The Best Stovetop Ribs: Arroz con Costillas de Cerd (Mexican Rice with Ribs of Pig)
Pork is a major constituent in the Mexican diet as are peppers, onions, tomatoes, and rice. This traditional old peasant dish uses them all and elevates itself from everyday fare to something special. You can use country ribs or spareribs in this prep, but do not use baby backs. They are too curvy to brown properly in a pan. Country ribs will take longer than spare ribs because the meat is thicker, and because they really are chops, not ribs.
Best of all, they are cooked indoors making it the perfect thing to cook on cold winter days.
Makes. Four servings.
Takes. 30 minutes for preparation, and up to 2 hours for cooking.
1 ancho (dried poblano) pepper
6 slices of smoked bacon
2 ounces cured, smoked ham or Canadian-style bacon, diced
2 medium onions, diced
3 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño (leave the seeds and ribs in)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon capers
12 green olives with pimentos
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 teaspoons Chipotle Tabasco for a mild heat
8 country ribs or 1 slab of spareribs cut into individual ribs
1 can (19 ounces) garbanzos (chickpeas)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups rice
1 tablespoon salt
About the ribs. Spare ribs will take only about 60 to 90 minutes to get tender, but country ribs, which are really chops not ribs, have thicker meat and may take longer, up to 2 hours.
1) Split the ancho, discard the seeds and stem, and tear it into large flat pieces. Heat a large, deep non-stick frying pan, on medium. Place the ancho pieces in the pan and press them down with a spatula for 30 to 60 seconds, just enough to toast them or until steam rises. Turn them over and repeat. This amps up the flavor. Set them aside, and when they cool, break them into 1/2" pieces.
2) Add the bacon to the hot pan, and cook until it starts rendering fat.
3) Turn the heat down to medium. Add the meat to the pan and brown them in the bacon fat on both sides. If you are using spareribs, do the best you can to brown them on the meaty side or brown them under the broiler.
4) If the bacon is getting crisp, remove it. Otherwise, leave it in the pan. Remove the pork and toss in the ham, peppers, and onions. Cook until they are limp, stirring occasionally.
5) Add the tomato sauce, olives, capers, ancho, oregano, Tabasco, and meat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, just above low. Stir and simmer uncovered until tender, an hour for spare ribs, longer for country ribs and chops, perhaps 2 hours. If you are not using a non-stick pan, stir occasionally to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom of the pan. If the liquid gets too thick and too low, add a bit more water.
6) After the ribs have simmered for 25 minutes, in another pot, boil four cups water and the salt. Add the rice, cover, and cook for 30 minutes until ready or follow the directions on the box. Tip: to keep rice from sticking to the cooker or pot, coat it lightly with vegetable oil.
7) About three minutes before serving, add the garbanzos to the ribs. Serve by scooping the rice onto a plate and place the ribs and liquid on top. Serve with a bottle of hot sauce on the side.
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