Palate Pleasers

Archive for the ‘Pork Dishes’ Category

This is one of my all time favorite recipes and again, it’s one that is best made with a cast iron pan or dutch oven.   I’ve made this recipe on several occasions and if you were coming to my house for dinner (especially during the winter months) this would probably be a dish that I would prepare for you.  The nice thing about this dish is that you make it and then bake it for 90 minutes to 2 hours and while it’s baking, it leaves you time to clean up and work on your side dishes.  When your guests arrive, your house smells good with all the flavors that are melding together in the cast iron pan.  Once served, the meat is fork tender and melts in your mouth. 


Makes 6 servings.  position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 Degrees.

3 pounds country-style pork spareribs

Salt and pepper

Merlot Sauce:

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 can (14.5 ounces each) Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes or regular crushed tomatoes (drain off excess liquid)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup Merlot or other full-bodied red wine

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

To prepare the ribs, rinse them, pat dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat; add the ribs, fat side down.  Cook, turning once until browned on all sides, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the ribs to a plate and drain reserving all but 2 Tablespoons fat from the skillet.

To prepare the sauce, turn down the heat to medium-low, add the onions to the skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally until they start to soften about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, red wine, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Turn the heat up to medium and bring the sauce to a boil.  Return the spareribs to the skillet pushing them down gently to submerge.  Protecting both hands with oven mitts, cover tightly with foil.  The liquid will reduce while cooking, leaving a rich, flavorful sauce.  With the oven mitts, carefully place the skillet in the middle of the oven and bake until the meat breaks apart easily with a fork – about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

**COOKS NOTE:  The first couple times I made this I used my 12 inch cast iron pan.  The last time I made this I served 6 people and made it in my dutch oven which was just as round, but also higher on the sides.    I used a good balsamic that was over 10 years of age.  There is a difference in the balsamic  vinegars that you buy and use and depending on the age of the balsamic depends on if yours will be acidic or smooth.  The smooth flavors of a good balsamic from a specialty store or Italian Market make all the difference in how the flavors meld together.  I don’t always use a Merlot, since I don’t have too many on my wine rack.  I tend to use a full-bodied Cabernet or Zin.   

This dish can be served with Corn Casserole (which I’ll also post), corn on the cob, herbed polenta or mashed potatoes – whatever you like.  And, I also served a caprese salad, but a tossed one works just as well.   I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do and let me know if you’d like to join us for dinner!**

Bon Appetit!



Here is another recipe that I’ve had since the 1980’s and have never made.  This is a recipe that my grandmother, Elinor Hoole gave me.  I always thought it looked great, but just never made it until last week.  I have 2 great recipes for Country Style ribs and they will be posted one right after the other.  This recipe calls for vinegar to be added and for a minute I had to stop and ask myself, what type of vinegar my grandmother would have used – would she have used a white wine or red wine vinegar – or would she have used balsamic?  Did they even have Balsamic Vinegar back in her day?  Considering I got this recipe in the late 1970’s – early 1980’s – she probably would have made this in the 1950 – 1960’s and I don’t think that Balsamic Vinegar was on her list of staples in her pantry as it is with mine.  So, being the cook that I am now, I chose Balsamic for its rich flavors and it was a great choice.    Her recipe is more of a BBQ type vinegar sauce – something that would be on a good North Carolina pulled pork sandwich –  I could see myself using her recipe with white or red wine vinegar on Pork Shoulder to make pulled pork sandwiches – does anyone have a great coleslaw recipe?


1-/2 – 2 lbs of country style ribs (approximately 4-5 ribs)

1/2 cup sliced onions

1/2 cup catsup

1/2 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp vinegar

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp dry yellow mustard

Arrange ribs in shallow pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Drain and continue cooking 30 minutes longer. 

While ribs are cooking, add all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil.  Have sauce warm and ready to use on the ribs once they’ve cooked 60 minutes. Baste the ribs with the sauce for the remaining 30 minutes.  Just before serving pour the remainder of sauce over the ribs. 

Serve with tater tots, french fries or hash browns, a green salad, chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies (I think my grandmother had a sweet tooth).

**COOKS NOTE:  I did bake the ribs for 90 minutes and then pulled the ribs out and poured the sauce in it’s entirety over the ribs.   I also doubled the batch of “sauce” as I found that if I did not double it I wouldn’t have enough of the sauce to cover the ribs.  What I think would have been even better is to have cooked the ribs WITH the sauce for 90 minutes so that it had a chance to soak up all the good flavors of the sauce.  I think that Sweet Potato fries would have gone really well with this recipe – but I could not find them anywhere.  I’m sure one of the grocery stores carries them and if not, I’ll have to find a recipe for them and make my own.**

Bon Appetit!

Growing up as a kid I can remember having Pork Chops and I remember having Applesauce, but I never remember eating the two together.  When I met Mike and made Pork Chops he wanted to know where the applesauce was … Quite frankly, the applesauce and pork chops idea didn’t sound that good to me, but because Mike liked it I found a way to make it for him.  I wouldn’t settle for the store bought stuff so I’d have to make it myself.  Fortunately, I had a few apples in the house and found a Betty Crocker recipe  that was the guidance I needed for my homemade applesauce.    Today, I make it rather simple – a mix of apples, cinnamon and brown sugar to taste.  I then use my immersion blender and purée it.  I still don’t like mixing the two (dipping my pork chop in the applesauce), but I do enjoy it just as much as a side dish to complement the pork chops.  I served this last night with the breaded pork chops and it was a big hit.   This will serve 4-6 people.


2 Qt Saucepan

1 cup water

4 Big Granny Smith Apples, peeled

2 medium-sized red apple (pink lady, gala even Red Delicious), peeled.

Golden Brown Sugar to taste (about 1/2 cup to start)

Cinnamon (start with 1 Tbsp)

Once the apples have been peeled and diced, put them in 1 cup water in a 2 quart saucepan.  Cook them on medium high heat, stirring occasionally until they have been cooked through.  Once they are soft turn off the heat.  If there is extra water in the pan, i typically drain some of it so my applesauce isn’t runny.  Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.  You can always start with less than I suggested and add more to suit your taste.

**COOKS NOTE: If you have an immersion blender use it at this point to purée the apples leaving a few chunks.    It takes about 15-20 minutes to make the applesauce and I start this process once I have put the pork chops in the oven to bake, so the applesauce is warm when the chops come out.  Why purchase store bought when you can make your own?**


On Saturday night I made breaded pork chops for Mike and 2 friends that came over for dinner.  I used a mix of spices from Paprika to Oregano with Salt & Pepper and Parmesan Cheese .  I find that I like to use these combinations of spices as they have a Mediterranean influence.  The problem is that I just pour a little of this and some of this until I believe I have the right combination; however, i think the directions below will be a good guide to get you started  and then you can add more or less as you like.


1/2 to 1 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/2 tsp Oregano

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese – grated

4 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix Breadcrumbs,cheese, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper in a shallow dish (I use a pie plate).  Once the butter has melted put in separate shallow dish.  Put Pork Chop in butter and thoroughly coat with bread crumb mixture.  Place in greased baking sheet.   Bake 30 minutes or until Pork Chop is tender.

**COOKS NOTE – I bought Frenched Pork Chops that were thick, so they required a few more minutes in the oven.   I served this with Homemade Applesauce, Creamy Parmesan Risotto and a nice mixed green salad with Blackberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.** 

See above for Applesauce Recipe.


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April 2018
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