Edward's Birthday Ribs: An Instant Pot Love Story


Edward The Savage on the afternoon of his eighth birthday.

Edward The Savage on the afternoon of his eighth birthday.

Future sticky fingers.


I love my Instant Pot. LOVE. IT. I would give up half of my kitchen equipment before I let go of of this miraculous contraption. I knew it was something I needed in my life when I read it cooked beans from dry in less than an hour AND without an overnight soak or quick-boil. I bought it for the beans, I fell in love because of the ribs. (Also, hardboiled eggs peel like dream!)

I am not much of a planner when it comes to cooking. Life is busy, plans change, and I don't always know what I might want to eat three days from now. I also hate planning and shopping for a future meal, only to be felled by a Bad Migraine Day. The truth is, my disease often makes it hard to plan ahead and sometimes just exhausts me. Checking off the essentials during the day, like going to work and running after the kids, while under the influence of my Migraine Brain, sometimes means I don't have the energy to make a meal when I'm home in the evening. And sometimes I don't plan ahead, just so I'm not disappointed when I end up in bed instead of the kitchen. So when I got my Instant Pot and started looking for recipes to try, I was thrilled to see that so many people were making ribs in their Instant Pots. Everyone in our family loves ribs. This recipe is so easy and quick, if I'm feeling well I can decide to make them for dinner at 4 in the afternoon, do a quick grocery run, and have dinner ready by 6:30. It's a luxurious thing for someone whose disease is a time thief. I'm not going to lie -- I kind of went crazy making ribs for about three months. I made them five times, five different ways. I thought everyone was sick of them, until Edward requested them for his birthday meal this year. He calls it "Steak With a Bone". He devoured eight ribs on his eighth birthday then declared himself a savage over his plate of bones. Edward loves food, eats with enthusiasm, and talks about what he eats like a thoughtful little critic. He is very excited about this blog and made me promise to share this recipe next. 

This recipe relies on a trick that make these ribs stand out over other recipes for preparing ribs indoors rather than in a smoker: A magic broth of umami goodness and liquid smoke that permeates the meat as it cooks under pressure. A quick rest under the broiler after you sauce them gets them all glazed and sticky. This is an incredibly versatile recipe. I've made a few different bbq versions, also teriyaki versions -- Just change the rub and sauce to change the style of rib you make. Use the following as a guideline for the process and get as creative as you'd like. I've included the cooking procedure and two different rubs to get you started. This recipe is super easy to scale up or down. I have made this for as few as four and as many as 16.



Edward's Birthday Ribs, AKA Steak With a Bone

You need an 8 Qt or larger Instant Pot + wire trivet rack
1 to 2 racks St. Louis pork spare ribs, approx. 4 to 8 pounds
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cracked dried rosemary
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground Ancho chile powder
2 cups water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional. It may seem weird. It won't taste fishy!)

Pat ribs dry. Remove the membrane/silverskin from the back of the ribs, if necessary. Don't skip this easy-to-do step! (Simple instructions may be found here: https://www.finecooking.com/article/how-to-remove-silverskin-from-ribs )
Mix salt, brown sugar, rosemary, garlic powder, black pepper, and Ancho together in a small bowl. Generously rub this mixture all over ribs, massaging pretty well to ensure it sticks.
In a measuring cup, stir water, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and fish sauce together. Pour into Instant Pot cooking insert. The liquid will just cover the bottom with about a half inch to inch of depth.
Place wire trivet rack in cooking insert with liquid ingredients. Roll racks of ribs to fit, ribs standing vertically, as pictured above. The meaty side should face out. If you have a spare sprig or two of rosemary, throw that in, too. 
Position lid and secure.
Position vent to SEALING.
Choose PRESSURE COOK and set Pressure Level to High.
Using the + button, set timer for 25 minutes. (Remember, cooking time does not start counting down until unit reaches full pressure, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes.)
Disable KEEP WARM if it is on.
When the timer beeps at the end of the cooking time, allow the ribs to rest 15 minutes before turning the QUICK RELEASE valve.
Carefully remove lid as there will be a lot of condensation and steam.
Remove ribs to foil-lined cookie sheet, meaty side up. 
Slather with your choice of sauce and broil until sticky looking and bubbly.

Alternately, you may prepare the rub with...
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground Szechwan pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger

This version is great with teriyaki sauce and sprinkled with scallions and sesame seeds after the broil.

Happy cooking, all! 

 

The BEST Blueberry Pancakes


Pancakes.jpg

Worth the time

With or without the blueberries, this recipe is worth the few minutes of time it takes to make them from scratch.


These pancakes are what the most joyful Saturday and Sunday mornings smell like in my house. 
I thought it would be nice to have my first post be my favorite recipe that I make for my family. I spent two years trying different variations of these pancakes. They are definitely extra-special; tall and fluffy, rich with butter and vanilla. The edges get just a little bit crispy and the blueberries stay whole until you burst them with your fork. Edward and Elsa have both asked for these on their birthdays, but I didn't commit to a final recipe until Tim told me these were the best, one morning on his birthday.
It may seem strange to spend two years working on one recipe, but I think it has been time well spent. And I've had to spend a lot of time lately considering, and very deeply, just what my time and energy are worth. I have been living with Chronic Daily Migraine and persistent mental health issues since I was 17. I have been living my life like my disease was something I could manage through grit and determination. Compartmentalize, ignore, power through. I didn't take care of myself because I thought that if I felt well enough, my time was better spent on any- and everything else. Unless the pain was blinding, I needed to be doing something. My time felt too expensive to spend on myself.
Except in the kitchen. I don't know why I find it so easy to indulge myself in food and cooking, but it is a pleasure I tend to quite relentlessly. I love the alchemy and magic of preparing good, homey food. My favorite meals as a child were at my Great-Grandmother Lois's table in Audubon, Iowa. Simple food, well-prepared -- Five loaves of bread baked every morning. Strawberry rhubarb pie. The best fried chicken I've ever eaten. Neon green sweet pickles. Deviled eggs. Thanksgiving turkey and buttery mashed potatoes. Chicken and dumplings I would do anything to eat again. She cooked not only to nourish us, but to show us love. She took the time to make food with her hands, to prove we were cared for. I am drawn to the kitchen to show my family and family of friends the very same things. It is worth the time it takes to get a few things from the pantry and make a little bigger mess, to show my son and daughter that my time is not too expensive for them.


Blueberry Smile.

Blueberry Smile.

The BEST Blueberry Pancakes

1.5 cups flour, sifted (I use King Arthur All Purpose for this)
3.5 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
Generous pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (Penzeys Double-Strength is wonderful)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Zest & juice of one lemon (optional)
About a pint of blueberries (optional)

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. 
Combine wet ingredients, except for butter, and mix well.
Lightly mix wet ingredients by pouring into dry ingredients, stirring/folding butter in last. Let stand for 10 minutes. The batter will be fluffy and light. Pour by 1/3 cup-fulls onto 325° griddle. (Presto Tilt'nDrain Big Griddle may be the best $26 I ever spent.) Sprinkle blueberries onto pancakes after they're poured onto the griddle. Flip pancakes when lots of bubbles have come to the surface. Only flip once. Keep warm on cookie sheet in low oven. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

Time to flip!

Time to flip!