Sweet and Smoky Ribs (but without a BBQ)

For me the whole charm of ribs is the sheer filthiness of them.  Sticky, sweet, meaty morsels conveniently wrapped around a flavour packed bone to gnaw away at.  All hopes of daintiness and decorum are thrown out of the window, pretty eating this ain’t  – ribs are dirty and I love them.

But lets not stop there, ribs are cheap too, these 2 sets cost just £3 from my local Farmers Market.  Yep ribs are cheap and dirty food my friends which is all kinds of right in my book.

The intention had been to BBQ these bad boys, but once confronted with the BBQ still full of rainwater and coals leftover from 2011 this quickly became an indoor operation.  I still wanted a smokiness though so decided to throw some Lapsang Souchong tea leaves into the coffee grinder for a few seconds to blitz them up (big strands of tea aren’t necessarily nice on a rib).  I had some homemade tomato sauce leftover from making the whey pizzas to use as a base so in the smoky tea powder went.

Now for the Southern spices.  I’ve blogged about Laissez Chef before and if you haven’t sought him and his amazing New Orleans Spice Blend out yet then fear not, you can still do it now and buy through his website.  It tastes like nothing else you will find around on the market and is so good you can literally just dip your finger into the beautifully presented box of spices and eat it! For added sweetness and stickiness out came the treacle, oh how I love treacle!

Normally I would just marinade the raw ribs for a couple of hours then put them in a roasting tin, cover with tin foil and slow roast but I found that I had rather inconveniently ran out of tin foil (I will never learn) so used this method instead.

Ingredients:

  • Pork ribs
  • Poaching liquor (same as the fried chicken wings)
  • homemade tomato pizza sauce (you could use ketchup jazzed up with some tomato puree, garlic and onion powders and celery salt though for a shortcut)
  • 2 tsp blitzed Lapsang Souchong (must be a good quality really smoky one)
  • 1 tblsp Laissez Chef spice blend
  • 1 big heaped tblsp treacle

Throw your ribs into a pot of simmering liquor until just cooked through then remove, pat dry then coat in your marinade and leave for a couple of hours (you could cook them straight away but its nicer if they have had time to soak up all the lovely marinade).

Ribs marinading away

When you are ready just put them in a roasting tin, pour over any excess marinade and roast on high for about 20 minutes or until they are nice and caramelised on the outside.

sweet, smoky pork ribs

They turned out to be my favourite homemade ribs to date. They kicked serious meat filth ass and they will be without a doubt making many more appearances over the summer, and if I get my ass into gear and clean out the BBQ then I reckon they will be even better!

All kinds of filthy goodness

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Spicy fried chicken wings

I had intended to make this recipe with chicken feet, I used to love them when I lived in Hong Kong but have never tried them over here.  I asked Paul, my Meat Man if he could save me the feet from his lovely free range roosters when he killed on Wednesday.  Turns out though that free range chicken feet are far too mucky to use really, he said they were just way too nasty as his birds, despite having all that lovely space to run around in always choose to go and play in the muck heap. “Unfortunately you need feet from chickens kept inside all the time” he said, not my thing ( and my 3 ex-battery farm chickens would guilt me out too much) so he gave me a few kilos of chicken wings instead.

Now the humble wing happens to be my favourite bit of the chicken.  Glen always gets a very good deal when I roast the Sunday Rooster – I get the wings and a thigh and he gets the leg and breast. So many butchers just throw the wings in the bin, madness. When I worked at the butchery I saw so many beautiful plump free range wings being chucked in the bin before I could get to them, and they were beautiful Fosse Meadows chickens too, not cheap by any means!

Anyway I now had several kilos of wings for the freezer so I decided to experiment a bit.  I like my wings really crispy, almost burnt really, so decided to try deep frying them.  I played around with trying different coatings of egg, cornmeal and flours but the best way was just plain. This way the sweet flavours of the crispy skin were allowed to shine so I settled on poaching then frying and covering in a spicy sauce. It seems like a lot of work for fried chicken but I wanted to use the same method as I would have for the feet.

Ingredients:

  • chicken wings (I like to joint mine)

Poaching liquor

  • big pot water
  • salt (depending on how much water you use, but I used about 3tsp)
  • sugar (about 1 tablespoon)
  • a few star anise
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • a few peppercorns
  • fresh ginger (sliced)

Spicy Sauce

  • 2 heaped tablespoons Chinese chilli, ginger and garlic sauce (hot)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet thai chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1tablespoon Oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee is my favourite)
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese preserved black beans (squashed with a fork)
  • 100ml stock (I used jellied ham hock stock that I had leftover in the fridge but chicken would be perfect too)

Oil for frying.

Method:

  1. My wings were frozen. Put all you poaching ingredients in a big pot, add your wings and slowly bring to a simmer until just cooked through. Reserve a bit of the liquor for later. Drain the wings and plunge into a bowl of iced water.  The skin will start to separate from the meat and bubble up.  Drain, pat dry then arrange in a single layer on a tray and put in the fridge for an hour to dry out.
  2. Put all your sauce ingredients into a pan and heat gently, taste and add more heat or sweetness depending on what you fancy, if it seems too thick you can add some poaching liquor.
  3. Fry the wings in hot oil until crispy then drain on kitchen towel, put on your serving platter and drizzle with the sauce.

They were all kinds of wonderful and best served with cold beer and plenty of kitchen towel!