Salt and Pepper Ribs

Here is a winner for the whole family.

The interesting thing about whole peppercorns is that when you cook them for a long time (2 hours or more) they lose some of their intense heat and leave you with a wonderful peppery aroma. So don’t be afraid of using a good amount of pepper here. Try it once according to the recipe and see how you like it. You can adjust it either way the next time.

This recipe takes 2 hours to cook, but requires very little work during those two hours.

I find that cooking with some of the wine you will be serving is an easy way to ensure a good match between the food and wine. It adds depth to the food, and it brings the flavors of the food a bit closer to those in the wine.

This dish pairs beautifully with the Merlot.

Yield: 4 portions

  • 3 ¾ pounds St.Louis Style Pork Ribs
  • 4 teaspoons whole peppercorn blend
  • (I like the Morton & Bassett Rainbow Peppercorn Mix)
  • Coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle (see photo)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt, from a salt grinder
  • ½ cup Merlot
  • ½ cup Chicken Stock (or store-bought chicken broth: unsalted)
  • 1tablespoon cornstarch

Directions

Ask your butcher to cut the ribs into five pieces of approximately equal size.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with the salt and pepper. Place ribs, with the curved side of the ribs up, in a 11” x 15” glass baking dish and place in the oven uncovered. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour off any fat that has accumulated on the bottom of the baking dish.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Turn ribs so the curved side are down, and they touch the bottom of the baking dish. Pour in chicken stock and merlot. Cover tightly with foil or a lid and bake for an additional 1 ½ hours until you can easily pull the bones out of the ribs.

Remove ribs from the baking dish and pour the juices into a small sauce pan. Carefully remove the fat from the top of the juices in the sauce pan. Place this on a medium heat until it begins to simmer.

Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water to make a thick, smooth slurry. While the juices are simmering, whisk in a little of the slurry into the juices to thicken. Add only what you need to make a lightly thickened sauce that will just coat the back of a spoon. Simmer very slowly for 5 minutes to allow the cornstarch to fully cook. Add a little wine or water back in to the sauce if you think you have reduced it too much.

Serve the ribs right out of the pan, or finish them on the grill for 5 minutes on each side over a low to medium grill. Once they come off the grill, serve them immediately with the curved side up (it should have great color from cooking in the merlot). Pour the sauce over the top of the ribs.

If you’ve got any extra ground Rainbow Peppercorns, serve these to your guests for those who would like it hotter.

Enjoy with a glass of Merlot.

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