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Urban Tavern's spice-braised pork ribs

Urban Tavern's spice-braised pork ribs
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Dear SOS: Will the Urban Tavern Restaurant in the Hilton Union Square, San Francisco share with you and all of us? We had "braised baby back ribs" served over a large-grain type of couscous. The ribs have interesting spices, like ... Read more

Total time: 4 1/2 hours, plus overnight refrigeration and cooling times | Serves 6 to 8

Spice rub

  • 1/2 cup fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

Step 1In a medium saute pan heated over medium heat, toast the fennel and coriander seeds until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Step 2Grind the fennel and coriander seeds to a fine powder using a spice mill or coffee grinder, then combine with the ginger, nutmeg, paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne powder to form a rub.

Step 3This makes a generous 1 cup rub, and you may not use all of it for the final recipe. Store the rub in an airtight jar or sealable plastic bag in a cool, dark place up to 4 to 6 weeks.

Braised pork ribs

  • 2 racks pork ribs, preferably St. Louis-style, silverskin removed
  • Spice rub
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups diced apples, about 2 apples
  • 2 1/4 cups diced onion, about 1 onion,
  • Scant 1 cup diced carrots, about 2 carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery hearts, from about 1 bunch

Step 1Coat the rib racks generously on each side with the spice rub. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to season.

Step 2The next day, in a large saucepan, bring the cider, chicken and beef broths and bay leaves to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3Heat the oven to the broiler setting. Place the rib racks on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Broil the racks until browned on each side, about 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the heat of the broiler.

Step 4Reduce the oven heat to 300 degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine the diced apples, onion, carrots and celery heart, and place the seared ribs on top (pour any drippings from the rimmed baking sheet over the ribs). Pour over the hot broth.

Step 5Cover the pan tightly, first with parchment paper, then a layer of plastic wrap, then with a layer of foil, creating as tight a seal as possible. Place the covered pan in the oven and braise the ribs for 3 hours.

Step 6Remove the pan from the oven and cool the ribs completely. Skim the fat from the pan and set the ribs aside. Strain the braising liquid (we had about 1 quart) into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the sauce by half.

Step 7To reheat the ribs, place the ribs in a roasting pan and pour the sauce over. Place the ribs in a 325-degree oven and heat until the ribs are warmed through before serving.

Note: Adapted from Urban Tavern. For St. Louis-style (or mock baby back) ribs, take a rack of spare ribs and trim the skirt meat along the underside of the rack, then remove the rib tips at the joint before removing the silverskin from the underside of the rack and trimming the edges to clean. Alternatively, ask your butcher to prepare the racks for you. The restaurant serves the ribs with fregola and seasonal vegetables.


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