seconds, and that was after we’d had a serving each of leftover pumpkin lasagna. I decided on braising, since  I have a way with a crock pot.

Cider-Sauerkraut Braised Spareribs

3/4 cup tomato sauce

3/4 cup cider

3/4 cup salsa, whatever you have on hand will do just fine

1 1/2 tsp sage

10 juniper berries, crushed

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2-1 1/2 tsp Crystal hot sauce–adjust this for the kind of hot sauce and heat tolerance you and your diners have

2 TBSP bacon drippings

2 small, 1 medium, 1/2 large onion sliced

8 shallots, sliced

2- 2 1/2 lbs spareribs

3/4 lb sauerkraut, seasoned as you like it (our standard is caraway-apple, but that might not be your preference).

Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a small saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients and allow them to bubble over moderate heat. In a heavy, 3 quart casserole with a lid, melt the drippings over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add the onions and the shallots, reduce the heat and let them cook and take some color. Pat the spareribs dry with a paper towel or old kitchen towel. In a large, heavy pan over moderate heat, sear off the spareribs in batches in a dry pan. Give them four minutes on a side, and make sure they’re taking good color before you turn them.

Put the seared ribs in the pot with the shallots and onions. Pour the sauce over the ribs. Top off the pot with the sauerkraut, and spread it so that it covers everything beneath it. Finish with the lid.

Put this in the preheated oven. Let it cook covered for about four hours. Remove the lid, raise the temperature to 350°F, and let it all cook for one hour longer. This should stand a few minutes before being served, as it is very hot when removed from the oven.

If this is too much sauerkraut for your taste, add more spareribs–or reduce the amount of the sauerkraut. I thought it was just right. If you don’t have leftover pumpkin lasagna, you could serve this with a side of rice or potatoes, or quinoa. The bite in slow-cooked greens would be a nice complement to the richness of the pork–so go there if you have the time and the inclination.

This works well in a slow cooker, but it will need more like six hours on slow, with the lid cocked–and an hour and a half on high at the end (you’ll still have to do the initial stove-top prep before loading it into the slow cooker).

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