Tomatillo Braised Country Spare Ribs with Potatoes & Chard

I recently ordered Country style pork ribs, which I thought would be a good substitute for Spare Ribs for barbecuing, but I was surprised by what I got. Then I did my homework and learned that this cut is quite different. They are from the loin section and are the meatiest of the rib cuts, but not well suited for eating with your hands, but like all rib cuts besides the center loin, they benefit from braising (slow cooking with liquid). Then I stumbled upon a recipe from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Kitchen, which turned out fabulous! Here is my adaptation of that recipe, which by the way, would work very well with chicken (thighs, legs – something with bones), lamb (shanks or shoulder) or beef (short ribs, shanks or even stew meat).

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Recipe – (takes about 2-2.5 hrs start to finish)

  • 2 packs (~2 lbs) country style spare ribs or pork blade chops, sprinkled with salt
  • 1 lb husked tomatillos (or roasted a bit under the broiler until a bit blistered if you want to add that smoky taste)
  • 1-2 seeded jalapenos or 2-3 serrano chiles with seeds, roughly chopped
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1-2 lbs peeled and roughly chopped potatoes
  • 1/2 – 1 bunch of kale, washed & sliced into strips (or purslane from the farmer’s market, which is more traditional according to Bayless and gives a more sour taste)
  • a pinch of cumin

Preheat oven to 325F.

First make the tomatillo sauce: Roughly puree the tomatillos with 1/2 cup water, the chiles, salt and cilantro.

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The Meat & Potatoes: Brown the salted pork in a dutch oven or heavy oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. This will take 10-15 min. Transfer to a plate.

Next, sautee the onions for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cumin and after 1-2 minutes, add the green tomatillo sauce. Bring to a boil.

Add the meat back into the pot, cover and put it into the oven for 45 min.

Add the potatoes, push them under the sauce, cover again and bake another 20 minutes or so.

Finishing with the Greens: At this point you can let it sit on the counter until mealtime. Just reheat on the stove. Just before serving, add the chard to the hot contents of the pot and bake or cook on stove 10 more minutes, covered.

Serve alongside some fresh cilantro sprigs and enjoy!

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