2 quarts water (bottled recommended)
6 lbs. pork rib chops cut into 2" pieces
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper, coarse ground
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 lb. shitake mushrooms, quartered
3/4 cup minced onion, celery, bell pepper mix
2 cups chicken broth*
1/2 cup dry cocktail sherry
1 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet seasoning
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup minced parsley
Salt and coarse ground black pepper, if necessary
Start off by taking a heavy, 8-quart stockpot and bringing the 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. In the meantime, season the pork pieces liberally with the salt, black pepper, and fresh minced garlic (sprinkle the ingredients onto the meat, then rub the meat pieces briskly together with your hands). When everything is seasoned well, drop the pork into the boiling water. The boil will cease, but when it returns reduce the flame to low (just so it barely bubbles). All in all, cook the pork pieces in this manner for about 30 minutes or so.
In the meantime, in a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil to sizzling, whisk in the all purpose flour, and make a rich brown roux. When it reaches the right color, drop in the shitake mushrooms and the onion, celery, and bell pepper mix and stir everything together quickly to stop the roux from browning any further. Then slowly, in small amounts, whisk in the chicken broth, the sherry, and the Kitchen Bouquet until it is all incorporated into a thick rich gravy. And when the riblets have finished poaching, slowly begin adding them to the Dutch oven.
Don't be concerned if the gravy at first appears too thick-it will thin out as the pork pieces cook down and tenderize. Of course, if the consistency is too thick to you liking, you can add either a little more chicken broth or some of the strained stock you made when you poached the pork pieces. Just take care not to make the gravy too watering. Adding liquid a little at a time is the way to go.
When you have everything the way you want it, cover the pot, reduce the fire to medium-low, and cook the riblets in the gravy for about an hour and a half. When they are "fall off the bone tender, quickly stir in the crushed red pepper flakes and the minced parsley. Then spoon out the smothered pork over a heaping helping of hot brown rice. A saucer of buttered green peas, maybe a chunk of hot French bread for sopping, and a glass of super-chilled iced tea complete the meal!
Uuuuummmmm! Now we're talking lip-smackin'!
1. Baby back ribs work well in this recipe, but if you can't find baby-back ribs ask your butcher for ribs that are "3 and down." That means the slab weighs three pounds or less and it usually guarantees a tenderness you won't find in heavy spare ribs. Also ask him to remove the silverskin for you and cut them into 2-inch pieces with the band saw.
2. Even if you decide to use pork end steaks or country style ribs, ask the butcher to cut them into 2-inches pieces for you. The smaller portions cook more evenly.
3. If you've done a good reduction at the right temperature setting as you cooked the ribettes, the sauce will thicken nicely on it's own. But either way, the final dish will come out great! It's almost impossible to mess up!
4. I don't suggest you use any extra salt or pepper in the sauce until the dish is finished and you've tasted it. Depending upon your preparation, the riblets and the accompanying gravy may be salty enough without adding any extra.
5. *If you'd prefer to use just the pork stock you made, as opposed to straight canned chicken broth, feel free to do so. It will give the gravy a richer pork flavor (but watch out before adding any extra salt and pepper).