It’s anybody’s guess when the meat market will stabilize.
With coronavirus-related disruptions to the supply chain, meat prices are starting to go up, and many grocery stores are limiting the number of meat products customers can buy.
Although Jonathan Safran Foer recently wrote in the New York Times about how the pandemic will mark the beginning of the end of our meat-centric world, I am hearing only about how people are cutting back on meat, not cutting it out entirely.
My own cooking habits have had to change depending on what I can find at the grocery store. It’s been weeks since we’ve seen bare shelves in the meat department, but sometimes I have to buy cuts that I wasn’t planning on.
I’m also looking into buying part of a cow or a pig, which means I’ll have all kinds of different cuts of meat to cook.
I grew up eating ribs that had been slathered in barbecue sauce and then wrapped in foil and baked in a 200-degree oven for hours, but I can get tired of traditional barbecue sauce ribs.
On Mother’s Day, I tried a different spin from Loro, which makes Balinese-style baby back ribs that are smoked over post oak and then, once a bark has formed on the outside of the meat, glazed with a savory-sweet sauce made with pineapple juice, tamarind and chiles and wrapped in foil while they finish cooking over low heat. The ribs are served with pickled cauliflower and green onions for contrast, acid and crunch.
The ribs with the tamarind barbecue sauce were a good reminder that even cuts we associate with traditional barbecue can benefit from different seasonings and sauces.
Austinite Jess Pryles, the founder of Hardcore Carnivore who has been posting cooking videos on her IGTV and Facebook pages during the pandemic, uses traditional smoking methods to cook both beef and pork ribs, but she often uses creativity to change up the rub or the sauce used to season them. On her website, jesspryles.com, she has recipes for pepper jelly pork ribs, wine-braised beef ribs and baby back ribs seasoned with a smoky and sweet flor de Jamaica glaze.
Feeling inspired, I pulled three recipes from three new cookbooks to offer four ideas for seasoning and cooking ribs in a few different ways. As always, these recipes are meant to inspire you based on what cooking tools and techniques you have, so if you don’t have or use a smoker for the satay ribs, you can use an Instant Pot, an oven or a slow cooker to make a similar dish using some general guidelines.
Beef ribs are thicker and take longer, no matter what you’re cooking with, as long as an hour in a pressure cooker or six hours in a slow cooker. Pork ribs, on the other hand, finish in about 25 minutes in a pressure cooker if they are baby back ribs and 35 minutes if they are the thicker spare ribs. Pork ribs take closer to four hours in a slow cooker.
Now that it’s a little hot to have an oven on all day, I prefer cooking ribs in a multicooker, aka an Instant Pot, and then finishing them under a broiler for three to four minutes to crisp up the edges of the meat.
When using a slow cooker, some folks like to bake the ribs first for 15 minutes under high heat before putting in the slow cooker, which cuts down on the overall time and helps kick-start the fat rendering in the meat.
You’ll know the ribs are ready when the meat starts to crack or split when you pull the ribs apart.
I almost always serve ribs with some kind of cold slaw or salad tossed in a bright, citrus vinaigrette. The acid in the salad helps balance the salt and fat in the rib meat.
I love using leftover rib meat in tacos or served with rice. I usually keep the meat on the bones when refrigerating it, but you can pull the meat off and chop it up before storing.
Satay of Baby Back Ribs with Peanut Sauce
Even though the lean (and often dry) chicken satay that is a staple at nearly every Thai restaurant in the United States leads people to believe otherwise, the most common type of satay in Thailand by far is made of pork.
A classic pork satay, made on the streets of Thailand, is served with a mild, salty, sweet coconut-based peanut sauce that is redolent of the spices and herbs associated with Thai red or massaman curry. A small, shallow bowl of cool, tangy cucumber salad brings balance to the ensemble, and thick slices of toast, cut into bite-size cubes, are often served alongside.
As far as I know, nobody makes satay with bone-in pork ribs like this. But all of the traditional flavors and components are here. If you miss the bamboo sticks, think of the ribs as pork meat that nature has already threaded onto skewers — here, the rib bones. The big difference is that instead of cooking your satay hot and fast, the way it’s typically done, you will need to cook it low and slow.
— Leela Punyaratabandhu
2 full racks baby back ribs, about 2 pounds each, rinsed and patted very dry
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
For the peanut sauce:
3/4 cup unsweetened natural creamy peanut butter (with a layer of oil on top)
1/4 cup Thai red or massaman curry paste
1 1/2 cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons distilled white or cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
For the cucumber relish:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup distilled white or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
1 ounce shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 fresh Thai long chile, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
8 to 10 cilantro leaves
6 slices soft white bread, 1 inch thick, for serving
To prep the ribs: If the rib racks come with the silvery membrane still attached on the underside, remove it by working a finger underneath the membrane on the larger end of the rack (if necessary, use a chopstick or a butter knife to create a path) and then work your way past two or three ribs toward the opposite end to loosen the membrane. Then, grab the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off decisively and swiftly.
Rub the salt on both sides of the racks. Place the racks on a large sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a dry small frying pan, combine the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds over medium-low heat and toast, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder or a mortar, let cool, and then add the peppercorns and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the turmeric.
Once the ribs have chilled for 2 hours, moisten both sides of the racks with a little bit of vegetable oil — just enough to form a thin layer of glue for the dry rub — then spread the dry rub evenly on both sides of the racks.
Prepare a kettle grill for smoking or a pellet grill/smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Aim for a temperature between 220 and 230 degrees. Place the rib racks bone side down in the grill and cook for 2 to 3 hours. (You could also slow cook the ribs in a Crock-Pot or pressure cook them in an Instant Pot, for 4 hours or 35 minutes, respectively.)
Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: Pour the oil that has risen to the top of the peanut butter into a 2-quart saucepan (or use 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil) and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the curry paste and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the peanut butter, coconut milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the water, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil and boil gently, whisking often, for 3 minutes. Taste and stir in as much of the remaining sugar as you like. Remove from the heat and let cool until slightly warmer than room temperature.
While the peanut sauce is cooling, prepare the dressing for the cucumber relish: Combine the sugar, vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool completely.
After 2 hours in the smoker, begin testing the ribs: Pick up a rack and bend it gently. If the meat between the ribs cracks, you’re good to go. Transfer the ribs to a platter but keep the fire going. While the ribs are resting for 10 minutes, toast the bread on both sides on the grill until golden brown and cut it into triangles, halves or cubes as you wish.
If cooking the ribs in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, broil for a few minutes under high and then let the meat rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Finish the cucumber relish by stirring the cucumber slices, shallot slices, chile slices and cilantro leaves into the prepared dressing.
Cut the rib racks into individual ribs and serve them with the peanut sauce for dipping, the toast and the cucumber relish. Serves 4.
— Adapted from “Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked over Charcoal" by Leela Punyaratabandhu (Ten Speed Press, $30)
Sweet Chinese BBQ Ribs
Sticky, juicy and aromatic and a firm favorite for most carnivores, these ribs will tantalize your taste buds. They’re so tender, the meat literally falls off the bone. The yellow bean sauce, also known as hußng jiÓng, is available at Asian markets.
— Kwoklyn Wan
1 rack of pork ribs (about 2 pounds), cut into individual ribs
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 spring onion, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
8 tablespoons hoisin sauce
8 tablespoons yellow bean sauce
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons rice wine
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons oil, such as vegetable or peanut
3 tablespoons honey
In a large saucepan with a lid, place the ribs and all of the ingredients except the stock, cornstarch slurry, oil and honey, and massage them into the meat. Now add enough stock so the ribs are almost completely submerged under the liquid. Bring the pan to a boil, turn down to a simmer and place the lid on the pan. Cook on low for 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the sauce and adding more stock if necessary. Remove the ribs from the sauce and place on a wire rack set over a bowl to drain.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Strain the remainder of the sauce through a sieve into a clean saucepan and bring back to a boil. Slowly add the cornstarch and water mixture while stirring to thicken the sauce to the desired consistency, ideally so that the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and set to one side.
Arrange the ribs on a baking tray, lightly brush with oil and place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the ribs with the thickened barbecue sauce or, if you like, some honey, and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes, taking care that they don’t burn. Serve on a large plate with the remainder of the barbecue sauce.
— From “Chinese Takeout Cookbook: From Chop Suey to Sweet 'n' Sour, Over 70 Recipes to Re-create Your Favorites" by Kwoklyn Wan (Quadrille, $22.99)
Ginger-Lime Baby Back Ribs
Ribs are the easiest way to my daughter’s heart. She orders them whenever we go out to eat, so I’ve started making them at home, too. I like to serve these mouthwatering ribs alongside a simple slaw made with shredded cabbage, lime juice and avocado oil mayonnaise. This is a really solid yet simple meal that, if you’re following a keto diet, will keep your macronutrients in line and make you feel like you’re not giving up a thing.
— Jen Fisch
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1 (2 to 2 1/2-pound) rack baby back ribs
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fine Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
For the sauce:
1/4 cup coconut aminos, tamari or soy sauce
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
For the slaw:
1/2 pound green or red cabbage, shredded
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 to 2 tablespoons avocado oil mayonnaise
Pinch of fine Himalayan pink salt
Place a trivet with handles in the Instant Pot. Add the broth and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Remove the thin membrane from the back of the ribs. Cut the ribs into 4 sections. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, ginger, garlic, pink salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the ribs. Arrange the ribs on the trivet.
Secure the lid on the pot and close the pressure-release valve. Set the pot to high pressure for 25 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, use a natural release to depressurize.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the coconut aminos, butter, sesame oil, lime zest and remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice. Cook the sauce over medium-low heat just until the butter melts, about 2 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to 6 inches from the heat source. Heat the broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Open the Instant Pot and transfer the ribs, meaty-side down, to the prepared baking sheet, discarding the cooking liquid from the pot. Brush the ribs with some of the sauce. Broil until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the ribs over. Brush with more sauce. Broil until browned and slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes more.
In a small bowl, toss together all ingredients for the slaw.
To serve, brush the ribs with any remaining sauce and sprinkle with the green onion and sesame seeds. Serve with slaw.
— From “Keto in an Instant: More Than 80 Recipes for Quick & Delicious Keto Meals Using Your Pressure Cooker” by Jen Fisch (Harper Wave, $25.99)
2-in-1 Beef Short Ribs
This recipe comes from author and Primal Blueprint podcast host Elle Russ, who offers two variations for the seasoning, one that takes the ribs in a smoky cumin direction and another that calls for rosemary and truffle salt. “Keto for Life” author Mark Sisson suggests serving the paprika-spiced ribs with a light brush of barbecue sauce. (You also can cut leftover meat into pieces and use in tacos.) For the truffle salt-and-rosemary seasoning, use that leftover meat with pasta or mashed potatoes (or cauliflower if you’re keeping it paleo/keto).
— Addie Broyles
For the seasoning (choice A):
3 tablespoons pastured unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon smoked natural sea salt
For the seasoning (choice B):
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon truffle salt
1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary, chopped
For the ribs:
4 beef short ribs
1 cup water or chicken or beef broth or stock (or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup red wine)
Make the seasoning: In a small bowl, mix the choice of seasonings. Rub the mixture all over the ribs.
Prepare the ribs: Set the Instant Pot to saute on the normal setting. Add the ribs and brown them on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the ribs from the pot and press Cancel.
Add the liquid and deglaze the pot. Place the metal steam rack/trivet in the pot. Place the ribs on top of the rack, secure the lid, and set the steam release valve to sealing. Set the pressure cook time to 45 minutes.
When the times is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully switch the steam release valve to venting. When fully released, open the lid. Use tongs to transfer the short ribs to a serving plate and enjoy immediately.
— From “Keto for Life: Reset Your Biological Clock in 21 Days and Optimize Your Diet for Longevity" by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns (Harmony Books, $27.99)