I love ribs, but truth be told, we don’t do them that often, because prepping and cooking them correctly doesn’t lend itself to spontaneous decisions. I know better, but for some reason, a relatively quick and delicious solution doesn’t seem to present itself when I’m contemplating a rack at the store.
The light bulb did turn on the other night however, whilst reading a historical novel set in 19th century Paris. The characters were enjoying ‘Deviled Bones with Diablo sauce’, and instantly that classic recipe I’d not prepared in decades swum into memory.
Deviled Bones and Sauce a al Diable harken back to Auguste Escoffier, a founding father of French quisine. ‘A la diable’ refers not only to the sauce, but to the method of broiling poultry or beef that has been coated in breadcrumbs. Sauce Diable is a derivation of the classic French brown sauce. While formal preparation of a brown sauce is quite involved in both time and technique, there are cheats that will provide the proper essence of the real McCoy in short order.
Regular visitors here know I advocate making stock at home on a regular basis, reducing some, freezing some, and thereby having it ready to hand at a moments inspiration. If you don’t do that in your kitchen yet, all is not lost; store bought stock and broth options are readily available these days, and you can find good ones with little or no salt or preservatives. A savvy cook will have beef, chicken, and veggie stock or broth in the pantry at all times.
With that in hand, I’ll share a brown sauce cheat that will fool even finicky diners, and you’ll get introduced to a very versatile thickening method, beurre manié.
Deviled bones was originally made from the left over, meaty ribs of several standing rib roasts. In days past, this would be considered a form of garde manger, making sensible, (and delicious), use of what would otherwise be considered waste. Nowadays, you’d need to secure attractive loan terms to afford a single standing rib roast, so we’ll use beef spare ribs instead, which are relatively cheap and plentiful.
We’ll prepare the brown sauce first while the ribs boil, then the a la diable derivative, then broil the ribs. All told, this is easily done within an hour to an hour and a half, tops.
Depending on the size of the ribs you find, you’ll want two to three per person as an entrée.
To parboil the ribs, set a large stock pot 2/3 filled with lightly salted water over high heat. When the water boils, carefully add the ribs and adjust heat so you maintain a rolling boil. Cook ribs until they are no longer pink, about 15 to 20 minutes. When they’re done, removed them to a colander and set aside to cool.
Quick Brown Sauce
1 1/2 Cups Beef Stock or Broth
1 Cup dry Red Wine
1 small yellow Onion
1 stalk Celery
1 small Carrot
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Wondra Flour
Pinch of Thyme
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Rinse, peel, and dice veggies to a relatively uniform size.
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of butter at room temperature with the wondra flour. Incorporate by hand, and the roll the resulting dough into marble sized balls. This combination is the thickener known as beurre manié; it is made in the same proportions as roux, but is not cooked prior to incorporation as a roux is. Set aside for use a bit later.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add all veggies to the pan and sauté, stirring steadily, until the onion becomes translucent. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Increase temperature to medium high and add the red wine; gently scrape any cooked bits from the pan.
When the raw alcohol smell has been cooked off, add the beef broth or stock; allow the sauce to come to a brisk simmer. Add the thyme and stir in. Continue cooking, stirring steadily, until the sauce has reduced by roughy 50%.
Reduce heat to medium low, and begin adding balls of beurre manié one at a time, allowing each to melt and incorporate prior to adding another. You are after a consistently slightly looser than gravy, so when you get close, stop adding the beurre and remove the sauce from heat; the sauce will continue to cook and thicken somewhat.
Run the sauce through a single mesh strainer to remove the veggies and herbs.
Now for the a la diable variant; this is a delicious sauce for any grilled meat or veggie, frankly, (Absolutely fabulous with roasted Brussels sprouts).
Sauce a la Diable
1 1/2 Cup Brown Sauce
1/2 Cup Red Wine, (Burgundy is great)
1 small sweet Onion
1 small Lemon
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Dash(es) Tabasco Sauce
Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper
Rinse, peel and mince the onion.
Rinse, zest and juice the lemon.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
Add the wine and gently scrape the cooked bits from the pan.
When the raw alcohol smell has cooked off, add the brown sauce, Worcestershire, lemon zest, and mustard; whisk steadily to incorporate and heat through.
Reduce heat to low and season with lemon juice, tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. You want a bit of zip to the flavor, so adjust that to your liking.
Simmer sauce over low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When ready for service, add, melt, and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Run the sauce through a single mesh strainer, and serve hot.
Minced Capers or Cornichons.
Now it’s time to roll them bones. This recipe will do nicely for four folks.
Par boiled beef ribs, 2-3 per person
2 cups fresh, finely crushed bread crumbs, (Sourdough is wonderful, as are Panko)
4 ounces unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
Preheat your broiler and set a rack a good 8″ beneath.
Melt the butter and whisk it together with the vinegar in a pie plate.
Place the bread crumbs in a second pie plate.
Place ribs 2 or 3 at a time in the butter and vinegar and coat evenly, then roll the ribs through the bread crumbs, and press lightly to help them stick.
Arrange ribs in a broiling pan, leaving about an inch between each.
Broil slowly, keeping an eye on the ribs. Turn the ribs with tongs steadily to create a nice, even golden brown coating.
You want about 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time, so if things are going too quickly, drop your pan another notch.
Serve hot with the sauce a la diable, mashed potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts.