Country Spareribs in Mexican Red Chile Sauce

Are you fluffing the couch cushions and gearing up for more March Madness? Or, is it a tossup between watching college basketball and watching paint dry in your house? Either way, an easy recipe for some flavorful pork ribs that can cook in the oven or slow cooker is a great option for a gathering of fans and friends or non-fans alike.

Country spareribs are made by butterflying the blade or shoulder end of the pork loin, notes the author of The Great Meat Cookbook, Bruce Aidells, who contributed this recipe to Real Food. Butchers sometimes go further up the shoulder using sections of butterflied pork shoulder butt (Boston butt) and call them country spareribs as well. Country ribs have a little more gristle than back ribs, which come from the center cut loin, but are ideal for long, slow braising and are the perfect cut for this dish. If you can’t find country spareribs, then use 2-inch chunks of pork shoulder butt. Not only is this a simple and tasty dish to prepare but it is very kind to the pocketbook as well.

This dish also works very well in a slow cooker. Just prepare the sauce as indicated, suggests Aidells, combine with the remaining ingredients in your slow cooker, set it on low, and cook 6-8 hours, or until the pork is tender. Be sure to monitor the level of the liquid from time to time and add the reserved chile soaking liquid as needed.
Go team! Or…go semi-gloss!

Country Spareribs in Mexican Red Chile Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

6 ancho or other mild dried chilies
2 c. chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, left whole
1 bunch cilantro, stems separated and reserved, leaves chopped
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 c. canned diced tomatoes
¼ c. fresh lime juice
2 c. chicken stock or canned low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 lbs. boneless country pork ribs or Boston butt, cut into 2-inch chunks
6 canned fired roasted green chiles, seeded and sliced

Tear the dried chilies apart, discarding the seeds and stem and place in a bowl or large Pyrex measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Soak at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator, until the chilies are soft. Save the soaking liquid and drain the chilies.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Drop the chilies, onion, garlic, cilantro stems, cumin seed, tomatoes, lime juice, chicken stock or broth, chili powder, salt and pepper into a blender jar and pulse to purée. Place the meat into a heavy lidded Dutch oven and stir in the chile sauce mixture until the meat is well coated then cover with the lid. Insert into the oven and cook for one hour. Check to see if more liquid is needed and if so, add some of the reserved chile soaking liquid. Add green chilies, cover and bake 30-60 minutes more or until the pork is tender. Remove from the oven and degrease the surface or refrigerate overnight then remove the congealed fat and re-warm.

If the sauce is too watery, bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in shallow bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Nutrition info (per serving) Country Spare Ribs: CALORIES 559 (260 from fat); FAT 29g (sat. 10g); CHOL 140mg; SODIUM 957mg; CARB 24g; FIBER 8g; PROTEIN 53g

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