I decided to pair them with a mayo-free potato salad that's been on my list since last summer, and I don't know why I waited all this time to make it. The pungency of the mustard paired really nicely with the ribs. To round it out I chose grilled asparagus because, well, it's spring, and asparagus is dirt cheap. It's also really, really pretty.
This is definitely more of a weekend meal, I wouldn't try to cram this into a weeknight - you do not want to rush the pork. It must be allowed to meander lazily towards its destination: maximum tender happiness. I'm sure you could do this in your slow cooker, but I suspect it would become too fall-aparty (a technical term, yes) and you'd have trouble getting it onto the grill for the coup de grace. Oh, have I mentioned they're ridiculously simple to make and the braise only includes 5 ingredients, all of which are always contained in a well-stocked kitchen? Oh. Yeah.
The result? (You might want to get a Kleenex if you, like me, are occasionally moved to tears by pork.)
~2-3 lb rack of pork ribs
4 pounds country-style pork ribs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 thumb ginger, minced (I like to use my microplane. Don't have one? Get one. Best $12 you'll ever spend)
3 cloves garlic, minced (microplaned)
1 lb potatoes (whatever looks good, I believe I used "white rose")
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
heaping tbsp minced red onion or shallot
~1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large dutch oven, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and a good grind of fresh black pepper over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Notice that I did not say add salt - do not add salt. The soy sauce is bringing plenty of salt to the party, even if it's labeled "low sodium". Don't even season your ribs, seriously. Once the sugar has dissolved, submerge your ribs in the liquid, cover, and pop in the oven. If you don't have a dutch oven, you can whip up your braise in a saucepan and pour it over your ribs in a shallow baking dish, covering with a couple of layers of foil. Bake for 2 hours, flipping the ribs half way through.
Go sit on your deck and have a cocktail or two.
Work your way back into the kitchen and whisk together the white wine vinegar, mustard, and red onion for the potato salad. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to form an emulsion, and set aside. Slice your potatoes into wedges, toss in a little olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and spread on a baking sheet.
Another cocktail? Don't mind if I do!
Trim the asparagus, drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Start your grill!
When the longest 2 hours of your life is up, remove the ribs from the oven and strain the braising liquid into a fat separator (or skim it, but mine gave up way more fat than I was willing to skim). Pour the de-fatted braising liquid into a saucepan on medium-low heat and allow to reduce until thick, shiny, and gorgeous (and, unfortunately, impossible to photograph for some reason). If it won't thicken up, you may need to add a little cornstarch - just pull out a quarter cup or so of the liquid and whisk in a teaspoon of cornstarch with a fork til smooth, then add it back to the saucepan.
Meanwhile, crank your oven up to 400 degrees and start baking your potato wedges. Let them get lovely for 20 minutes, then flip them, and bake another 10 minutes. While still hot, toss them with the vinaigrette and set aside.
To finish off your ribs, simply give them a brush with your glaze and pop them onto the hot grill for a few minutes. All you want to do is just cook the glaze onto both sides of the ribs, they are totally finished cooking at this point. Grill your asparagus simultaneously, plate, and stuff your face.
Serves 2, with a few ribs left over - the rack probably would have been perfect to serve 3 people. Took a couple of hours, but very little of that was actual work time.