The active-living and unpretentious Gary Cooper family are fond of simple food. Gary often grills steak in the garden of their Los Angeles house on Sundays. Weekday favorites, well memorized by their Danish cook Lilly, include cheese soufflé and her special Danish pancakes folded over sour cream and jelly. But the one dish this family likes most of all—Gary, Rocky and daughter Maria are agreed—is spareribs and sauerkraut, served with green applesauce. "Lilly's a wonder at the whole thing," Rocky told me, and then had her demonstrate to prove it.
So here is Lilly's production. If the directions are followed closely, it is not unlikely that this Cooper household favorite will become one of yours, too. It has been a great addition to my own cooking repertoire, because it's absolutely the best dish of spareribs anyone has ever eaten. And canned sauerkraut, prepared as detailed below, tastes exactly as if it had been made at home.
CRUSTY SPARERIBS A LA COOPER (Serves four)
Buy two sides of pork ribs. Have the butcher select the 10 meatiest ribs on each side, remove all possible fat and cut into two-bone portions. Arrange in a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place this pan, uncovered, in a preheated 450 ° oven till ribs are brown—that is, about 40 minutes. Then remove all melted fat from the pan with a squeeze-type baster. Add ½ cup water. Cover pan with lid and replace in oven for ½ hour. This steams and tenderizes the spareribs.
Now brush the ribs with about ¾ cup of barbecue sauce to cover all surfaces. (The Coopers use Trader Vic's Barbecue Glaze.) Place pan, uncovered, in oven for ½ hour, basting frequently. Serve very hot and crusty, together with cold green applesauce and the following hot delight, timed to be ready simultaneously.
LILLY'S SPECIAL SAUERKRAUT
Combine one No. 2½-size can of Libby's sauerkraut with ¼ cup canned applesauce, 1 cup strong veal or chicken broth, 1 small grated onion, 1 tablespoon of caraway seed, ½ teaspoon white pepper and 1 medium-sized raw potato, grated fine. Cook uncovered in a very thick pan over medium heat until the juice thickens. This will take about one hour.