Welcome to all about food. With the weather impossible to predict, each week seems to be dictating my workload for me.
When a dry period arrives I’m out cutting rhubarb and checking the gooseberries; when the rain comes, it’s time to get jam making and baking. One thing that the rain never interferes with however is my barbequing. I simply refuse to let it beat me! I am not optimistic enough to assume that the food itself can be enjoyed al fresco but no matter what the weather – or indeed time of year – I will always light up my barbeque. Let’s face it, if we were to wait for a full day of sunshine we might only get to cook outdoors four times a year so take my advice, wheel out the barbeque, grab a coat and get cooking!
I have always enjoyed barbeques and am keen to improve my skills. My main problem is spare ribs. No matter how hard I try I always seem to end up with very dry meat or burnt bones! Is there a secret to getting them right?
Done right, spare ribs will make you king of the barbeque! Get the ribs from your local butcher, this way you can ensure the ribs are prepped correctly. Your butcher, for example, will remove the silver type skin from the underside of the bones – this membrane is chewy and it will block the marinade tenderising the meat. The ribs need to be well seasoned and the marinade not overly sweet – sweet marinades often stop the true meat flavours from shining through. Finally, low and slow works best. Roasting the ribs before finishing on the barbeque will break down the collagen transforming the meat to fall-off-the–bone-luscious-ribs.
Barbeque spare ribs
Serves 4, probably with leftovers:
2 kg of pork rib racks, trimmed by your butcher
For the marinade:
5 teaspoons of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of fresh thyme, finely chopped
A handful of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
The zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 bulb of garlic, crushed and chopped
6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
200ml of ketchup
8 tablespoons of olive oil
Place the ribs in a large baking tray. Rub the smoked paprika into each rib and set aside. In a pestle and mortar grind the cumin seeds and cloves with sea salt and black pepper. Place the cumin and clove mix in a large bowl with the orange zest, rosemary, thyme and the garlic. Mix together and add the vinegar, orange juice, ketchup and olive oil. Pour the marinade over the meat rubbing the sauce over each rib. Cover and keep in the fridge over night. The next day, take the tray from the fridge one hour before cooking – the ribs cook best from room temperature. Preheat the oven to 160ºc and bake the ribs, covered in foil, for an hour and a half. (When the ribs are roasting light the barbeque and bring to a medium heat - too high and the marinade will burn.) Remove the ribs from the oven and allow to cool slightly before placing on the barbeque. Sear the ribs on one side then turn. Using a brush, rub the juices from the roasting tray over the meat, turning and brushing the meat as it colours. Once sticky and slightly charred remove the ribs from the heat and allow to rest for a few minutes. Serve with fresh limes, salsa and cool beer.
Check out www.gingergirl.ie/recipes for a selection of salad and salsa recipes, perfect for barbeque days.