Root Beer-Braised RibsElizabeth Stark
If you’re planning something for Father’s Day, either for your own father or the father of your children or some abstract father like Father Time or the Founding Fathers, you’re probably in a tizzy right now, running around your kitchen, breaking crockery and shouting “What should I make? What should I make?” Calm down. If I may speak for all fathers (and I may), you should make these root beer ribs.
First of all, they’re ribs. Everybody likes ribs but fathers especially like ribs because they make him feel like even though he does the family laundry every week, he’s still the man he was before he had kids, because after all, he is eating meat off the bone.
Second of all, root beer. All dads like root beer. For one thing, it has beer in the name and dads like beer (If that’s true of the dad in your life, check out these awesome beer-related gift ideas.). For another, and this is especially true of high quality root beers, there’s a certain kick to it that makes it not feel like a kid’s drink, even though it’s soda. But most importantly for our purposes, when you braise pork ribs in it, they turn into something sweet and rich and amazing.
Finally, this is a very easy dish to make, you just need some time, but once it’s going, you can forget about it. This will leave more time for the father in your life to sit around fantasizing about how he would go about saving his family from terrorists should they ever be kidnapped by them, which is something fathers think about all the time.
Root Beer-Braised Ribs (adapted from the Noble Pig)
2 lbs. pork spare ribs
for the rub
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon spicy Hungarian paprika
for the braise
1 large red onion, minced
1″ section ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon cumin, crushed
1/4 teaspoon spicy Hungarian paprika
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 12 oz. bottle really good root beer
1 cup beef or chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprig fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat a large dutch oven over high heat. Rub the rib rack with salt, pepper, and paprika mixture. Using tongs, sear the ribs all over, cooking to a nice golden brown. Set them aside on a plate.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons oil form the dutch oven, turn heat to medium high, and add the onion. Cook until the edges have browned and the onions are tender. Add the ribs back in to the pot, as well as all of the braise ingredients. Bring the mixture to a good boil, cover, and then place in the oven.
Braise in the oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, turning the ribs halfway through. Remove the ribs from the oven. At this point you are free to proceed with step 2, though the recipe can be made up to this point and then refrigerated, which has the added bonus of letting you skim the considerable amount of fat.
Place the ribs in a large, deep skillet over low heat, and the dutch oven on a burner over high heat. Remove the bay leaves, and boil the sauce down for 20 minutes, until you achieve your desired thickness. As you stir the sauce, spoon a bit onto the ribs to achieve a nice glaze.
Cut up the ribs, smother with sauce and serve over polenta, rice, or potatoes.