Braised Spareribs with Fennel, Mashed Potatoes, and Curried Split Pea Soup

by Kelly on October 10, 2009

After a 10‐minute dig into my deep freezer, I sadly realized we had eaten the last of our Tamworth ham from Farmer Nick’s. Though momentarily disappointed that I couldn’t make the scalloped potatoes and ham I’d been craving, I was thrilled to spot a rack of spareribs hiding beneath the frost. I usually bake spareribs and sauerkraut together for an easy, hearty meal, but I’d already made cabbage once that week and, frankly, didn’t relish the idea of another cabbage‐based dinner. Instead, I settled on a braised spareribs recipe. But “settled” isn’t the appropriate word for this dish. “Spectacular” is more accurate. I know I rave about recipes more often than not, but this really is a fantastic preparation, really. The meat falls off the bone and the sauce is perhaps the most savory thing I’ve tasted all year. The only leftovers from the meal were a small bowl of mashed potatoes and a few tablespoons of the sauce. I mixed the two together the next day for lunch, which made for some damn good fried mashed potato patties.

Like the spareribs recipe, the soup recipe is also new to me, sent by my friend Allison. I loved it as a starter for dinner but enjoyed it even more the next day for lunch after the curry flavor developed. Not only was this a tasty soup, but it gave me an excuse to finally buy a stick blender (very fun item, by the way). Thanks for sharing, Allison! Which reminds me — if anyone has recipes they would like us to try out, please send them our way.

Braised Spareribs with Fennel
adapted from Anne Burrell at Food Network

Serves 4

1 rack spareribs, cut into ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
1 large onion, cut into large dice
1 large fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut into large dice
6 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) dry white wine
2 bay leaves
1 bundle thyme
pinch crushed red pepper
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Coat a Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Season the ribs with salt and brown in the hot oil. Brown ribs on both sides. Remove ribs from the pan.

While the ribs are browning, puree the onion, fennel and garlic in the food processor to a coarse paste. After the ribs are browned and removed from pan, add the pureed vegetables and saute for 5 to 6 minutes, until golden.

Return the ribs to the pan and add the white wine, bay leaves, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook over a medium‐high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the wine is reduced to about 1 cup (240 ml). Add the chicken broth, cover and place in the preheated oven. Cook the ribs for 2 hours or until they are very soft and almost falling off the bone. Check the ribs periodically to make sure the liquid hasn’t reduced too much. Serve the ribs and sauce over mashed potatoes.

***

Curried Split Pea Soup
adapted from Alton Brown at Food Network

Serves 8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
5 or 6 carrots, chopped
5 or 6 stalks of celery, chopped
1 lb (450 g) dried green or yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
8 cups (1.9 liters) chicken broth (reserve 1 cup (240 ml) to thin out soup if it’s too thick)
1 tablespoon curry powder

Place the butter into a large saucepan or stock pot over medium‐low heat. Once melted, add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, making certain not to allow the onions or garlic to brown.

Add the peas, carrots, celery, 7 cups (1.7 liters) of chicken broth and curry powder. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a simmer until the vegetables are very tender, approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until the desired consistency. If the soup is too thick, add some of the remaining chicken broth.

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