During a recent visit home, I had the joy of spending an evening with a dear friend of mine Julie, who just so happens to be the Texan New Yorker. Hands down the most skilled of my friends in the kitchen, she and I have had countless cooking sessions that have always resulted in a smorgasbord of dishes and a week’s worth of leftovers.
This time around, ribs were on the menu, made in a way I had never done them before — using a water bath. This very technique is one that stood out to me and it is one that I decided to use for my Mediterranean St. Louis-style Ribs with a Grilled Onion and Fennel Slaw and Citrus Herb Drizzle.
Spices of the Mediterranean permeate every aspect of this dish, bringing extremely bold flavors to a cut of pork that rarely gets this kind of treatment here in the U.S.. Though most ribs and slaw can be a bit messy, neither leaves globs of sauce all over your hands, making both dishes very easy to eat and perfect for any gathering.
Mediterranean St. Louis-Style Ribs
with a Grilled Onion and Fennel Slaw
and Citrus Herb Drizzle
(recipe serving size – roughly 12 ribs)
For the herb citrus drizzle:
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp honey
6 mint leaves
6 basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sumac
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully incorporated. Place in a small mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the ribs:
2 1/2 lb rack of St. Louis-style ribs
2 1/2 tsp harissa
1 tsp za’tar
1 tsp kosher salt
Rub fleshy side of ribs with 1 1/2 tsp of harissa, 1/2 tsp of za’tar and 3/4 tsp of salt. Rub the remaining spice on the back side of the ribs. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line a long baking pan with an oven-safe rack. Place the ribs directly on the rack. Pour hot water into the pan below the rack, enough to cover the bottom of the pan completely. Cover the entire pan with foil and roast in the oven on the center rack for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the pork begins to pull away from the bone and has become tender.
For the grilled onion and fennel slaw:
1 large red onion, sliced thick
1 bulb of fennel, sliced thick
1 tsp harissa
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp za’tar
1/2 tsp kosher salt plus 1/8 tsp
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
In a large bowl, toss the onion and fennel with the olive oil, lime juice and spices. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook vegetables for 12-15 minutes, turning a few times, until tender.
Turn the heat to low, leave the onion and fennel in the pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
Bringing it all together:
Once the ribs are done baking, temporarily remove the ribs from the rack and empty the water from the bottom of the baking pan.
Set aside at least 1 tb of citrus herb drizzle.
Turn your oven to broil. Return the ribs to the rack. Lightly baste the top part of the ribs with some of the herb drizzle and broil for 5 minutes. Turn the ribs over, baste and broil for another 5 minutes. Repeat these steps except broil for 3 minutes each time.
Let the ribs rest for 2-3 minutes. While they rest, Place the onion and fennel slaw in a large serving bowl. Cut the rack of pork into individual rib pieces and place on top of the slaw. Drizzle with the remaining herb citrus blend over the ribs and serve while hot.