Ribs and sauerkraut cooked in either the slow cooker or in a "real" Dutch oven over coals or an open fire. The meat is moist and fall-off-the-bone tender, the sauerkraut amber-colored and apple-sweet. For Weight Watchers, just 4 PointsPlus or 3 Old Points.
When my parents returned from a short honeymoon at the family cottage in Manitoba’s Whiteshell, waiting on the stove was an inky-black cast iron skillet, a surprise from my grandmother.
So practical, that gift. My mother loved the story as much as the skillet which is still in use at my dad’s house more than fifty years later.
But is cast iron sexy enough for today? For the last few years, LeCreuset-style enamel-covered cast iron like braising pan has become the go-to wedding gift, still practical but sexy-red.
We’re still adding to our own collection of cast iron:
Four skillets of different sizes, including a six-inch mini skillet perfect for one egg or a mini batch of corn bread
A griddle that's great for Baked Bacon or baking a slew of burgers or meatballs
A grill pan for steaks and chops
Most recently, a “real” Dutch oven with feet for resting on coals or an open fire plus a footed lid, flip it over and it’s a flat cooking surface – again, so practical.
So begins my pursuit for a handful of go-to recipes for cooking outdoors, healthy and hearty both. First up, moist and falling-off-the-bone meaty ribs with apple-studded sauerkraut. It couldn’t be simpler – and it just might make cast iron sexy again. What a meal.
CARING for YOUR CAST IRON Clean cast iron with warm water and a soft scrub: never with soap, never with metal. If it hangs from a pot rack, cast iron can air dry, otherwise, dry well before storing. If a pot has a lid, dry the pot well and put a paper towel inside to absorb moisture, another on the lip before putting the lid on. To build the “black patina” of a well-seasoned pan, rub the pan’s interior with vegetable oil after every use at first, less often as the pan becomes seasoned. The very best way to season a cast iron skillet? Make fried chicken, I swear!
RIBS & SAUERKRAUT RECIPE
for SLOW COOKER or DUTCH OVEN
Cooking time: 4 - 8 hours for slow cooker, 60 - 90 minutes for Dutch oven
Serves 7 (assumes 14 ribs and 5 cups sauerkraut)
- 2-1/2 pounds meaty pork ribs
- 2 pounds sauerkraut, preferably from a jar or a bag
- 1 apple, chopped
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed
- Generous grind black pepper
- 1 cup white wine or apple cider
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 apple, skin on, cut in thin slices
Cut between the ribs to separate into individual ribs.
Drain and discard the sauerkraut liquid. If you like (see ALANNA’s TIPS), rinse and drain the sauerkraut.
Mix the Cooking Liquid in a small bowl.
FOR SLOW COOKER Brown the ribs on both sides, in batches if necessary. Arrange the ribs in the bottom of a five-quart or larger slow cooker. Top with the drained sauerkraut, chopped apple and Cooking Liquid. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. About 15 minutes before serving, arrange apple slices on top, let warm through.
FOR DUTCH OVEN Light 26 coals. As soon as lit, arrange 10 coals in a ring the width of the Dutch oven, place the Dutch oven on top of the coals to heat. When the pot is hot, brown the ribs on both sides, in batches if necessary. Arrange the ribs in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Top with sauerkraut, chopped apple and Cooking Liquid. Cover and place 16 coals around the perimeter of the lid. Let cook for 60 – 90 minutes, adding fresh coals as coals burn out, turning the pot a quarter turn every 15 minutes. About 15 minutes before serving, arrange apple slices on top, let warm through.
SERVE Serve with corn bread or cooked rice, the better to sop up the sauerkraut juices.
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