Recently a friend prepared roasted pork bellies as an appetizer. I liked it so much I prepared a modified version using country-style spare ribs. The main cooking theme is low temperature, long cook time with the bellies layered atop sliced wedges of Granny Smith apples. What I discovered was that with a little modification the apples become a major feature of the recipe. The process is fairly easy as long as you plan ahead.
While shopping earlier in the week, I found a nice small package of center cut country-style bone-in spare ribs:
Center Cut Bone-in Country Style Spare Ribs
A day head, if you want, dry rub the spare ribs and refrigerate, covered, for 14 to 18 hours. I used a quarter cup of basic pork dry rub augmented by an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons of cracked anise seed.
Spare Ribs with Dry Rub Applied
Preheat the oven to Convection Roast 300° F. Prepare your mise en place:
Core and cut apples into wedges
First, core the Granny Smith apples and then cut into wedges lining the bottom of your cooking vessel. I used a Le Creuset cast iron pot with cover. To the pot add 2 ounces of apple cider vinegar and 2 ounces of white wine, I favor Prairie Fumé from Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin, it is a very crisp, clean, un-oaked wine. Place the spare ribs atop the apples and dab with barbecue sauce to taste. I was out of our home-made sauce so I used Sweet Baby Ray’s, it has a fairly mild, sweet taste.
Ready for the oven
Using my cook-top, I brought the liquids to a quick simmer before covering the pot and placing in the oven; I didn’t want a cold cast iron pot to draw down the oven temperature.
Cooked Spare Ribs
After cooking for 2 hours, turn the temperature down to 275° F and then 1 hours later, slightly crack the lid to allow some of the steam and liquid to escape, browning the spare ribs; cook for another 1/2 hour then remove the lid and cook for 1/2 hour more.
Remove the spare ribs and keep warm.
Scrape the apple mixture into a colander and strain off as much of the pork essence that you can. Discard the fat:
Excess fat rendered
Mash the apple confit to the consistency of applesauce. Layer some of the apple confit on the plate then top with spare ribs. Add your vegetables du jour and serve while still hot.