My little family has been reveling in the sunshine of the past two weekends. The still cool air and the liquid quality of the late afternoon sun have brought an expectant kind of magic with them, promising summer will be here soon enough. This is the time of year we like to get in the car on Saturday mornings with a bare outline of a plan and find ourselves an adventure.
A couple of weekends ago we headed north to Wyebrook Farm in Honey Brook, PA. to kill two birds with one stone: the farm offers hand-butchered, humanely raised beef, pork and chicken (my agenda), and on this particular day it was also hosting a bluegrass festival (my husband’s agenda). We both love Americana music like Old Crow Medicine Show, the Avett Brothers, Lucinda Williams, and Neko Case – all not too distant cousins to traditional bluegrass music.
The drive to Honey Brook wasn’t much fun – too many two-lane roads with quite a bit of construction along the way – but the reward was clear just a few minutes after we crossed over the Susquehannah River into the rolling hills of Pennsylvania farm country. Wyebrook Farm itself is stunning. A renovated 18th century stone barn at the farm’s center serves as its market, surrounded by a lovely old farmhouse, green hills, and the animals that make Wyebrook what it is.
We’ll definitely go back again, as Wyebrook has a full calendar of events – Sunday brunches, live music, butchering classes, and occasional dinners prepared by notable chefs, most recently Ian Knauer of PBS’s “The Farm.” See the calendar and events pages on their web site for more information.
I left the farm market with a bag full of goodies, including some homemade cookies, a small sack of locally grown emmer farro berries, some gorgeous spinach and chanterelle mushrooms, and some of the nicest country-style pork ribs I’ve ever seen.
Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin. They contain no rib bones, but instead contain parts of the shoulder blade. Affordable and full of marbled flavor, they’re a good cold weather dish, slow braised in syrupy, thick sauces. Since it’s finally spring — I haven’t seen snow since the second week of April — and since we’ve all agreed not to mention winter again until at least Christmas, we decided to dust off the grill and barbecue these babies.
For preparation, we stuck to a simple dry rub applied the night before cooking, but of course there’s always more than one way to cook a pig. Yesterday my husband picked up a jar of Clark’s Elioak Farm apple butter barbecue sauce, flavored with horseradish and molasses and made without preservatives. The sauce would have been a fantastic compliment to these ribs, brushed on in the last five minutes of cooking and allowed to caramelize.
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3½ pounds country-style pork ribs
- Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine.
- Rub the combined spices evenly on all sides of the ribs.
- Place the meat in a 1-gallon resealable bag and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. If you're in a hurry, skip this step. The ribs will still be good.
- Let the ribs sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.
- Heat the grill to medium -- high heat will cause the fat on the meat to scorch. Open a beer. Drink it.
- Place the ribs on the grill, flat site down. Cover the grill and cook until the pork is browned and crusty on the bottom, about 5-7 minutes. Flip, cover, and cook until it’s browned and crusty on the other side, about 5-7 minutes more.
- Rotate the ribs so that they are resting upright, on a thinner side (you may need to prop them up against one another), cover, and cook until browned and crusty, 3-4 minutes. Flip to the other thinner side, cover, and cook until browned and crusty or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thickest rib registers 145°F, about 3-4 minutes more.
- Transfer to a clean serving platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest about 5 minutes before serving.