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French-Style Spareribs

November 18, 2011

The oak trees in our yard are quickly shedding their leaves to prepare for the coming winter.  In contrast, Pilot, my normally petite cat is just a bit bigger as he’s now holding on to his fur (and hopefully appears more formidable in the eyes of the field mice).  The resident Great Horned owls are making their presence known to each other with their mating calls, their hoo-hoo-hoo from late evening to early morning one of the most welcome, beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.  When I step out at night the air is crisp and chilly, delivering a bite to my cheeks that grows just a bit sharper each day.  I am responding to nature’s changing mood, as well.  I’m hungry for more substance on my plate.  No longer is a simple salad sufficient for a meal; now it is desirable only as a prelude to a heartier, more robust main course.

If you look at my category cloud on my sidebar you might notice that beef and pork are quite underrepresented though I enjoy both very much.  I shared these Pork Ribs with Orange Glaze last year, the citrus and herbs winning my heart for the twist on the classic, sweeter preparation.  In the Languedoc region of southwest France spareribs are prepared in the oven, roasted until the meat is very tender.  Traditionally, a special implement called a flambadou, a perforated wrought iron cup (that was secured to a rod) was used as a basting instrument.  It was heated until red-hot and a piece of country ham fat was placed inside.  As the fat melted it would drip onto the ribs, imparting a charred, ham flavor to the meat.  Then an herb-infused oil would be brushed on the ribs as a finishing touch.

I have no flambadou but melt-in-your-mouth spareribs infused simply with herbs de Provence and mint sounded no less appetizing to me.  After rubbing the ribs with salt and pepper, I let the oven do the work.  The oil–infused with a mix of dried herbs, fresh mint, balsamic vinegar and sugar–was used to glaze the meat before broiling and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.  I am certain that the traditional Languedoc preparation would have been superior to this, more modern, version but I can honestly say that the ribs I served in my northern California kitchen successfully transported me to southwest France, even just for a short while. Oo la la! 

French-Style Spareribs

* adapted from The Cooking of Southwest France

  • 3 lbs pork loin (rib ends for barbecue or 2 sides of meaty country style spareribs about 4 pounds divided into 8 serving pieces) I used 2.25 pounds ribs
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp herbes de provence
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. For the herb-oil, combine the ingredients from the herbs to the balsamic vinegar and set aside.

2.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Rub the pork with salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan (I used a cast iron skillet), cover with foil and bake for two hours.  With only two pounds of meat for my version, mine was done in about 1 1/2 hours.

3.  Turn on your broiler, remove the foil covering the ribs and brush herb-oil on the meat.  Broil until the meat is crisp and brown.  Repeat for the other side of the ribs.

4.  Transfer to a plate and serve.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2011 11:12 AM

    I have much to learn about the simple rustic cooking techniques of this area of France. Though I did travel through there from Barcelona once. Thanks for the warm memories. GREG

  2. November 18, 2011 11:15 AM

    My mouth is watering. Perfectly glazed spare ribs on top of a heap of mashed potatoes is what I am dreaming about now! Perfect comfort food.

  3. November 18, 2011 11:24 AM

    Oh, that looks so good with the herb oil broiled onto it. That’s a delicious recipe, and I love spareribs!

  4. November 18, 2011 1:59 PM

    I haven’t had BBQ Spare Ribs in so long. I never knew how to make them. This recipe looks great, I need to bookmark it. Thanks!!

  5. November 18, 2011 6:25 PM

    I’m drooling looking at the spare rib’s glaze… looks delicious!!!! I like your idea of covering the handle with cloth. I am not sure if it’s for practical purpose or food styling but I need that one… I often forget the skillet is still hot and burn my palm. I did that many times and I still don’t learn!

    • November 21, 2011 8:01 PM

      Hi Nami!
      The canvas wrapped around the skillet handle was 10% for practical reasons and 90% for aesthetics. I cut up one of the fabrics I had…glad you like it and believe me, I’ve got a scar or two from forgetting my mitt also! 🙂

      • November 21, 2011 11:35 PM

        Hi Jean, hope you enjoyed on the post on Fandago. So what’s your new favorite restaurant in Monterey? Nami and I are curious 🙂

      • November 22, 2011 10:08 AM

        Hi Shen,
        Yes, your Fandango review brought back some nice memories. My current favorite restaurant in the area is Flying Fish Grill in Carmel. You and Nami will have to try it the next time you’re there. Let me know what you think if you do. 🙂

  6. November 18, 2011 8:36 PM

    My husband and I love spareribs. I remember how we agreed with each other’s choices everytime we went on dates (before we had a little girl, who now takes most of our time now, that we don’t go out on dates anymore….not that I am complaining o_o) Spareribs is always the choice. Since dinner dates are not part of the household budget now, a home-cooked version will serve just right. A candlelight effect and a nice tablecloth and this recipe will be a date—home version! Thanks for sharing!

    • November 21, 2011 8:04 AM

      Anna, these are probably the easiest ribs you’ll ever make. Let me know how it goes if you try the recipe. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  7. November 18, 2011 9:34 PM

    That first photo is gorgeous. Dark, hearty meat against the gray blue background. It really pops…and makes you hungry!

  8. November 19, 2011 12:57 AM

    Perfect! I have one rack of spareribs in my freezer (it was buried in the last ‘pork special’ box I bought) Too late to do them on the barbecue!

  9. November 19, 2011 12:09 PM

    I’m such a fan of ribs, that my friends have literally banned me for picking restaurants whenever we decide to eat out, because I would invariably go for some place specializing in them!
    And thanks for a different take on ribs…I can now think beyond bbq sauce and soy sauce.

  10. Lizzie in Los Angeles permalink
    November 19, 2011 6:15 PM

    Lacking a roasting pan/cast iron skillet, I used a big stainless steel fry pan, but wishing to avoid sticking, I olive-oiled the pan …. also since I’m the only human being on earth sensitive to lavender, I used Italian seasoning instead. Should be delish even if a bit of a variation…. thanks for the really great idea for using the mint.

  11. Lizzie in Los Angeles permalink
    November 19, 2011 9:26 PM

    Never. Ever. Better. Pork. Ribs. Make. This. Now.

    • November 21, 2011 8:01 AM

      Lizzie, I’m so glad you tried the ribs. I appreciate your feedback. Even if you switched the herbs around a bit, I think the mint is the star, wouldn’t you agree? I’m very happy that you liked this recipe. Thanks so much!

  12. November 20, 2011 10:58 PM

    OMG!! That ribs are so drool-worthy!! Gotta make some as soon as the Husband recovers from a severe sore throat..

  13. November 21, 2011 5:48 PM

    Perfect! Just as I am planning our trip to the Languedoc region you give me yet another reason to be inspired.

  14. Lizzie in Los Angeles permalink
    November 21, 2011 7:52 PM

    The mint is definitely the star here. Very unexpected. Can’t wait to make these again. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Cheers!

  15. November 25, 2011 6:25 PM

    Hi and Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you! I came over to check out your scrumptious ribs a few ago and spaced out on leaving a comment, I’m a little behind on visiting my favorite blogs but am committed to catching up! I hope you’re feeling well and planning your next post;-)

  16. November 28, 2011 8:08 PM

    I cook a lot with cast iron, so I noticed how you wrapped the handle and I love it. This recipe is a keeper for me. I don’t like sweet ribs or barbecue sauce and I now live in the south. I look for new and less sweet yet comforting ways to prepare ribs.

  17. December 9, 2011 7:10 AM

    I’m cooking this up for the weekend! Can’t wait!!! Yumm-o!


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