Beef and pork ribs come from one of the tenderest portions of the animal, yet the meat that surrounds the rib bones themselves tends to be tough and chewy. On the other hand, it is well-marbled and richly flavored, which is why ribs are so loved and appreciated. Ribs can be cooked by any slow-cooking method, but browning them in a cast-iron skillet and finishing them slowly is an easy, useful technique.
Cut the back ribs into half- or quarter-rack portions. Preheat your cast-iron skillet over a medium-high burner. Use two skillets for a larger quantity of ribs.
Pour 1 tbsp. of hot oil into the skillet. Sear the ribs until browned on the front and sides of each portion.
Arrange the ribs in the skillet, once browned, and add the wine or broth. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer on the stovetop at low heat. You can also place them in a preheated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Simmer or bake the ribs until they are fork-tender--up to three hours on the stovetop or as long as four hours in the oven. You may need to add some water midway through cooking, if you are using the stovetop.
Wrap the ribs loosely with aluminum foil and keep them warm for 10 minutes before serving.
To make a sauce for the ribs, strain the cooking juices and skim off the fat, then reduce them until they coat the back of a spoon. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper, then serve with the ribs.
Slow-cooked ribs can be finished on the barbecue for extra flavor and darker browning.
The same technique can be used for beef short ribs or country-style pork ribs.
- "The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pan in Your Kitchen"; Sharon Kramis, et al.; 2004
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.