Heating our place with a wood stove has been challenging for some reasons, and lovely for others. The 2am wake up to add some logs to the fire gets a little old, the bi-weekly refilling of the wood rack takes some time. But the pleasure of having cast iron pots slowly simmering on the stove from morning to evening, spreading smells that make you looking forward to dinner time all day long, truly makes up for it.
(picture by Rebecca Bloomfield Photography)
One of my favorite meals to have on a cold winter evening after a day outside is riblets. Whether they’re slow braised in the oven or on the wood stove top, or pressure cooked when I don’t have much time, they make me feel all nourished and pampered.
As always, this is a forgiving recipe, herbs are easily exchanged for others, and if you run out of wine you can add some broth. The best thing about truly good, delicious ingredients is that you don’t need much more than some salt, broth and a fire to make something truly spectacular.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Couple of spoons full of lard/butter
2 lbs of lamb or mutton riblets
4 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon minced sage
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
Half a bottle of red wine
A quart of broth
As always, we play around with what we have, so no need to make a supermarket run if you’re out of one of the herbs.
How to cook it:
Sprinkle the riblets with salt, pepper, minced garlic, marjoram and sage. Add some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and let marinate for a couple of hours to overnight.
When done marinating, warm up the oven to 275F.
Heat up a large cast iron/enamel/roasting pan over high heat. Add the lard or butter, then the riblets, and brown them all around.
Set the meat aside, lower the fire and add the onion and after a few more minutes the carrots. After about 11 minutes, when the onions are soft and sweet, add the herb/vinegar/oil mixture plus the wine and cook it down a bit. Return the riblets to the pot, then add the tomatoes and broth, until the riblets are halfway covered with liquids.
Now cover the pot with cast iron lid, and put it in the oven. Take off the lid in the last 30 minutes. It usually takes me about 2.5 / 3 hrs to get the most tender riblets.
Serve it over polenta. Or if you don’t feel like having another pot to wash, add a few cut up potatoes to the pot, a little extra broth and have a complete one pot meal.
Done. The kind of meal you wish every frosty night would begin with. That makes you feel like your body got exactly what it was longing for. Nourishment, warmth and all those good fats that you’ve been craving all along.
* Picture taken by terrible artificial light while having a truly impatient stomach waiting to devour this goodness.