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I took advantage of their generosity the other week when I received their Pantry Raid -- Spring Awakening menu in my inbox.
The Country Pork Ribs with White Beans and Kale immediately caught my eye. I love the succulent shoulder meat that is country pork "ribs." Kale is a recent favorite of mine, a super vegetable, chock full of flavor and nutrients. Plus there was the promise of ease and talk of this being an excellent week-night dinner.
They had my complete attention.
The ribs are not at all labor-intensive. Most of the ingredients are whizzed together in the blender. You will need a little time, but it isn't active time. Twenty minutes for marinating and about an hour to cook. Bathing the baby and putting him to sleep while this bubbles away in the oven is completely manageable.
The flavors are enticing. Orange juice, ginger, garlic, paprika and thyme combine wonderfully to give a mild exotic flavor. But the real experience is of sticky, salty-sweet. The meat is succulent, because the forgiving pork shoulder is quite fatty.
My favorite part of the dish was actually the beans and kale that rest below the hefty ribs. They are the recipient of the dripping pork juices and marinade, so they possess exceptional flavor. The cannellini beans browned a little bit on the edges and were positively addictive. The kale also took on a bit of caramelization, which was a nice change from all the rather moist greens that I normally consume.
The funny thing is that the recipe suggests that there will be sauce left in the pot to spoon over, when serving. This was not at all the case for me. I'm not sure if my oven was a little too hot or if the recipe is slightly off. I was happy with the results as is, but sauciness can prove delightful, so I would adjust the recipe a wee bit, as you'll see below.
The Tasting Table suggestion is to serve this with creamy polenta. While I am a passionate lover of soft, soupy polenta, I just don't agree with this pairing. The starchy beans don't need another starch accompaniment. I'd increase the beans and kale in the recipe, and serve them with another harder green vegetable. I opted for roasted asparagus.
The pork tasted great cold the following day when I gnawed at it standing in front of the refrigerator. I'd happily make this dish again, with the changes below.
Country Pork Ribs with White Beans and Kale
Original recipe at Tasting Table
1 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1//2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 pounds country spare ribs (about 4 meaty ribs)
2 bunches (about 1 pound) regular or Lacinato kale, stems removed, leaves shredded
2 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using a blender, blend the orange juice, oil, garlic, ginger, thyme, and paprika on high until completely combined. Put the ribs in a baking dish and cover with the marinade. The ribs should be well coated. Let rest on the counter for approximately 20 minutes.
In a large Dutch oven mix the kale with the beans, and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Rest the ribs on top of this mixture. Pour the marinade over. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Bake, uncovered, until the meat is cooked through and very tender, approximately 1 hour. Serve each rib with spoonful of the beans and kale. If sauce remains, spoon a little over.