In recognition of 137 years of the United States no longer being our colony, I felt I should make something a little American on Monday. Something traditional and a wee bit unhealthy. Something like ribs. Not having a giant gas-fired, all-weather grill of the sort seen adorning patios, yards and decks everywhere in the southern States, I chose a recipe that was mainly oven-based, requiring only a brief stint under the grill (what the yanks confusingly call the broiler) to crisp them up. Result; meltingly tender meat with crispy, sticky outside. This also gave me an opportunity to use some of my purple carrots. Purple! Carrots! in a purple-and-only-slightly-orange coleslaw. Amazing.
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2009
Before I’d even begun I went way off recipe as my butcher had 3 tiny ribs left and rather a lot of pork belly. I treated the belly in the same way as the ribs, apart from not removing the skin as it was stuck fast. I had no wish to eat it as it was still full of hairs (apparently my pig was mainly pink with some black spots) but it’s much easier to remove once it’s been cooked. I also cut down on the sugar since I find balsamic vinegar quite sweet anyway, and it seems to defeat the point of the recipe a little to load it down with sugar. Ok, maybe not if you’re American. Whatever, the balance below worked well, still sweet but just tangy enough to really make your mouth water.
300-400g ribs, or belly, or a mixture
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1. Prepare the ribs; trim any excess fat off them, remove the skin if you can. Place the ribs in a small baking dish that is just big enough to hold them.
2.In a small bowl stir together the garlic powder, rosemary, sugar, balsamic vinegar and cayenne. Spoon this mixture over the ribs, turning so they are coated on all sides, then wrap the baking dish in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight.
3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200 C. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the tray and wrap tightly with foil, shiny side facing inwards. Cook in the oven for 1 3/4 hours, checking halfway and three-quarters of the way through cooking that the water hasn’t evaporated. Add a little more if it has, and rewrap.
4. While the ribs are cooking put the 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until reduced down to about 1 tablespoon of sticky glaze.
5. When cooked, remove the ribs from the oven. Turn on the grill. Drain off any excess fat in the baking pan and brush the ribs with the glaze, then pop under the grill for 4-5 minutes, until brown, sticky and a bit crispy on top. Remove from grill, brush with any remaining glaze and serve with coleslaw and cornbread.