Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ribs wie in Amerika

I never thought I would see this in my German oven: American spare ribs. I didn't realize how difficult they would be to get my hands on (are you sensing a pattern here? Not only do all of the poultry stores know me through my hunt for duck fat but now all of the butcher shops know the American woman whose been asking around for some sort of ribs you can eat off the bone - odd that, ne Dieter?)

Most butchers patiently explained to me that "we don't do that here". That Germans eat another cut of the rib - the back rather than the front or "stomach ribs" as they are called in German. And they are not eaten off the bone here but simmered in stews or used in stocks. But I finally hit upon the right place, an old school butcher shop called Schlachterei Hans Wagner with a neon sign that had obviously not been changed since the 1950s. And when I asked for ribs, "like the Americans eat them, off the bone", the butcher smiled and nodded, "I have an American customer who is always ordering them." Thank you, fellow American customer! 

I am a complete novice when it comes to ribs - have never made them, have never even thought about attempting to make them, but I can appreciate them and I know what goooooood ribs taste like: candy bars. Well, not exactly but with the right sauce - and by the right sauce I mean my stepdad's secret bar-b-que rib sauce - they are as gooey and chewy as a Snickers bar. I didn't even bother asking him for his recipe; it's not called "Coach's secret recipe" for nothing. Instead I tried one out of Cynthia Barcomi's "Kochbuch für Feste" cookbook. While it sounds like blasphemy to take a recipe for a dish that one practically can't even make in Germany from a 'Kochbuch', Ms. Barcomi is an American living in Berlin running my favorite American deli there - and she knows her shit. At least, her tuna melts make me completely homesick.

I won't even bother reposting the recipe here - because by the time I got done with it, it was no longer her recipe. It included an entire baby bottle (it was the only thing I had on hand to measure in milliliters) of white wine vinegar and 60 ml of Woschester sauce. The first time I stuck my face over the pot to smell it I think I burned off all of my nosehairs. I made Ingo smell it and he came an eighth of a second from sneezing into the pot. Mmmm, maybe that's the "secret" to a "secret sauce". Gross, I know. I had to tame the vinegar with more ketchup and then I added two ingredients on the fly: maple syrup and Jim Beam. I think it worked out quite well actually. At least they looked amazing.

For sides, I threw together a horseradish cole slaw and stuck these sweet potato fries with coriander in the oven. They were really good and worked well with the ribs.

Our lovely neighbors, Susanne and Matthias came downstairs and dug into their first American spare ribs. Either they were just being nice, or they really liked them. Susanne is a fabulous cook and very honest with her critiques when asked and therefore, I believe it was the latter. That and look at how happy she looks in this photo.

Now that I have secured a dealer and with springtime hopefully in our foreseeable future, I believe American-style ribs will be on the grill on more than one occasion this summer. And I can't wait.

End note: if anyone has an amazing barbeque sauce recipe you would like to share, I am all ears!

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