Fortunately, my ambition was recently bolstered by the Friends & Family Market here in Ellsworth. This fantastic store is a combination gas station, corner store, produce market, deli and butcher. The butcher offers meat packages at a discount. For $30, I completely stocked my freezer with this...
In the lower left of the above picture there is 2.5 lbs sweet italian sausage. Along with that came:
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 lbs. boneless pork country spareribs
2 lbs. chuck stew beef
Some other options for this meat package were:
- 2 lbs. london broil steak
- 2 lbs. bottom round roast
- 2 lbs. beef cube steak
- 3 lbs. pork sirloin cutlets
- 2 lbs. italian meatballs
- 2 lbs. slab bacon
- 5 lbs chicken thighs
In homage to my mother, I separated and re-wrapped individual portions of everything to make "freezer shopping" all that much easier.
Of all of my selections, the only one I had never cooked before were the pork spareribs. Unfortunately, the internet falls woefully short on imaginative recipes for this particular cut of meat.
So, for my first go-around with these beautifully marbled pieces of pork I made a version of bbq spareribs.
Don't get me wrong. These were certainly delicious. Tender, succulent meat in a sweet, tangy, tomato-y sauce. (I would have preferred mashed potatoes, but didn't have any that day. So instead I starched this lunch up with a bit of white rice.)
I still felt a yawn coming on. Honestly, I'd eaten something like this 800,000 times before.
But now that I knew what to do with the meat, I could change things up the second time around. I went directly to that cookbook my sister got me. In it, Joe has a recipe for Pastoral Tacos. He flavors pork cutlets with Mexican spices and adds "traditional garnishes of onion, cilantro, pineapple and lime." All I had to do was fold these flavors into the existing recipe and ta-dah... pork ribs pastoral.
The meat barely held together as I was putting it in the bowl.Ingredients:
1 lb. country-style boneless pork ribs
1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 can (6 oz) pineapple juice
1 small can (8 oz) pineapple chunks (packed in 100% juice, NOT heavy syrup)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 c. water
1 medium onion, diced
1 fresh jalapeno, minced
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the following ingredients:
- lime juice
- red pepper
- pineapple juice
- pineapple chunks
- brown sugar
- soy sauce
- tomato paste
In a dutch oven or large oven-proof skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Dredge the pork pieces in all purpose flour and brown in the hot oil until each side is a dark golden brown. Pull the pork out and set it aside. Add the onion and jalapeno and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
Add the sauce to the pan, along with the 1 cup of water. Bring it to a boil and nestle the pork pieces in the sauce. Cover and place the pot in the oven. Let it cook for 90 minutes, turn the pork and cook for another 90 minutes.
Serve over plain white rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro (or fresh parsley if you hate cilantro).