Recently I was driving when I heard a recipe on the radio. It went something like, “These slow-roasted ribs are the best ribs ever, it’s an old family recipe and the ribs are cooked in sauerkraut for 4 hours”. I was doubtful but intrigued. So, I made the recipe and I made it again and again until I got it just right. The ribs cook “all day” in the oven, low and slow until the meat falls off the bone. The sauerkraut not only acts as a tenderizer, but it caramelizes as it cooks intensifying the flavor. With just two ingredients, it’s hardly a recipe, but the unlikely combo is spectacular and the credit goes to my nameless fellow home cook on the radio.
About Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut; always the bridesmaid, never the bride. A rather lackluster condiment of fermented cabbage, it’s iconic on a hot dog but not much else. But it’s so misunderstood. The beauty of sauerkraut is that it’s a little sweet, salty and sour at the same time making it just perfect thing for a slow braise with ribs.
Slow Cooking: The secret to falling off the bone ribs is to cook them at a low heat for a long time. The sauerkraut tenderizes the meat without drying it out. Cooking the last hour without foil gives the ribs that crispy crust that folks line up for at southern BBQ joints.
- 2 racks baby back pork ribs (about 2 pounds each)
- 4 pounds sauerkraut
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Place two pounds of sauerkraut on each baking sheet, then lay the ribs on top, meat side down. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 3 hours. Flip ribs over and continue baking, uncovered one more hour.
- Serve with sauerkraut on the side.