I’ve never cooked ribs before, but the other day they were on sale for $1.29 a pound – how could I resist? particularly when these were “country style ribs,” already cut apart and trimmed quite cleanly. Little fat, no butchering to be done. How could I not try?
Except, of course, for that whole “ribs tend to be tough” thing. Cooking ribs well is regarded as a serious challenge. Marinate, boil, slow bake, grill. Hours of work and even that is not always enough to render ribs tender.
So what was I thinking, pulling a package of ribs out of the fridge at 5pm for dinner last night?
Well, I was trusting in the magic of the most amazing appliance in my kitchen: my pressure cooker. Because everything I’d read about ribs and pressure cookers indicated that they were the perfect match. And if you’re going to go for it, you just plain go for it.
The first thing with cooking any meat in the pressure cooker is avoiding the horrible gray of boiled meat. With that in mind, I heated some olive oil in the cooker, sprinkled salt, pepper and some garlic powder on the ribs, and started half of them browning.When it was time to turn them, I grabbed those seasonings up to sprinkle on the other side before turning.
This is when the wheels came off the cart.
Top tip: when you have a 4-ounce container of ground pepper, and you want to shake some of that pepper over a pot of ribs, do make sure that you’ve opened the shaker side of the top, not the open side.
As a general rule, most recipes don’t call for half a cup of ground pepper.
After the screaming and swearing, however, something had to be done. Fortunately, this early in the process the damage was not irredeemable. I plucked each rib out and rinsed off the pepper, then gave the pot a quick rinsing out. That disaster set aside, I continued with the browning.
Once both sets of ribs were browned, I put them all in the pot and poured in a jar of barbecue sauce that was given to me by a restauranteur who’s working on marketing this particularly lovely sauce – if it gets on the market, I will definitely let everyone know about it. Some additional water was required to cover the ribs, then I put them under high pressure for 15 minutes.
Once the ribs were done and the pressure released, I moved them onto a broiling pan and covered them with aluminum foil, then reduced the sauce. I coated the ribs with the sauce and broiled them just long enough to caramelize the sauce.
And, oh my. The meat just fell off the bone, completely tender and delicious. Our doubts about the efficiency of pressure cooking ribs were annihilated–and so were the ribs.