13 December 2010


I'm not a big meat-eater. We've gone through a few entirely vegetarian phases at our house, though I don't think we'll ever go back to that extreme. I've come to really appreciate meat as a feast-maker. I grew up always eating pastas and occasionally a big pan of lasagna or enchiladas for feasts. And they are still some of my favorite things. But, while bean burritos, and various meatless soup, and some meatless pastas fill in our everyday meals, some piece of meat has begun to be central to feasting.

And when do we feast? Well, I'm always looking for an excuse (birthdays, friends from out of town, anniversaries, a 4.0 semester, a new job), but... always on Sundays. It's the sabbath day. A day set apart by God for us. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for Man.

And especially on Sundays during Advent.

The First Sunday during Advent we had Beef Wellington. The Second Sunday, we had buttery, white bread with American cheese grilled cheeses and Shrimp and Potato Porridge. So, yeah, no meat. But, to hear the folks at my table, you'd have thought Advent was over and they had died and gone to heaven.
The Third Sunday, so yesterday, we went back to the meat theme. Meat meat meat! Because it's a feast feast feast.

When I first got married and started cooking a lot, I would hear accomplished family cooks say, "I just go to the grocery store, buy whats on sale, and cook that." I thought they were INSANE. It made me twitch to think about it.


If I could upload a picture of a twitch, I might upload two.

And on Friday, I went to the grocery store, there was a package of MEAT big time on sale - Manager's Special they call them - and so I just bought it. Having no idea what I would do to it. But I bought it anyway.

Country Style Ribs. This is not something you would expect to find me cooking. My cooking is not usually as light and airy as some of the current food fads - I like a good pile of very traditional mashed potatoes, or a very thick, vegetable heavy spaghetti sauce. But, at the same time, I haven't traditionally gone for greasy, dark meat, dripping in sauce yumminess.

I'm not opposed. I just was illprepared so to do. My mother wouldn't make country style ribs if you paid her. A lot of money. She didn't make pot roast, roasted chickens, or bearnaise sauce. We Eason women don't fry things. Like I said, we ate a lot of pasta. And some bean burritos.

I very much wish I had taken a picture of our plates last night. I'm not a big presentation girl - If it tastes good, that's the most important thing. But the plates were pretty. Braised Country Style BBQ Ribs, Crisp Roasted Asparagus, Baked Sweet Taters, Crunchy french bread.

What is braising? It is cooking for a while, usually on lower heat, in liquid. Usually a bigger, tougher piece of meat. It helps the meat get to that fall apart tender stage. I love it. Love, love it. It is different from roasting only in that you use a lot of liquid.

So, to the ribs:

I kind of made this up after reading about 20 recipes on the internet. Most had a BBQ element, some had orange. I always like rosemary with meat, especially paired with orange, everything benefits from a sprinkling of cayenne, etc.


3-4 lbs of country style ribs (You'll want 1 rib per person, and each rib will be 8-12 ounces, so at least half a pound per person, but perhaps a bit more)

Heavily salt and pepper all sides of ribs. In an ovenproof dutch oven, heat some olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Throw half of the ribs in there. Brown on each side about 2 minutes. Remove. Rinse. Repeat. (throw the other three ribs in there and brown on each side about 2 minutes...)
Add the first ribs back to the pan.

(If you don't have an oven proof dutch oven, you can brown and braise in separate containers. Brown in some kind of heavy bottomed pot, braise in a 9x13, covered in foil or somethin')

In a bowl, whisk together well:

1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, or make up 16 ounces or so of your own. (last night I used Corky's BBQ sauce)
1 1/2 cups of orange juice
1 Tablespoon or a little bit more of Worcestershire
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsps dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Once it's thoroughly whisked, pour it over the ribs. Cover the ribs. Pop them in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours. If you are going for the longer range of time (which will make your meat more tender), pull them out at half way through and rearrange them a bit. The ribs on the top will not have as much sauce on them. And you want sauce.

Pull them out of the oven. Let them rest for 15 minutes or so.

Put them on a plate, spoon a bit of sauce over them, pour rest of the sauce in a bowl and put it out for serving.

Our plates were pretty, like I said, but even more than that, the flavors were good together. Sweet taters, 'sparagus, bread, ribs.

If you are not an omnivore, well, that's okay (and I do sympathize), but you might consider it for special occasion feasting. We shouldn't be eating meat 3 times a day, 7 days a week (bad stewardship, bad for health), but God clearly gave us the animals - not just to be pretty - but for us to put on the altar. We don't do altars anymore (thank heavens), but we still feast (doubly thank heavens), so get a piece of meat, give thanks over it (because without God's grace, it wouldn't be there), cook it slowly and perfectly, and pour a glass of red wine.

To advent! To food! To friends! To family!

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