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Hoosier Pork Spareribs and Sweet Potato Stew

"Simple as pie," said the waitress explaining to James Villas, author of "Stews, Bogs and Burgoos," her secret for this sumptuous one-dish dinner. With the gentle tang of orange juice and a dab of mustard, these meltingly tender pork ribs color and flavor the sweet potatoes simmered with them. Serve with crusty bread for sopping sauce.

8 meaty country-style pork spareribs (about 3 pounds)
1 cup red wine vinegar
11/2 cups orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered

Trim and discard any excess fat from the ribs, and, using a meat cleaver, heavy knife, or hatchet, whack the ribs in half.

In a baking dish or large bowl, combine the vinegar, 1/2 cup of the orange juice, the onion, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire and sage, and stir till well blended. Arrange the ribs in the marinade, baste well, cover with the plastic wrap, and let marinate at least 6 hours in the refrigerator, basting from time to time. Remove the ribs from the marinade and pat dry, reserving the marinade.

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat, add the ribs, brown on all sides. Add the reserved marinade, plus the water and scrape the bottom of the pot to get up any browned bits.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Add the sweet potatoes and the remaining 1 cup of orange juice, return the stew to a simmer and cook till the pork is nearly falling off the bone and sweet potatoes are very tender, about another hour. Serves 4 to 6.

"Stews, Bogs and Burgoos" by James Villas

Thursday, February 18, 1999

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