Korean BBQ Wild Pork Ribs

We went to Oklahoma last spring to try our hand at pig hunting at Chain Ranch. Unfortunately, we never did the chance to shoot a pig, but another hunter in our group did. He shot a small pig and decided that the ribs were not worth the effort to take home. So we offered to take them off his hands. Thus, what was one man's trash became another man's (and woman's) dinner. 

Wild pork ribs are noticeably lean and less robust than domestic pork ribs. Putting them directly on the grill or smoker would've been disaster, so we decided that braising them low and slow would be the best option. Remembering an old Alton Brown pork ribs recipe, this method would allow the connective tissues in the ribs to break down while keeping the meat moist. After that, you can broil or grill the ribs for some char and/or smoke.

You can buy ready-made Korean BBQ sauce in many Asian grocery stores, but this recipe is made from scratch and adapted for braising. I have to say that we got pretty close. Though the Asian pear was expensive and hard to find in our parts, it is a must to get that authentic Korean flavor. You can also use this sauce (without the white wine) to marinate sliced venison for grilling or sautéing to serve with white rice-- a recipe called "bulgogi." 

Servings: 2 (double recipe for 2 sides of pork ribs)
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 3 hours or longer
- 1 side of wild pork ribs
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of cooking rice wine (not vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon of Asian toasted sesame oil 
- Half a small onion
- Half an Asian pear (or bosc pear), cored and peeled
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 chopped green onions, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup of white wine
- toasted sesame seeds

This is what an Asian pear looks like. We found at an Asian store in Omaha, but I have seen it in some American grocery stores. They are expensive, ranging from $2-3 per pear. They have tough yellow skin that needs to be peeled, and a white flesh that is surprisingly very juicy, crunchy and sweet. Asian pears are used in Korean cooking for its ability to tenderize meat. 
1. Preheat oven to 225°F. Rinse ribs under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Be sure to remove any dirt or hair. 

2. To make the marinade, puree onion and Asian pear in a food processor until smooth. Then pour mixture into a bowl and combine with soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, black pepper and green onions. Pour marinade and ribs into a zip lock bag and massage to distribute marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Place a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, shiny side down. Remove the ribs from its bag and lay it flat on the foil. Pour the marinade over the ribs. 
Fold the top and bottom over to make a packet and roll up one side. Pour in white wine through the open end and then roll up that side to seal. Shift the packet back and forth to distribute the liquids. 

4. Place package into the oven with the cookie sheet and bake at 225 degrees until tender, about 3 hours or longer. Time will depend on the animal's age. Check periodically -- add more wine or water if the inside of the packet starts to look dry.

5. Once tender, remove ribs from the foil and set aside. Pour braising liquid into a saucepan and reduce over high heat by about half, or thickened enough for brushing.

Brush sauce over the ribs and caramelize under the broiler, or use the sauce to baste the ribs on a hot grill to get a slight char. 

Cut ribs into desired size pieces and garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.