Crispy Pork Riblets Made from Cows

Do you guys remember in my last cooking entry where I mentioned that maybe my genius is I’m so manipulative that I manipulate myself? My genius sub-conscious has struck again!

Or maybe I’m just bad at taking notes/paying attention to detail.

It’s probably the latter, but you know what? Reality sucks. It blows. I kind of just want to be a delusional girl living in a material world. That’s what everyone else does and they seem happy.

Alas, I cannot delude myself for too long. I start out delusional about things and then my matrix plug gets taken out. I start out all happy and delusional, but then Morpheus comes along and is all like, “Hey Rachel, would you like to take this red pill?”

“Yeah! Hit me with some truth Morphman!”

“Are you sure? You could stay in this world where you think you made a recipe correctly or that the good you see in people actually does exist?”

Morpheus can’t even complete this warning to me, because as he’s talking I up and snatch that red pill like Violet does to Willy Wonka.

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I don’t blow up or turn violet, but soon after I’m already wishing I stayed in the Matrix and continued to delude myself with fake steak like this guy.

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It wouldn’t have taken me that long even

As you may have guessed from the title, I accidentally made beef riblets instead of pork riblets. This is because when I was writing my ingredients list I just wrote, spare ribs, about 3 pounds. I mean cows are the only animals we eat with ribs to spare right?

I don’t actually believe that. I’m not that ignorant.

Despite this, the recipe still turned out well, but I’m sure it’s even better with pork. Being that this is a recipe from the Portlandia cookbook, though, it’s nice to have something comedic to say. I guess. I don’t know. Can I go back to the matrix now?

Here’s what you need

  • 2 medium racks (about 3 pounds) of PORK spareribs, cut lengthwise in half
  • 6 smashed large garlic cloves
  • 1 quartered onion
  • 1 halved serrano or jalapeno chili
  • 4 lightly smashed lemongrass stalks
  • 8 1/4 inch slices of fresh, peeled ginger
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup of orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of Korean chili flakes or Aleppo
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt

The first step is to make the ribs by preheating the oven to 350. You then place your ribs in a large dutch oven with garlic, onion, chili, lemongrass, ginger, broth, soy sauce, and 4 cups of water. If you don’t have a dutch oven by the way, you can use a large pot, as long as it’s oven safe that is. Whatever cooking tool you use, you’re going to bring the contents in it to a boil.

Once it’s at a boil, cover the pot and place it in the oven for 2 hours. Every once in a while check up on the ribs by turning them over too.

Now here’s where the directions in the cookbook confused me, because after the two hours are up it says to place the riblets aside on a platter and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. That seems straightforward enough but I was a bit confused as to whether I was supposed to drain the liquid or not. It states to drain the liquid after noting the fridge part, but it confused me as to why I would need to transfer the meat if that step was listed later. So I ended up keeping everything together and letting my meat set for four hours. It didn’t seem to ruin anything, so I think I made the right choice.

Unfortunately, when I did strain the liquid after refrigerating, I also threw out the drain. Don’t do this because you’ll need it later for the glaze.

Anyway, after removing the meat from the liquid you’re going to prepare the meat for a little shake and bake. The cookbook says to place the  meat in a large paper bag. I did not have a large paper bag, so I used the less fun method of mixing it in a bowl. If you’re not fun or cool like me you can do that as well. If you use the paper bag method, you will need to get a bowl and mix the cornstarch and flour together and then pour the mix into the bag for shaking. Otherwise just add the meat to the bowl. It does the same thing, it’s just not as fun.

The next step is to prepare your spareribs for frying. To do so, heat about 2 inches of oil in a pan for a degree of 375. Once you’ve reach that level of intensity, you will fry the meat until they are brown and crispy. This should take about 6 minutes.

Once fried, remove the meat from the oil and drain the excess oil off with paper towels.

While this is happening, you can make your glaze by combining the marmalade, the leftover cooking broth, ketchup, mustard, sesame oil, and fish sauce in a food processor. If you accidentally threw the cooking broth down the drain, you can do what I did and add 1/4 of a cup of water. It won’t add as much to the flavor, but it helps with the mixing.

When everything is properly mixed, you add the mix to a saucepan to simmer for about 5 minutes. You want it to simmer under medium heat and it should look glossy when it’s ready.

Once it’s ready, you then take 2/3 of the sauce and mix it with the ribs by tossing in a large bowl. Once that’s complete, arrange your meat on a platter of your choice and sprinkle it with the chili flakes and salt.

The remaining sauce can be used for extra dipping or you can just ignore that like I did and glaze the crap out of it because you know you’re going to pour the extra on there anyway so why not do it sooner rather than later.

My final result, despite it being beef instead of pork was scrumptious. In the Portlandia cookbook this is supposed to consumed as an appetizer, but I made some rice and ate it as an entree. It ended up being a nice, full-filling meal and I do recommend trying it out!

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Pork Parmesan

This is another recipe from my ruined cookbook, Weeknight Menus. I was excited about this recipe, because Chicken Parmesan was my favorite dish as a child and I still love it, but I’ve got tons more favorite dishes now.

This dish isn’t too different from the chicken version nor is it difficult and the best part about it is that you bread with Japanese panko crumbs. As a general rule one usually uses Italian bread crumbs for Parmesan dishes. Panko bread crumbs are light and crisp in comparison to Italian bread crumbs. I think it’s perfect for pork, but I have to admit I’d stick to the Italian bread crumbs for chicken.

The first step in this recipe is to boil your side dish of pasta and pre-heat your oven to 400. This particular recipe called for fettuccine, but I prefer spaghetti as a side. I feel like fettuccine is a bit too thick of a pasta to pair with a whole slab of meat.

Meanwhile, while your pasta is boiling, you bread the pork. I ended up buying a thin sliced package of four boneless pork loin chops from Von’s which worked out perfectly. Whenever I make boneless meat dishes, I can’t help but be thrilled that I don’t have to slaughter and cut my own meat. I’m very much an omnivore, but I understand vegetarians who became so because of their love of animals. Even if I wasn’t sympathetic to animals, though, that whole process seems like a lot of work. I still remember this story my mother told me about watching her grandmother kill and prepare a chicken. She was extremely sweet in her methods, but it was a slightly horrific and fascinating experience for my mother.

My great-grandmother’s method of killing chickens was to gently pick the chicken up from it’s pen. She would then hold it in her lap, grab it’s legs and stroke the chicken’s neck until it calmed down. Once it was calm, she would make sure it’s neck was extended and that it was still calm, grab her cleaver with one hand and WHACK! It’s a frightening concept that I  can relate to life. Whenever things are going well for me, I keep waiting for that cleaver that’s going to chop off my neck. That’s what that story taught me anyway. It’s the calm before the storm.

Ok, so I’m done being a Debbie downer for today, I promise. Let us all be thankful we don’t have to do that.

The next step is to bread your pork. All you do is get two shallow plates and one wide shallow bowl. One shallow plate has flour and the other panko crumbs. The bowl will be filled with two beaten eggs. Take each pork loin and cover with the flour, than cover it with the egg, and finally the panko crumbs. Once all the pork loins are breaded, you fry them in olive oil until golden brown and then set aside.

If your pasta has cooked in this time, you drain it and toss with olive oil and parsley. If not, just do that when it is, whenever that is.

The next step is to make some tomato sauce and the first step to do that is to saute a cup of diced onion and two minced garlic cloves in olive oil. Then you add a 280z can of diced tomatoes along with a cup of chicken broth, a bit of red wine vinegar, sugar, and oregano. The recipe then calls for you to smash the sauce with a potato masher. I do not own one, so I did my best attempts to smash everything. I did this by taking a  flat wooden stirring spoon, scooping up as many chunks of tomatoes as possible, and smashing it against the spoon with a fork.

Once that’s done you boil your sauce and then allow it to simmer for ten minutes.

Now you go back to your pork. You place the pork on a pan and add sliced mozzarella strips on top. Place it in the oven until the cheese melts, which will be around 5 minutes.

Once the pork is done you place it neatly beside your pasta and pour the sauce wherever you like and garnish with Parmesan. I like to pour it everywhere, by the way. I love my gravy. I blame my half Italian-American mother for that.

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As my 5 year old self would say, “Yummy in my tummy!”