Friday, June 4, 2010

Slow-braised Spicy Ribs

Slow-braised Spicy Ribs
Home Cooking

Another dinner party. Another Masterchef recipe. Is anyone else spotting a trend here?

Cooking and wine-drinking with friends = my life is good

In any case, despite the repetitive nature of my home cooking posts, I make no apologies for this particular one. Everyone loves ribs (besides vegetarians I guess and even then... a taste should hook them) and ribs are one of those rare meat items I've had some degree of success with. I made slow-cooked cola ribs a long while back and dad made Korean-marinated ribs recently. He just grilled them in the oven and the difference between that and slow-cooked was quite obvious. For that reason, I went with that more time-consuming method as my contribution to the dinner party.

There's actually a bit of a back-story to this... I was rostered off clinic that day and usually, I take that time to work in the afternoon. It so happens that a career development seminar was planned for that afternoon and I convinced myself to go, at the expense of my work shift. What ended up happening is that I woke up late, had to buy the ribs and by the time I came back, there wasn't enough time to go to the seminar because if I started them up when it finished, they wouldn't be 'slow-cooked'. At least that's what I told myself at the time. I literally got dressed and walked half-way to the bustop, walked back some, walked towards the bustop again and then decisively back home...

Frankly, I think I've proven my laziness enough in this blog for the above to be perfectly conceivable.

Moving on back to my food. These ribs were inspired by Gary's recipe in Masterclass. I followed his ingredients as a base of my dish (albeit changing quantities, omitting certain items I didn't have and replacing bourbon with coke) but then elaborated the flavors with odd items I had in the pantry. Because much of it was based on taste and adjustment, I won't be too specific with the quantities because often, it was a matter of thinking 'bit more of ___' and just splashing it in.

The process is really easy if you have a slow-cooker. It absolutely tastes away any conception of slow-cooking being tedious/effortful. I created a dry rub with dry ingredients and marinated my ribs in that for ~ 1 hr. Then, I seared off the ribs and made the sauce. At that stage, I didn't even bother reducing the sauce and instead, just poured the liquid over my ribs and let it all stew on low in the slow-cooker for ~ 3 hrs. I tested that the meat was tender by prodding a bit off the end with a fork. After that, I separated the meat from the liquid and poured the liquid into a small saucepan to reduce and thicken until it turned into a sauce. This was then brushed onto the ribs and they were char-grilled till the exterior was sticky and caramelized.

This 2-step method of slow-braising and grilling ensures a soft, melty inside and a crispy, textured outside. You can adopt this method with any dry-rub, marinade and sauce of choice.

Slow-braised Spicy Ribs

Serves 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are and whether or not you have sides)

  • 1.5kg pork ribs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
For the dry rub
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp chill powder (I used hot cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
For the marinade
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 250ml malt vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp hot English mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used wholegrain, which isn't really an equal substitute at all)
  • 125ml bourbon (I used 1/2 a can of coca cola)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 jalapeno chili, finely chopped (I omitted this because I didn't have any)
  • 1 orange, peeled rind
  • Other random things I added without keeping track of quantity: lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce

1. Combine rub ingredients in a large bowl. Add ribs to the bowl, using your hands, rub the mixture into the meat to coat completely. Set aside in the fridge for 2-3 hours to marinate (I only had an hour).2. Heat a BBQ or char grill plate over high heat (my slow-cooker pan can be put directly on the heat so I just used that). Drizzle olive oil onto ribs and toss to coat. Place ribs fat-side up and cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until sealed.3. Place cooking marinade ingredients and 1 1/2 tsp of salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes until thickened slightly. Remember to taste and adjust as necessary.4. Transfer ribs to a large, non-stick roasting pan and pour over hot marinade. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours or until falling off the bone, turning 3-4 times throughout. (I used my slow-cooker, set to low, and left it there with the lid on for 3hrs). According to Gary's recipe, if you use the oven you can then serve the ribs like that with some lime cheeks. My recipe continues as below.
5. Take the liquid from the slow-cooker and pour into a small saucepan. Boil and reduce until it is a thick BBQ sauce. 6. Brush onto your ribs and char-grill on a BBQ or high heat of your stovetop until caramelized and crisp on the exterior. Serve immediately.

These ribs were very well-received. My best friend Katherine is absolute spice-phobic (I suspect she is one of those who thinks honey mustard dressing at Subway is too hot) and as predicted, my ribs were too spicy for her but she endured and finished her lot. She claims this is due to deliciousness rather than politeness. Byron rarely compliments my cooking (well to be fair, the number of times I actually cook is equally rare) but he requested I remake these ribs the next day.

Close-up piccy

Finally, I'm sure that my own opinion counts too since I'm an amateur meat connoisseur and I've had some shockingly awful ribs in restaurants but these, I am not hesitant to say, were fabulous. I'll unpuff my ego-inflated chest a bit to admit that most of it is due to the process of slow-cooking (thank you my beloved slow-cooker) and char-grilling (which Byron was responsible for, not me) rather than any ingeniousness from my end. Nevertheless... give it a go!

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