Cooking ribs in a Cazuela

Better late than never.  When I was originally drafting this post the weather was cold and the following recipe suited that climate.  My post here unfortunately ran into a snag and it never got past the draft phase.  The focus of the story was not the food as much as it was cooking in a cazuela.  Long story short, we ran out of the lidded cazuelas that could take on the task of cooking the following recipe, so the post got shelved for a while.  The weather in Santa Fe is literally freezing right now and we are fully stocked with cazuelas in the store.  I decided to leave the post as it was originally written and did not feel obligated to update it beyond this opening paragraph.  With no further ado, please enjoy.

Now that the holidays have finally retreated I can have some me time.  My type of “me time” usually involves lots of cooking.  I am not sure how it happened, but for this holiday season my stove was rather dormant.  In all honesty, I found the lack of cooking totally boring.  Not to say I did not cook at all, just nothing was memorable.  The only breakthrough culinary wise during the whole holiday melee was my new found love for making spiked punch.  Now I own a big glass punch bowl and a dozen small punch glasses.  The punch project was fun but it really did not scratch that cooking itch.

With the dull days of winter truly kicking in, my cooking itch has received some scratching as of late.  The biggest development in my kitchen this month pairs two of my favorite things, clay pot cooking & ribs.  I have been slicing up a whole large sweet onion, seasoning it with olive oil, salt, & pepper and covering the bottom of my lidded eleven-inch cazuela with the slices.  Next, I cut up two pounds of pork ribs or lamb breast, which is a cut of lamb mostly made of ribs into four equal parts and placing them on top of the onions.  Of course, I season the ribs with a spice mixture before putting them in the pot. Then I will add about one cup of liquid to the mix, choose whatever liquid you want: white wine, stock, water, or beer… they will all work just the same.

Once my clay pot of goodies is fully arranged I put the lid on and it will go into a 250 degree pre-heated oven.  After four hours of cooking, the ribs are fully tender and have a nice bit of caramelization on them.  The onions get cooked down nicely and yield out a fair amount of liquid.  The onion, liquid combo makes for a perfect sauce to complement your ribs.  Check your ribs about half way through the cooking process to see if you should add a bit more liquid to the cazuela.  Serving the ribs with some polenta and sauteed collard greens has been the perfect mix for me.  I used the following recipe below to marinade my pork ribs.  For whatever reason I cannot remember how I seasoned that lamb breast.

Pork Rib Rub, Marinade

1 Tbls of Lavender Honey
1/2 Tbls  hot pepper flakes, I used Maras pepper flakes from The Spanish Table
1/2 Tsp Fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbls  course Spanish sea salt, I like the Bevia brand
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 Tbls wild fennel pollen, regular fennel seed will work as well
Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil

Put all of the ingredients in a mortar except the oil.  Mash everything together into a thick paste and then add olive oil to thin it out a bit.  I used a little more than a tablespoon of olive oil.  Rub the mixture on the ribs and place them in a covered container for at least four hours before cooking.

Cheers, rob@tst

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