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RBR Tailgating: Red Wine Braised Ribs

Closing out 2016 with big flavors for a big game.

There is no ancient Chinese curse that says “May you live in interesting times.” That doesn’t stop people from saying that there is.

Those who make a living checking into the origins of phrases a) have a job that I imagine is pretty interesting and b) say there is a likelihood that late 19th early 20th century British politician Joseph Chamberlain or his son Austin garbled an actual factual Chinese saying about it being better to be a dog in peace than a man in war and out of one of their mouth came the pseudo-Sino pox.

The first known written instance of the phrase is found in a March 1936 issue of The Yorkshire Post. After that it started popping up in everything from an RFK speech to a Terry Prachett novel to a Star Trek episode (Voyager, not one of the good ones).

The underlying assertion of the curse, whatever its provenance, is that though man (in the “mankind” sense of the word that also includes Bamagirlcj and the rest of our fairer readers) yearns for adventure and novelty, a predictable life is less fraught with danger. There’s a “you have no idea how you have it now.”

I bring this up because my children have no idea how good they have it now, at least in regards to football fandom.

My four year old says “Roll Tide” and “Yeah touchdown” when engaged but I suspect he has more interest in trying to get our Echo Dot to say “poop” than in paying attention to what’s going on in the game. Still, he knows that Alabama wins.

My ten year old does not remember a time when Alabama wasn’t coached by Nick Saban. To him, Alabama in championship contention is the natural state of things. And why wouldn’t he? It’s been 1/8th of his life since the Tide last dropped a game.

He’s never watched a playoff that didn’t include us. To be fair, none of us has, but as adults we are cognizant of what an accomplishment that is and how much it takes to maintain the level of excellence we are witnessing. He takes it as a given.

If they only knew what a gilded football age we are living in. I’m worried what will happen to my kid’s poor little psyches when (self flagged for not saying “if” but we all know in our heart of hearts that at some point in the next lifetime someone at the Capstone will hire another Mike) things are less predictable and less stable. Winning seasons won’t always be a given. This won’t be the fun kind of loss of innocence for them. I wish I could spare them from the West Yorkshire curse.

But the interesting times are not here yet and I’m reveling in this run. To celebrate our return to the playoffs I made a very simple but really flavorful rack of ribs. There’s about twenty minutes of cutting and stirring in the beginning, but after that it’s practically hands free.

Red Wine Braised Pork Ribs

1 rack of pork ribs (2-3 lbs.)

½ medium yellow onion, diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

2 ribs celery, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, smashed

4-5 sprigs of thyme

2 ½ cups dry red wine

1 cup chicken stock

2 filets anchovy packed in oil

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

I used a St. Louis cut rack of ribs because that’s what they had at the store, but regular cut or even short ribs will be fine.

If you followed my example and got a rack, cut it in half so that it fits in the bottom of a wide sauce pan or Dutch oven and liberally add salt and pepper.

Pour a few glugs of olive oil in the pan over high heat and sear the meat for a minute or two on each side until it’s lightly browned.

Remove the meat and reduce heat to medium. Add the onion and sauté for roughly five minutes until translucent. Next add the carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté for another three to four minutes.

Pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Make sure to scrape up any bits of burned meats on the bottom of the pan and stir them into the sauce. Tie the thyme sprigs together with some cooking twine and toss it in along with the chicken stock and a pinch of salt.

I’m expecting to get some resistance about the anchovies. For those that balk, it’s actually pretty common to include them in braises for all manner of meats. They add a savory flavor that foodies and other subsectors of hipsters call umami. Any fishiness pretty much vanishes as the filets dissolve in the sauce. If I haven’t sold you, consider that anchovies are one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce so you’ve probably been adding them to all manner of dishes without even realizing it.

Anyway, chop the filets finely and add them to the pan, give it a good stir, reduce the heat to a low simmer and put the ribs back into pot, submerging them as best you can in the liquid.

Set a timer for an hour and go watch football.

After an hour, flip the meat and set the timer for another hour. Go watch more football.

After the second hour, pull the meat and cut into individual ribs, puree the sauce and correct for salt, and serve. I had mine with some of the sauce, roasted potatoes, and a few radishes but I imagine this would be pretty damn good with black eyed peas and collards on New Year’s Day.

Others who are far more qualified than I have already written on these electronic pages about how good the Huskies are and what they bring to the table so I’ll settle for reminding everyone how lucky we are to play in these games as often as we have lately. Here’s to hoping UW doesn’t make it interesting.

Enjoy. No Injuries. Roll Tide.