Apple Cider Braised Country Style Ribs
Country-style ribs are not really ribs. They are cut from the front end of the baby backs near the shoulder and a tray of country-style ribs in the grocery store will contain few, if any, ribs. In fact, if there are bones, more than likely they are from the shoulder blade.
Country-style ribs are more like pork chops, more meaty and less fatty than real ribs, and should be cooked like chops, not ribs. Typically $3 to 4 per pound. Because they vary in size and thickness, they are hard to cook to an even doneness. They should be cooked to 135 to 140°F like pork chops. Depending on how they are cut, a serving will be one or two country ribs. For big hungry men, perhaps three. They respond well to brining before low and slow cooking.
In this recipe we are going to be braising the "ribs." Braising (from the French word, “braiser”) is a combination-cooking method that uses both moist and dry heats: typically, the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in some (variable) amount of liquid (which may also add flavor). Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting, though some authors make a distinction between the two methods, based on whether additional liquid is added.
Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to break down the tough connective tissue (collagen) that binds together the muscle fibers collectively called meat, making it an ideal way to cook tougher, more affordable cuts. Many classic braised dishes (e.g., coq au vin) are highly evolved methods of cooking tough and otherwise unpalatable foods. Both pressure cooking and slow cooking (e.g., crockpots) are forms of braising.
Given that apple cider is in season now, not to mention that apple and pork is a classic combination. I decided to use apple cider in this very flavorful braising liquid. This is perfect for a chilly fall day for a football game or just for a good, hearty family dinner. Give it a try and let me know what you think!