Cleaning out my Cabinets: Oven-Cooked Ribs and Apple Pie Cookies

In the midst of all the recent odd meals and random meat butchering, I did need to cook some things that make people want to return to our apartment occasionally.  Those meals are generally the ones that end up in these posts; anything new I attempted that came out pretty well.  As per usual, the meals were born out of having too much of something and needing to get rid of it.

Lets start with the rack of ribs that’s been in our freezer since August.

Leftover from a 3-rack-pack purchased at Costco for Little Compton. Needed to be rearranged in the freezer every few days to make sure the door would close

After a day to thaw and some recommendations from blog villain Brother Tim (a slightly better barbecue cook than me) I got started by preheating the oven to 250F.

Since I think it’s hard to top Tim’s ribs (jerk), I decided to give him a wide berth and instead go with something more similar to a Chinese spare rib.  I mixed together a dry rub of Chinese five spice, salt, cayenne, garlic, onion, brown sugar, and a little dried mustard and amply applied to the meat.

I refuse to let even a small sliver of pork go uncovered with rub when cooking ribs or shoulder. I figure they're self conscious about their exposed flesh like me

These went into a large pyrex with a dark beer, a couple dashes of liquid smoke,a few cloves, and crushed red pepper in the base of the dish for flavor.

Not sure how I would apply this approach to multiple racks of ribs, but guessing I will have to figure it out sometime soon

Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and send into the preheated 250F oven for 3 hours.  I spent that time bugging Kristi with my opinions on cooking debates she was unaware of, watching sports, and letting Janet play with my teeth and chin(s).  Eventually, this came out of the oven:

The exposed rib ends are a big no-no in the BBQ world, but I rarely claim to do anything correctly. However, I insist that you do whatever it is you are doing my way

At this point the oven gets switched over to grilling mode; oven rack at (or near) the top placement and set to high broil.  The ribs were transferred to a broiling pan with a little additional rub sprinkled over the top and broiled a few inches from the heat with the door slightly open to make sure the oven stays on.  After about 5-7 minutes they were sizzling, crispy, and starting to brown a bit so I pulled the pan out of the oven.

Started glazing the one on the right before remembering to take a picture. Kristi's priorities have been way out of whack recently when it comes to this blog. Since when is Janet's dinner more important than my action shots?!?!

Although I generally don’t like saucing ribs before they’re finished cooking, I wanted these to have a sticky Chinese spare rib-style glaze.  The glaze was equal parts traditional Sweet Baby Rays and soy sauce with a little sesame oil blended in as well.  I brushed on a thin layer and then put the ribs back into the oven under the broiler for another minute or so, keeping the pan moving constantly with a mitted hand to avoid burning (ribs and hand).

I hate saucy ribs and consider them a sign of a restaurant that has no idea what they are doing. I have lots of opinions!

The short time under the broiler turned the glaze from a sauce into a sticky crust on the ribs.  The meat was tender, juicy, and the steaming time made the meat extremely tender and fall off the bone.  The combination of the rub and the glaze gave the pork some good saltiness and a little contrasting sweet spiciness.

You do miss out on the nice pink bark that comes from smoker or grill cooked ribs, but it was 20 degrees out and I didn't have to freeze my a-hole off to make these

Pretty decent for a first attempt at ribs that never touch a grill.  Would definitely do them again.

Now onto the Apple Pie Cookies.  The two ingredients that led to this one were apples, which Kristi consistently buys then forgets to eat, and a bunch of maple candies.  The maple candies were made by Kristi’s Aunt Sue and Uncle Crocky as a wedding favor for their daughter Casey’s wedding last July.  They made a ton of them, and they were delicious, but even I couldn’t eat as many as they sent me home with.  Plus, they melted a bit en route due to the absurd summer heat.

Fast forward a few months and they’re still sitting in my freezer, so on the night that I made the tortillas and carnitas, I decided to use them for something.

You can see the shapes they used to be in before I left them in the car for a half hour on the hottest weekend of the summer. We took a family photo at the wedding and since my pit stains had met in the center and soaked my arms, it looks like I am wearing a solid dark blue shirt. I changed before the reception. It was that bad

The maple candies headed into the oven to bake for an hour and dry up a bit since I planned to use them as a sugar substitute for the cookies.  What came out of the oven was easy to crumble and had a texture similar to brown sugar.

Looked like sugar and smelled like maple. pretty much what I was hoping for

The rest of the process was very close to my recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.  The maple sugar was supplemented with an equal amount of white sugar to approximate the total amount of sugars in that recipe.  Along with the sugar, I used the same proportions of butter, flour, eggs, baking soda, salt, and oats.  The only difference was using twice as much cinnamon and vanilla extract for this recipe and substituting cubed apples for the raisins.

I think this is only one apple but it might have been two, but I can't really remember

Mix the apples in with the hand mixer, stir in the oats and drop in blobs on a cookie sheet for baking a 375F for 10-12 minutes.  Once they deflated and had just started browning, I pulled them out and transferred to a rack for cooling.

They look pretty much like oatmeal cookies. Tough to make cookies look exciting and different

These were really good and tasted pretty similar to apple pie with hints of maple.  Since I used fresh apples, there was a lot of liquid that cooked into the cookies during baking and was absorbed by the oats and dough.  Because of all the extra moisture, they fell apart pretty easily when eating and weren’t nearly as good on day 2.  Still, worth giving a shot to if you are bored with cookie tube or regular oatmeal raisin.

Next week will be another post that will drive my sister in-law Jen further away from readership.  I feel like I ruined her winter with that Goat Head Cheese post.