This time of the year, it is generally hot in Melbourne. After all, the Australian Tennis Open is on!
Today, January 26, is Australia Day and tonight the tennis will be interrupted while the fireworks happen.
It is a contentious date because it celebrates white settlement in Australia. We will happily celebrate on a new day, when the country decides to make the change.
In the meantime we celebrate with a get-together at our place. Everyone will make a contribution and so far we have promises of a terrine, tomato and basil tarts, tabbouleh, a grain salad, some homemade chocolates and an apple cake with berry topping. We will set up in the backyard, and we will place a few sprigs of flowering gum in the centre of the table – our symbolic fireworks.
We will contribute with some marinated Asian-style chicken and some pork spare ribs and some homemade sourdough bread.
If you have been to the US, you may have enjoyed a rack of pork ribs at a barbecue restaurant. The meat would have fallen off the bone, been as tender as, and would have been smothered in a zingy barbecue sauce. Over the years we tried to recreate the same result, but with little luck, and certainly with no consistency. Too often the pork would be tough, dry and chewy.
Fortunately, in recent times, we came across Donna Hay’s recipe for Texan-style pork ribs. It is a two-stage process that consistently produces great results. We now use that method or technique for other recipes and meats as well.
Try the recipe as is, then make your own variations. The following comments about our experiences and variations might be of assistance.
- Once we bring the ribs to the boil we turn them down to a low simmer for ten minutes or so, then turn the heat off, covered. The ribs will still continue to cook. Bring back to the boil briefly if necessary.
- We don’t discard the cooking liquid used to poach the ribs as it produces a very usable and tasty stock. But for that we would only add six to eight cloves of garlic, rather than a bulb. And we might throw in some normal aromatics (some celery, onion or carrot). Keep the cooking liquid and use as a light stock for soup, Vietnamese pho, etc. Or poach meat, chicken, duck breasts, etc in it. It will build up even more flavour.
- Experiment with the barbecue-style sauce. Use what similar ingredients you have on hand: honey or left-over jam rather than golden syrup; bottled tomato sauce rather than passata; or chopped tomatoes or half a tin; left over chutney or relish; dash of Indian curry paste, …
- Instead of using water in the sauce mixture, use some of the cooking liquid.
- Sometimes we simply make a mixture of the sauce ingredients, with less water/stock and pour it cold over the ribs in the baking tray. Toss, then pop into the oven. We find there is enough sticky sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to serve with the ribs.
- Try this two stage method with beef or lamb ribs.
Degree of difficulty: 3/5 (moderately difficult) as care is required not to overcook the ribs and to ensure the sauce is at the right, sticky consistency.
The first photo below shows the ribs coated in the sauce just before they went into the oven. The next two show the end result.