Pork ribs are tasty when they’re hot and fresh off the bbq, especially when slathered with bbq sauce. But, on reheating, they always seem to fall flat taste-wise. So I decided to try to cook them in a way that would get more flavour INTO the meat instead of just on top.
A recent purchase of a St. Louis style cut strip of ribs seemed well suited to the experiment. I tasted my current jar of barbecue sauce and although it was ‘just right’ in terms of smokiness, sweetness and tang, it was missing a bit of the spicy back note that I was craving. So, I dressed it up with some chunky chipotle in adobo and ground cumin. I thought the flavour profile would also marry with the leftover Mexican rice (plain long grain rice cooked with a package of Sazon’s Arroz con Azafran) that I was going to serve with the ribs.
Pork Spare Ribs – serves 3-4 portions, 3 bones a piece
1 1/4 kg St. Louis style ribs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup French’s mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup barbecue sauce*
* Add 1 tbsp pureed chipotle in adobo and 1/8 tsp ground cumin to the barbecue sauce and place in the refrigerator to allow the flavours to marry until the next day.
Peel off the membrane on the underside of the ribs. Combine sugar and mustard and rub over the ribs. Place in bag and let marinade in the fridge for 2-3 hrs or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.
Place the strip of ribs onto a large sheet of aluminum foil, folding it up around the sides to form a shallow tray. Pour the vinegar over the top of the ribs. Cover the ribs with another large sheet of aluminum foil and seal all four sides tightly so the contents don’t leak during baking. Place the foil pouch onto a large baking sheet and bake for 1 hr 45 min to 2 hrs, or until the meat is tender enough to pull off the bone easily.
(If you don’t have time to let the ribs marinate overnight, combine the brown sugar, mustard and vinegar, and brush over the ribs, top and bottom, pouring the remainder over the ribs. Continue with baking instructions above.)
Open the foil, spread the barbecue sauce (reserve 2 tbsp) over the top, return to the oven and continue baking, uncovered, for another 20-25 min.
Cut into 3-4 bone portions and serve with your favourite sides and the reserved barbecue sauce.
As sides for pork ribs, I usually go with the traditional … baked beans and coleslaw.
By chance, I recently watched an episode of the cooking show, “You Gotta Eat Here” which featured a restaurant that topped their waffles in various ways, including one with pulled pork shoulder. And then I remembered that there was a savoury pancake with shredded cabbage in the batter … the Japanese “okonomiyaki’. If I made my pancake in a waffle maker, I would have a very tasty fusion dish.
The idea was brilliant, even if my first attempt was flawed. I was tired, hungry and impatient and when my wonky old waffle maker got hot, I neglected to brush it with oil before pouring in the batter. The waffle STUCK so badly that I needed to chip most of it out of the waffle maker. I shaped the chunks into a rough rectangle, put my ribs on top and dug in.
A chunk of tender rib dipped into some of the reserved bbq sauce, a bit of the waffle, some of the sweet baked beans and I was in heaven. I made a nicer waffle the next day for the post. Cause that’s just the kind of food blogger I am.
Waffle/Pancake Okonomiyaki Base – makes 1 waffle
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour *
1/8-1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp water or dashi broth
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vegetable oil **
3/4 cup cabbage, shredded (or bagged coleslaw mix)
2 stalks of green onion, green part only, slice into 1/4 inch rings
* For a southern/south-western pancake, use 2 tbsp all purpose flour and 2 tbsp finely ground cornmeal
** If sticking is not an issue in your waffle maker, omit the vegetable oil.
In a medium sized bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt, with a fork. Add the water, egg and vegetable oil and mix just until the flour is moistened. Avoid big lumps of flour but don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth. Add the shredded cabbage and green onions and fold through.
Add the mixture to a pre-heated waffle maker and cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions. Mine took 5 min to cook through.
I shot a picture of the waffle ‘naked’ but you might want to top it with the barbecue sauce, as in the traditional okonomiyaki.
Inside the shredded cabbage waffle
REVIEW: I’m iffy on how much MORE flavourful the leftover pork ribs were (they were ok) but the waffles were an unqualified success.