After a weekend of gluttony where Jim and I ate out on both Friday and Saturday nights, then warmed up some frozen (but homemade!) ragu for an easy pasta dinner on Sunday, Monday I redeemed myself and cooked us one of the most unhealthy dinners we’ve ever had at home.
Courtesy of my holiday-gifted subscription to Food & Wine, I indulged with their recipe for Asian Baby Back Ribs with Panko-Crusted Mushrooms. I even started marinating the ribs on Sunday night. I’m making this thinking-ahead thing into a habit.
One thing puzzled me though–the bit in the recipe about removing the membrane on the underside of the ribs. What the hell is a membrane doing on my ribs? Jim, ever close with our butcher, had promised me he would ask about it when he bought the ribs. Going to the butcher is such a joy for him, I don’t like to intrude.
But, unexpectedly, when Jim received the ribs, they were frozen. I’ve often wondered why the butcher keeps some meats frozen and others not. A question for our next Saturday visit, I suppose. In any case, Jim figured that the membrane, whether there or not, could not be removed from frozen ribs. The problem became ours to solve.
Helpless as always with meat, I just couldn’t figure out if the membrane was there or not. I stood at the counter, lifting the rack this way and that, cutting slashes through some white stuff that could have been membrane. We scraped at the meat with a spoon, as Jim had seen on America’s Test Kitchen. (Yes, it’s his favorite show.) Was it there? Would it kill us if we left it on by mistake? Jim finally went on the trusty Internet, and after finding some pictures, deemed that from the looks of things, said membrane must have already been removed. Also, some other site said the butcher usually does it. That’s all I needed to hear. I threw the ribs in with the marinade, and settled in front of the television. Good night.
So that was Sunday evening. Monday was a new day. While the ribs cooked in the oven, I moved on to phase 2 of the recipe: the panko-crusted shrooms. I am embarrassed to admit that my parents knew about panko before I did, but it’s true. My parents are cooler than I am.
But the panko worked wonders on the fried little guys. Even after swimming around in oil for a few minutes, the crumbs were still very crusty in the end, like crunchy bits of confetti. The ribs were good too, fairly juicy and light, with a nice bite of rice vinegar. I did make our usual arugula salad, as I felt so guilty about all the meat and fried bits. Fried bits tend to do that.