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Braised Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Country Style Pork Spareribs

This is a very yummy and very simple meal to make. It’s so colorful and flavorful that you can use it for a dinner party but it’s so little work that you can throw it together on a week night. If you really want to make prep a simple, be lazy get out the food processor and run the cabbage, onion and apple through the machine to get the slicing and dicing done in 3 minutes flat.  Searing the meat in the bottom of the same pan that you will use to cook everything it preserves that rich pork flavor and gives the cabbage a wonderful added dimension. This sweet and sour cabbage is a play on the wonderful red cabbage that most German restaurants serve with all their pork dishes.  I love the homey flavors that traditional German food uses and enjoy playing with those ideas. In keeping with the German tradition I serve this meal with mashed potatoes, corn and a big glass of Riesling.

Country Style Spareribs aren’t really ribs at all. They are the blade end of the loin close to the pork shoulder and have no bones and fair amount of fat and are ridiculously cheap to buy.  They are best braised, smoked, or dry roasted they are normally cooked slowly until fork tender.  They are a great cut that can be used in Crockpot meals, BBQ or to make chili and pulled pork. I can get them very easily in South Florida because many Latin and Caribbean dishes use this cut and our diverse immigrant community has assured we can get this cut everywhere from Publix to Costco.

Looking at the cost of this meal at home verses in a German restaurant its astonishing how frugal this meal is. Checking a few menus a roast pork and cabbage meal will run about $15-$22 per person in most German restaurants, not including wine, so at least $65 for four people. Wow that is a lot for a cheap meal. I spent under $6 on about two pounds of spareribs at Costco and about another $10 dollars on produce including a 5 pound bag of potatoes, which I only used half of. I made this meal for less than $20 and some basics from my pantry (vinegar and sugar). It made so much food that we have plenty of leftovers to eat this meal another night.  Wow that is eight meals for $20 if you make it at home.  Feel free to splurge on a great wine after saving over $40 by cooking tonight!!

1-2 lbs of boneless country style pork spareribs

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 small head of red cabbage, grated or sliced very thin

2 green apples, cored and sliced thin

2 onions, sliced thin (red or white)

1 cup of red wine

½ cup of red wine vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

Salt and pepper

Slice, grate, or food process with the grater and/or slicing blade the cabbage, apple and onion and set them aside. I like to vary the size of the dice so some slices are larger than other so some can cook away and the thicker pieces will retain their integrity. Don’t forget to core the apples.

In a large heavy pot with a lid that will accommodate all the cabbage and meat heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Season the spareribs on all sides with the salt and pepper.  Once the oil is hot put the ribs into the pan.  Let the meat sear on each side until the rib releases from the pan with only a gentle tug.  Don’t move the meat around as it sears just wait until it releases on its own, it will about 5-8 minutes per side. Remove the ribs from the pan and set aside.  Don’t over crowd your pan; you can sear the meat in batched if you need to.

De-glaze the pan with 1 cup of red wine; be sure to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Then add the cabbage, onion, and apples to the pan. Stir in the sugar, a half teaspoon of salt, and the vinegar, being sure to mix well.

Return the meat to the pot in a layer on top of the cabbage.  Put the lid on and turn the temperature down until the pot bubbles gently, be sure you don’t get it too low or the meat will not cook, and not too high or it will burn.

Leave the pot on the stove for at least one hour stirring a few times.  The ribs are done when they are nicely tender.  If you have a lot of liquid in the cabbage and want to concentrate the flavors at the end of cooking remove the pot lid and turn up the heat a notch letting the sauce cook down.  Be sure to taste the cabbage and meat and adjust the sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.

I normally remove the lid and let to broth cook down for about as long as it takes to make my mashed potatoes.

When you plate the cabbage pour some of the broth from the bottom of the cooking pot into a gravy boat to serve with the meal. I always serve this meal with basic mashed potatoes and corn.  It’s a very simple German inspired meal so nothing fancy is really needed.HINTS
Leftover cabbage will freeze really well, so pop it into the freeze and then cook a few pork chops on a weeknight and you can enjoy a German feast any night.

You can also use the cabbage on a turkey Ruben sandwich for a fun twist.

Spareribs too fatty for your family then make the cabbage on the stove top and a pork tenderloin in the oven.

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