Well, I have to say, after some 40 degree days just a couple of weeks ago, I did not expect Memorial Day to be so sunny and hot. I won’t complain though. It was a nice change from the cold and rainy end of May weekends we usually end up having here in Chicago. We took advantage and ended up doing what we should all be doing over the long Holiday weekend (for once!) - grilling outside with friends and family.
I picked up some pork spare ribs last week, which seemed to be on sale just about everywhere. We didn’t have definite plans so I decided to pressure cook them in advance, that way, if people came over we could just throw them on the grill. Or, we could save them for a quick weeknight meal. I’m a big fan of my electric pressure cooker for a number of reasons. In this case, using the pressure cooker is a real time-saver, preventing me from being chained to the house when all I want to do is play outside. Also, when the weather is warm, it’s nice to have an alternative to turning on the oven or hovering over a hot grill. For this reason alone I plan on getting the pressure cooker out more often now that its (almost) summer.
To make these ribs, I just cut them in similar sized pieces, two or three ribs each and rubbed them all over with a combination of brown sugar, salt and a store bought BBQ spice rub. I refrigerated them overnight (this is optional, I try to do this step in advance, but lots of times I don’t). In the morning, I took them out and placed them in a metal steamer basket in my pressure cooker (vertically) and poured about three cups of water to the bottom of the pressure cooker insert. I cooked them at high pressure for 21 minutes and let the pressure release naturally.
Now, you could eat them just like this. They are really tender and full of flavor from the rub, but they aren’t that pretty. At this stage, if I am going to serve them later, I let them come to room temperature and then keep them in the refrigerator until I’m ready to reheat them on the grill. If I am going to serve them right away, I transfer them to the grill, where I slather on some bbq sauce and cook them until they are nice and charred on the outside, only a few minutes per side.
When you remove the ribs from the pressure cooker, there will be a bunch of really delicious broth at the bottom that tastes like meat juice and spices. Since I do not - never, ever, ever - throw away meat juice, I usually add about a cup of dried pinto beans, some chopped onion, smashed garlic and a little extra water. Now these might not be ready in time if you intend to eat the ribs right away, but if you can wait a few minutes before firing up your grill, they do make a pretty delicious side dish. Pass the cornbread!
We ended up having these for dinner on Memorial Day. Since I cooked both the ribs and the beans in the morning, we were able to spend most of the day at our friends’ house and dinner was a cinch when we got home. This, of course, reminded me that I am a genius (thank goodness, because no one wants to hang with my crew when they're hangry). I’m definitely going to make these again, either for a weeknight meal or an easy summer dinner party.
Chubby thighs, because they're so cute.