MEAT OF THE MONTH: PORK RIBS!

Not since Adam’s rib has there been a more amazing creation than the pork rib. And the pork ribs the world loves best are from the American South. Barbecued outdoors, the complex melange of sensations includes a glistening mahogany sheen, porcine richness, silky mouthfeel, springy texture, and succulent juiciness that is kissed by seductive smoke, then hugged by sauciness that is sweet-tart-spicey-hot, and finally, licked by fire to make it crunch.

But ribs are revered and prepared differently around the world. Italian ribs are roasted with herbs, Mexican ribs are braised in a rich melange of peppers and tomatoes, Polish ribs are steamed in a pot with cabbage and potatoes, and Chinese ribs are exotic with hoisin sauce, five spice powder, and sesame oil. And beef ribs from the Republic of Texas are flavored with nothing more than salt, cracked pepper and smoke.

Although this site and my forthcoming book have wonderful recipes from many cultures, most of my focus is on Southern ribs, a style created by African slaves and as uniquely American as their other great contributions to American culture: Jazz and the blues.

anatomy of a rib

 

Appearance. When rubbed, smoked over wood, and then glazed with a tomato-based sauce in the traditional fashion, Amazing Ribs have a deep ruddy glow with a glistening saucy sheen. The bones stick out only slightly, and the exposed marrow has usually turned black. If you pull two bones apart, the meat splits into long fibrous chards, dripping with moisture. Just below the sauce and the dark brown crust, called the bark, is a bright pink layer, about 1/8″ deep, called the smoke ring, a stamp of authenticity that comes from smoke, humidity, combustion gases, myoglobin in the meat, and magic. The rest of the meat is a khaki tan, glistening with moisture from meat juices, melted collagen, and fats.

Scent. The first thing to grab you by your nose is the seductive, aphrodisiac scent of hardwood turned to smoke. It is ethereal, sweet and fragrant – better than the best pipe tobacco. Woven in is usually a hint of caramelized sugar, like roasted marshmallows. And tieing it all together is usually a sharp vinegar thread. There should be an elegant undertone of wood smoke, perhaps with a hint of bacon, but not so much that it dominates, and definitely no bitterness or ashtray flavors. All this hovers above the bass notes: The seductive scent of roasted pork.

Pork flavor. Pork has a wonderful flavor, particularly some of the better breeds of pork. Whatever we do to the meat in the prep and the cooking should not kill the delicate essence of pork. That’s the biggest problem with restaurant ribs. So many of them are boiled or held in warming ovens for so long that their natural meatiness is destroyed. They taste, and look, gray.

Seasonings. The seasonings, usually a spice rub, brine, or marinade must embed in the meats surface and enhance it, but not overwhelm it. Salt and pepper are usually big players, as are paprika, brown sugar, garlic and other essences.

Sauce. The sauce must complement and compliment the meat and smoke flavors. It is usually rich and slightly sweet to counterbalance the saltiness of the rub, but not cloying, with a zippy pepperiness and an acidic bite to counterbalance the sweetness. A hint of savory from herbs is a nice touch. It must remain subtle so as to not overwhelm the other components, and there should not be so much that it is gummy and goopy. In some places, especially along the Carolina coast, sauce is tart and vinegary, with heat and no sweet.

rib bones

Texture. Below the sauce, the surface of the meat should have a crusty bark, a little crunchy and a little chewy. It should be tender yet still retain resistance and resilience when you bite into it, like a steak. It should pull off the bone cleanly and with little effort, leaving behind bare bone, but it should not fall off the bone. If it falls off the bone, chances are it has been boiled or steamed.

Moisture. The meat should be moist and juicy but not wet or mushy. The juices should come out during chewing, not cooking, and coat the tongue with flavor. Your salivary glands should not have to work too hard to spread the taste and lubricate the meat for swallowing.

Balance. The sum of all the parts must be harmonious. A glorious complex symphony of textures, aromas, and flavors, with none so strong as to dominate and mask the others. The sum of the parts should be greater than each piled on top of the other. Ahhhhhhhh.

SOURCE:AMAZINGRIBS.COM

PORK

Country-Style Ribs Basics

Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin. The meatiest variety of ribs, country-style ribs are sold either as “slabs” or in individual servings. These pork ribs are perfect for those who want to use a knife and fork.

Ribs are commonly prepared with either “wet” or “dry.” Ribs rubbed with a mixture of herbs and spices are called dry ribs. Such rubs can be applied just before barbecuing. Ribs basted with sauces during the barbecuing process are called wet ribs. For best results, brush ribs generously during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Meat Counter Tips

Do not use a fork to turn the pork cuts as they cook. The piercing causes juices to escape. Use tongs to turn.

Popular Cooking Methods

Chop Basics

Pork chops are the most popular cut from the pork loin, which is the strip of meat that runs from the pig’s hip to shoulder. Depending on where they originate, pork chops can be found under a variety of names, including loin, rib, sirloin, top loin and blade chops.

Porterhouse Pork Chops are from the lower back (just behind the rib chop) and have a characteristic T-bone shape. These chops include a lot of meat as well as a bit of tenderloin meat. Ribeye Pork Chops originate in the center of the loin in the rib area and include some back and rib bone. Sirloin Pork Chops come from the area around the hip and often include part of the hip bone. New York Pork Chops (sometimes called Center Cut Chops) are boneless and located above the loin chops, toward the head. The 1¼ inch-thick top loin chop is also called an “America’s Cut.”  Blade chops are cut from the beginning of the loin in the shoulder area. They may contain some blade bone as well as back-rib bone. Blade chops are usually thicker and more marbled. They often are butterflied and sold as pork loin country-style ribs.

It’s important to note that all pork chops cook the same. The length of cooking primarily depends on the thickness of the chop. Thickness can vary from ½ to 2 inches. Whether you choose chops boneless for convenience or chops with the bone attached for their attractive appearance, the cooking time is the same. Pork chops are likely the least intimidating of all pork cuts because they are so easy to prepare.

SOURCE: PORK BE INSPIRED

MEAT OF THE MONTH: CHICKEN!!!

April is the month of Chicken! Get ready for everything CHICKEN! Chickens have SO many ways to be prepared, cooked and can be eaten off the bone or put in a fancy dish! Readfield Meats & Deli offer chicken in many forms. Raw chickens can be purchased by the whole, the quarter, and boneless skinless breasts. Looking for something completely different? Check out our freezer section for cornish hens and baking hens. Cornish hens are $3.49 each and baking hens are $1.49 per pound and weigh approx. 6 pounds. We also have stuffed chicken.

We also roast chickens EVERY DAY. This is an easy meal for the parent on the go! Or take a step out of a dish and use the already prepared roasted chicken (ex. Chicken Spaghetti). Prices for our roasted chickens are: whole ($6.99+tax), half ($3.79+tax), breast quarter ($2.49+tax), and leg quarter ($1.69+tax).

Looking for Chicken deli items?

Readfield Meats and Deli carries two Boar’s Head Chicken products: Lemon Pepper Chicken and Buffalo Chicken. All of our deli items are sliced to order. We also make our very own Readfield’s Chicken Salad. Our chicken salad comes in two forms: “The Regular” and “The Doctored up”  (which has black olives and cheddar cheese added). Chicken salad can be purchased in a sandwich ($3.49+tax) or by the pound ($7.99/pound). You can get enough for just one person or for a whole of group of people!

Here is an idea: With the weather being so nice, why not grill chicken at your next event or on a Saturday afternoon?

Our specialty reach-in cooler has the perfect chicken item for you: marinated chicken fajitas! This item takes out the preparation time so you can get to grilling! We also have our in-store-made chicken diablos- (jalapeno, cream cheese/ cheddar cheese & bacon wrapped chicken). They are 4 for $7.00! YUM. Sure to be a hit! Needing to stock up on chicken seasonings? Try William’s Chicken Tickler or Lysanders All Natural Meat Rub for Chicken.

Tired of making the same ‘ol meals and ready to switch it up a bit for spring? Check out the food network here for chicken recipes!