Yesterday was a beautiful day in Chicago. The sun was shining, temperature was in the mid-60s, and everyone was out soaking it all up. It reminded me of something I read once about Calvados, the French apple brandy, being like a glass of summer sunshine. That description has always stuck with me and I think it accurately describes good Calvados. Who wouldn’t want a little sunshine in glass? So for Sunday dinner I decided to make some pork ribs Normandy Style, where apples and a good amount of Calvados are used in the sauce/braising liquid. Pork and apples. Two great tastes that taste great together! The only other combination that may be better is chocolate and peanut butter. I knew there was a good recipe for this dish in my mother’s recipe books so I pulled it out. But wait, what’s this in the title about curry?
Like I said, I set out to make these braised ribs with a simple appley sauce but as I was reducing the liquid a thought popped into my head. I’d seen apple-curry sauces on menus and it occurred to me I should test a little of the sauce with some curry powder just to see how it was. It worked. I gave Cheryl a sample to verify before I totally changed the dinner and she wholeheartedly approved. The sauce ends up tasting a bit like the sauce for currywurst but not as tomatoey. I must admit, I’m a little impressed with my experiment. I know it’s not some huge revelation or new flavor (as I’ve seen it on menus) but still, when I added the curry powder and tasted the new sauce it was definitely a “eureka” moment but I kept my clothes on. (Side Roam: That’s an Archimedes reference. I love Dennis Miller-like references, Cheryl simply calls them “obscure” and just shakes her head when I use one. I know she’s rolling her eyes right now.)
See, this is why I really love cooking. You get to tinker around and while not everything works there are moments when you have divine inspiration and try something totally random and it works with such harmony. It’s definitely something my step-mother would have done as she was notorious for adding ingredients that did not belong to recipes. I added just enough curry powder so that it didn’t overpower the apples. It’s more in the background, so you’re going to want to add the curry powder tsp by tsp depending on how much you let the sauce reduce to find the balance you like. Can’t wait to see how the sauce flavors developed overnight for leftovers!
Normandy Style Pork Ribs with an Apple-Curry Sauce
- 12 country-style pork ribs (I used boneless ones here (on sale) but the bone-in ones are better)
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 leeks, thinly sliced
- 2 celery, thinly sliced
- 3 granny smith apples, peeled & cored, and cut into chunks
- 3 shallots, minced
- 1 C Calvados (or 2 C white wine)
- 4 C apple cider
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 3 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)
Season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a heavy bottomed pot heat the oil over med-high heat. Brown all the ribs, remove and set aside.
Sauté the garlic, shallots, carrots, celery, leeks and apples until browned.
Return the ribs to the pot.
Pour the Calvados over the pork and ignite, letting it flame for 2 minutes. Put the top on the pot to extinguish the flames. (If using the wine don’t ignite.)
Next add the cider, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove the ribs and set aside. You now have two options for the sauce.
Option 1: Boil liquid until reduced by half, season to taste, strain liquid, add 3 tsp of curry powder, put the ribs back in the pot and serve.
Option 2: Take out the bay leaves. Then using your immersion blender, puree the vegetables, bring to boil and reduce by half, season, add 3 tsp of curry powder, put the ribs back in the pot and serve.