As I've mentioned twice now, country style ribs are a great value. They can tend to be on the tough/gristle-y side, but the ones we get from our butcher are usually pretty good. Another thing that can be done to prevent toughness besides boiling or slow-cooking, is to cut across the grain, as you would a flank steak. When you cut across the grain, you have perfect little bits for fajitas or stir fry.
I looooove stir fry. If our diets and budgets allowed, I'd get Chinese takeout way more than I currently do. To tie up the gap between the times I actually allow myself takeout, we began experimenting with the wok we got when we got married.
I've mastered fried rice and a basic stir fry. You can really use any meat (or cut) you want. But, like I said, these ribs, when sliced across the grain, make perfect little stir-fry bits. I usually put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes prior to slicing, so they can firm up, then slice them on a bias, across the grain, pretty thinly. If I see any gristle/fat lines I might get out the meat-hammer, but it isn't usually necessary. If I'm short on time, I'll let the meat marinate while I prepare the veggies and start the noodles/rice (depending on what we are in the mood for) If I have time, I'll marinate the meat before I slice it up, for a much longer period of time (since the marinade won't penetrate the meat as well as when it's sliced.)
From there I take various veggies, and chop them up stir-fry style. Bell peppers get a large dice, carrots sliced thin on the bias, onions become half-rings, zucchini becomes sliced-on-bias half-moons, mushrooms get chopped in half (or quartered if they are big), etc, etc, etc.
For a basic stir fry you need four things. Marinated meat, various veggies, soy sauce/stirfry sauce/leftover marinade, and oil. Olive oil will work, but the meat won't brown up as nicely as with a canola or vegetable oil. You'll only need a few tablespoons of oil to begin with, once its heated, throw in the meat and the marinade. Cook the meat until it is almost done, flip it around if needed (to cook on both sides), then throw in the vegetables. Now, you really only want to blanch the veggies, so after about a minute, its done! If you are using noodles, I like to throw those (cooked, of course) in after the veggies cook for a few moments. I toss the contents of the wok around to coat and serve it up in bowls with chop sticks. It is kind of like a one dish meal (got your meats, your veggies, your carbs, all in one bowl).
Below is my marinade, but there are some pretty awesome (and high-fructose-free) sauces on the shelf at the store. You can also stop by an Asian Grocer and find some really cool stuff to experiment with. (fish sauce, various brands of stir-fry sauce, etc)
Corinne's "Asian" Marinade (use for a 1-2 lb package of country style ribs)
- 1 cup soy sauce (if you don't want to use this much soy sauce, water it down or use broth to make up a 1 cup amount of liquid)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed/roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
- 1 Tablespoon peanut butter, melted