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Ribs (Costillas) Slow Cooked with Sidra and Deep Fried, Served with a North Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce

Sidra is a big part of the culture here in the Asturias region of Spain. It is customary to pour the beverage from an abnormally large distance from the glass, as it is mostly uncarbonated, and the small quantity of sidra poured is supposed to be consumed immediately (see video for example). Shout out to my homie Rocky here in Gijon who provided the inspiration for this dish. This video shows an approach to cooking ribs (costillas) that are salted, browned, steamed in sidra, breaded, and then deep-fried. It sounds complicated, but it's surprisingly straight-forward, with minimal required ingredients. It does take some time, as the ribs need to cook at low hear for a while to get tender and juicy.

The next time I make this, I would wet brine or dry brine my ribs a day or two in advance of cooking. I would also cook the ribs at a lower temperature, for a longer period of time before deep-frying, but I can't really complain. The sauce was really nice.

The one recipe you should write down here is that riff on an apple cider vinegar-based North Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce. I make a version of this standard NC-Style BBQ sauce in tiny quantities at least once a week, but this version included the drippings from the ribs and reduced sidra.

(Side note, my wife claims this sauce is really good with queso fresco, and that she discovered this by mistake...)

The sidra (cider) reduces down with the rendered pork fat to create a pork-heavy & gelatinous flavor base for all sorts of sauces. For instance, if you wanted to take that base in the honey-mustard direction, you would do well.

Ingredients for the Ribs Cooked in Sidra:

1 rack of Baby Back Ribs (costillas)

3 tsp Kosher salt

2 Tbsp sunflower seed oil, for browning the ribs

1/4 cup sidra, for steaming the ribs

Instructions for the Ribs Cooked in Sidra:

(1) Remove the thin film layer from the bone-side of the ribs, if it is still left on. See video for details:

(2) Salt the ribs on the meat side.

(3) Place 2 Tbsp sunflower seed oil in a hot pan and increase heat to high.

(4) When the oil is almost smoking, add your ribs with the meat side down. I cut them in half to make sure that they fit.

(5) Brown the ribs on the meat site only, and return to a plate.

(6) Preheat the oven to 250F.

(7) Wrap the ribs in foil with 1/4 cup sidra (Asturian cider), and more Kosher salt if desired.

(8) Cooked the ribs for 2-2.5 hours, or until they have arrived at their desired tenderness.

(9) At this stage, you can prepare the BBQ sauce listed below at enjoy, or you can follow the steps to coat the ribs in the breading using the standard breading procedure listed below. The BBQ sauce is a must, though.

(10) Either way, enjoy!

Ingredients for the North Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce:

1/2 cup pork fat & sidra drippings from the ribs that you cooked

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 or 3 Tbsp Ketchup

1 tsp red pepper flakes (a giant pinch)

1/8 tsp Kosher salt (a very tiny pinch)

1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely-sliced, as garnish (optional)

Instructions for the North Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce:

(1) Mix the ingredients listed above in a bowl. This is your sauce.

(2) Serve your homemade sauce with the slow-cooked, and then deep-fried ribs.

(3) Garnish with chives (optional), I like herbs, personally.

Ingredients for the Standard Breading Procedure:

(1) Flour, seasoned if desired

(2) Eggs, whisked thoroughly

(3) Bread crumbs, of you desired consistency.

*As a side note on ketchup: In the US, I wonder what the heck competitors of Heinz are doing, cause the generic off-brand diner ketchup varietals I experienced were consistently...clearly not as good as Heinz. To the point where Heinz just became my go-to lifetime purchase decision, without a question, where I wouldn't even consider risking trying something new.

Here in Spain, there is rock solid generic competition at supermarket chain level for ketchup, to the point where I am so super impressed that I feel it's worth shouting from the rooftops. For example, the Hacienda brand name associated with the Mercadona supermarket chain here in Spain is doing ketchup right.

I'm still a bit surprised to this day, and I keep buying it. I was a Heinz ketchup guy for life--no exceptions. Hacienda brand generic Ketchup?--wow, this stuff is actually good.

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