Baby Back Ribs Cooked in Sauerkraut

Baby Back Ribs Cooked in Sauerkraut
  • Difficulty:

    1
  • Prep Time:

    15m
  • Total Time:

    2h 15m
  • Servings:

    4

Description

You can eat sauerkraut fresh from the jar as a tart and crunchy snack, but to get the most out of this cultural food staple, you need to slow-cook it. Use it to smother a rack of baby back ribs, for example. As they cook, the sauerkraut softens and mellows, tenderizing the ribs and bringing out all the lush flavors in the pork and fermented cabbage.

Ingredients

  • 1 rack Simple Truth® Baby Back Ribs
  • ½ Tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium Pacific Northwest apples
  • 1 qt. naturally fermented sauerkraut
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp. caraway seeds or 6 crushed juniper berries (optional)
  • ½ cup unoaked white wine

Directions

  1. Turn the ribs meat-side down on your cutting board. There’s a tough membrane (the "fell") running along the back, and it's best to remove this before cooking. Wiggle a butter knife between the membrane and one of the rib bones to loosen it. Do this in a second and a third spot, until you've loosened enough of the membrane to get a good grip. Pull it away from the ribs in a long strip.
  2. Cut the rack of ribs into four portions, slicing between the bones. Set them aside.
  3. Slice the onion, then peel the apples and chop them coarsely into ¼”-½” pieces. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, 3-quart saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onions and stir until they're translucent, but not browned. Add the apples and stir.
  4. Drain the sauerkraut in a colander and rinse it well. Add half of it to the pot, along with the bay leaf and the caraway seeds or juniper berries if you're using them. Nestle the rib portions into the sauerkraut and cover them with the remainder. Add the white wine, then cover the saucepan with its lid.
  5. Simmer the ribs gently for 90 minutes to 2 hours, until they're tender when pierced with a fork. Don't let them come to a full boil; doing so toughens the pork and takes away from the ribs' delicate texture.
  6. Serve the ribs over boiled yellow or fingerling potatoes, with a generous portion of sauerkraut and a choice of two or three good mustards.

Tips

This recipe can be readily scaled up to allow for more diners or larger appetites. Just double or triple everything and use a larger pot. For a full-scale "choucroute garnie," or loaded European-style sauerkraut, add another two or three kinds of meat. A piece of ham or smoked pork hock broadens the flavor, as does sausage. Sausage should be added halfway through the cooking time, because it doesn't need to cook as long.

For the best flavor, use one tart and one sweet apple. Chop them small to cook down completely, or leave a few larger pieces for textural contrast.

Any unoaked white wine is appropriate, but a German-style Riesling or Gewurztraminer adds to the dish's lush flavors. Alternatively, you might opt for a local apple or pear cider, or use beer instead of the wine. Avoid heavily hopped beers and ales, which can make the dish bitter. If you wish to avoid alcohol altogether, use apple juice.

This is an excellent make-ahead dish, because its flavors will continue to develop as it rests overnight in the fridge.

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