Hoosier Pork Spare Rib and Sweet Potato Stew



I make this just once or twice a year; the fatty spareribs earmark it as a treat. The recipe is from a wonderful cookbook, Stews, Bogs & Burgoos, by James Villas. Several beef stews, the Hungarian goulash, a cider pork stew, and the pumpkin, kidney bean and sausage pot are all great. The recipes are from all over the United States.

The ingredients in this recipe, some of which might sound odd, combine for a really tasty dinner.  I use beef broth instead of water for an additional flavor boost. To save a little time, I dump the ribs and the marinade ingredients into a large zip baggie. That lets me skip the basting recommended in the author’s directions.

We usually eat this with a green salad to feel a little bit virtuous . . . after we lick the stew bowls clean.



Hoosier Pork Spareribs and Sweet Potato Stew



8 meaty country-style pork spareribs, 3 to 4 lbs.

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1 medium sweet or yellow onion, minced

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 tsp. dried sage, crumbled

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup water or beef broth

3 large, orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths


Trim and discard any excess fat from the ribs. Use a cleaver or heavy knife to whack the ribs in half (I didn’t find this necessary because most of the meat eventually will fall off the bones).

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, 1/2 cup of the orange juice, the onion, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire and sage and stir till well-blended. Pour the marinade into a large baggie and add ribs. Seal the baggie, squishing out the air, and make sure the ribs are covered with marinade. (Alternatively, cover the ribs with marinade in a baking dish and cover with plastic. Baste with marinade from time to time.) Chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the ribs and pat dry, reserving the marinade. In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderately high heat, and brown ribs on all sides. Add the reserved marinade along with water or beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to get up any browned bits.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook the stew 1 hour. Add the sweet potatoes and  the rest of the orange juice, cover and return the stew to a simmer. Cook until the pork and sweet potatoes are tender, about another hour.

Pick out the bones. If desired, chill overnight and scrape the fat from the top. Reheat and serve.

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