By Riki Shore
Earlier this week I was singing the praises of the local wild fish and seafood available in North Carolina. I would be remiss if I didn’t also talk about pigs in this state.
North Carolina is, of course, renowned for its BBQ, a pulled pork variety that gets doused in a chile-spiked vinegar sauce. When it’s done well, it’s delicious. It can also be a very affordable, gluten-free dinner out, so I’ve always opted not to tackle it in my own kitchen.
But my local butcher counter boasts all kinds of local pork cuts: loins, chops, shoulders, and yes, ribs. Last week the spare ribs caught my eye and before I knew it I had two racks in my shopping cart.
Little secret: I’d never cooked spare ribs before. I’m Jewish, so my mother never cooked spare ribs either!
Once home, I perused my trusty kitchen notebook and found a rib recipe from Andrea Reusing, who cooks NC pork in her restaurant Lantern to great effect. Here are the ingredients I had written down, which I followed to a T. Everyone loved these and the leftovers were amazing tucked into a fresh corn tortilla with my signature guacamole and sliced white onion.
2 pounds pork spare ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 dried chile
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the ribs on a broiler rack. Drizzle all over with the olive oil.
2. Sprinkle the ribs liberally with salt and pepper.
3. In a spice or clean coffee grinder, grind the fennel seeds and dried chile to powder. Sprinkle this mixture all over the ribs, rubbing the spices into the oil.
4. Bake the ribs for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for another 70 – 80 minutes, until the meat is very tender and falls off the bone when poked with a fork.
5. Using tongs and a sharp knife, separate the ribs into individual pieces. Serve on a platter with plenty of napkins.