Different porks for different forks

Try looking up a recipe for pork spareribs. Winnow out the BBQ (a troubling thought, I know--but this is only an exercise). Set aside the Chinese recipes. What you're left with is a smattering of Hawaiian influences, and a bunch of outliers. What if you're looking for something else? Something...Germanic, perhaps?

Well, if you don't have sauerkraut handy, good luck. You're on your own.

This was where I found myself: two big packages of boneless pork spareribs in the freezer, and a hankering for that Germanic intermingling of sour, sweet, and savory. My wife is a good sport, in spite of some notorious missteps. (Let's not discuss my attempt at rabbit, okay?) I thawed one package and left the other behind in case this turned truly...unfortunate.

I whipped up a fairly ad hoc marinade of apple juice, maple syrup, Dijon mustard (in an approximate 6:3:1 ratio), a splash of Worcestershire sauce, and some minced garlic and shallots. It probably ended up being about two cups of marinade for five spareribs. They bathed for almost a day, and on my way home from work I picked up some Bavarian pretzels for a crust.

Since there aren't any recipes for boneless spareribs cooked this way--and for good reason, I suspect--I kind of winged it using some pork chop recipes for inspiration. In fact, there's a pretzel-crusted pork chop recipe on Epicurious, which proved especially helpful. I'm a food writer, not a chef, after all.

One side of each rib was dusted in flour, dipped in egg, and pressed into the Mini-Prepped pretzels. I'll say this: my mise en place apportioning was pretty spectacular. Didn't need to chop more pretzels, didn't need more flour or egg. I'm getting an eye for some of this stuff, at least.

Crust-side down, the ribs went into two frying pans (neither was big enough for all five), each with about two tablespoons of butter. Got 'em nice and brown, then flipped the ribs and put them into the oven, preheated to 410. While I was browning the pretzel side, I was rendering out some bacon fat for the side dish: Brussels sprouts.

The ribs would spend about 8 minutes in the oven (gotta love All-Clad pans), during which time I gave the Brussels sprouts the business, with a little minced garlic and brown sugar sprinkled in near the end.

Everything actually ended up being cooked properly, with two minor gaffes. The pretzel crust stayed in one piece, but that piece didn't adhere to the ribs themselves. It was a pretzel toupee. Also, this style of cooking doesn't properly dispatch the connective tissue that runs through the typical sparerib. As such, a couple areas of the finished product were unpleasant. Figures, my wife got those.

The flavors came through pretty well, too; unfortunately, neither dish was really to my wife's liking, which puts a damper on any meal. You want everyone at the table to be happy, and these flavors were much more in my wheelhouse than hers. But a fine plate of Brussels it was, with some rough-chopped bacon bits.

Couldn't quite please everyone with this one; I may try it again with pork chops rather than spareribs. But this time, at least, I was able to plate a dish that was actually edible and properly prepared. So there's that.