Special To The Washington Post
Nomenclature-wise, country-style pork ribs are a mystery. They don’t come from the rib section of the animal, and they are often sold boneless. But tastewise, they make all the sense in the world. Delicious to a fault and wonderfully moist, these "ribs" look like thick and fatty pork chops. If you have never tried them before, you are in for a treat.
You can cook this cut a bunch of ways, but it happens to be especially well suited to braising, becoming tender and generating a deeply flavored sauce as it goes. Here, we have amped up its natural porkiness with the cured form of Spanish chorizo, a pork sausage spiked with paprika. In this recipe, though, we saute the dried chorizo, which releases some of its fat, and then braise it with the ribs.
On the chance that fresh late-summer tomatoes are still gracing your local market, those are the ones to use. But canned chopped whole tomatoes will fill the bill, too. Just be sure to add their juices.
This recipe in whole — pork ribs, chorizo, veggies and chickpeas — is notably hearty. Even so, you will want to do your best to soak up all of its sauce, which is why I recommend serving it with a starch such as Spanish rice. Also, good as it is freshly made, this dish improves over time. You can refrigerate it two or three days ahead, or freeze it..
COUNTRY-STYLE PORK RIBS WITH CHORIZO TOMATO SAUCE
Serve with Spanish rice and broccoli rabe
2 1⁄2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
3 lbs boneless country-style pork ribs (1 to 1 1⁄2 inches thick)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Spanish-style cured chorizo, halved lengthwise and then sliced crosswise into 1⁄4-inch half-moons (see Tips)
1 C seeded, thinly sliced red bell pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Cs chopped fresh or canned, low-sodium tomatoes, with their juices
1 cup dry rosé or white wine
3 TBS flour
Two 15 1⁄2-ounce cans low-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 Cs total)
1 C loosely packed chopped cilantro, for serving
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, straight-sided saute pan (not cast-iron) over MEDIUM-HIGH heat. Season the ribs lightly on all sides with salt and pepper, then add them to the skillet and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer them to a plate. Discard the fat, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
Add the chorizo to the pan; cook over LOW heat for about 2 minutes, stirring often, until it has given off some of its fat and turned a shade darker. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chorizo to the plate with the ribs, leaving its fat in the pan.
Add the remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon of oil, the onion and the bell pepper to the pan; increase the heat to MEDIUM-LOW heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine, the browned ribs, the rendered chorizo, any accumulated juices from the plate and enough water to just cover the ribs. Increase the heat to HIGH; once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to MEDIUM so the liquid is barely bubbling at the edges.
Cut a round of parchment paper the size of the top of the skillet. Crumple the paper so it will fit/stay in place over the ribs and sauce, tucking it down around the sides, and cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Cook the ribs for 2 to 2 1⁄2 hours or until they are very tender, checking a few times to make sure the liquid level remains adequate; add water as needed.
Transfer the ribs to a plate.
Place the flour in a medium bowl; whisk in 1⁄4 cup water to form a smooth slurry.
Increase the heat to HIGH so the sauce in the pan comes to a boil; add the flour slurry in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes to form a thickened sauce, stirring to avoid scorching.
Add the chickpeas and then return the ribs to the skillet; reduce the heat to MEDIUM-LOW and cook just until heated through.
To serve, divide among individual plates. Spoon a generous amount of the chickpea sauce over the ribs and top with cilantro.
Tips: Look for Spanish chorizo that is dry-cured, not fresh, in your grocer’s deli department. It can be mild or hot — your preference.