Sweet, Sticky & Lovely
Even if you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I hope today is going well for you. Over here, we love today, mostly because of this guy (from last year-what a little chubs!). I swear, ever since he came along, we’re positively overflowing with love chez English, all the time. It’s true. If I was friendly before, watch out now. If I would have just given a stranger a compliment before having Huxley, now I’ll hug them, too. Babies have a way of bringing out the love in us all.
To honor this festive occasion, we headed out to local barbeque powerhouse (and Obama haunt) 12 Bones Smokehouse. I’d been there several times previously, but never for any pork since, until not that long ago, I didn’t dine on swine. Oh. Boy. I had the Blueberry Chipotle ribs (the customer favorite), with a side of buttery mashed sweet potatoes and some transcendent collard greens served alongside their spot-on cornbread. Hubs went for the brown sugar dry rub (the staff favorite), with a side of smoked potato salad and some corn pudding.
Huxley, a true southerner, was an instant fan of all of it. He smiled at strangers (he’s my son, after all!!!), gobbled up his food with abandon and was so ecstatic, in fact, that he started head-banging in his high chair and promply mashed his left temple into the corner of the table. I scooped him up, went outside to kiss the injury, let his sobs bounce off the river outdoors, and then returned to nibble some more. 12 Bones knows what they’re doing, that’s for sure. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re ever in the area. Be aware, they’re incredibly popular and a line begins to form, running out the door, shortly after they open each day.
I’ve gotten into ribs at home, too. The other night, Hubs whipped up the Sorghum Roasted Pork Ribs and Fennel & Citrus Slaw pictured above. We’ve recently discovered a local sorghum supplier, Doubletree Farm (they’re a draft horse operation!), and have been experimenting with it in a number of dishes. Sorghum, a grass species, used to be the primary sweetener used in this area before the sugarcane industry pushed farmers out of business. I’ll share the recipes we’ve created with you in the next few weeks.
Today, though, is all about ribs. Because, really, what says “love” better than messy, unctuous meals best eaten with your hands (and a mound of cloth napkins at the ready)? If you’re not into swine, though, give the slaw a go. A cold weather crop, fennel is crunchy and sweet, and, paired with citrus and ponzu, provides a bright, zippy counterpoint to these dreary winter days.
Sorghum Roasted Pork Ribs
-1 rack of pork ribs
-A couple pinches of salt for the ribs
-Two 12-ounce bottles of beer (any brand and variety)
-1 cup ketchup
-1/4 cup sorghum
-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
-2 tablespoons prepared brown mustard
-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-A few shakes of hot sauce, to taste
-2 teaspoons granulated garlic
-1 teaspoons smoked paprika
-1 teaspoons salt (for the sauce)
-1 teaspoons ground allspice
-1 teaspoons ground coriander
-1 teaspoons ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-A few grinds of black pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 330 degrees F.
2) Sprinkle a pinch of salt on both sides of the ribs.
3) Mix all of the ingredients except the ribs and the beer in a large mixing bowl.
4) Put the ribs on a rack in a roasting pan, and brush both sides with the sauce (you’ll have sauce left over; this will be used to both baste the ribs several times and for dipping once cooked).
5) Pour one bottle of beer into the bottom of the roasting pan.
6) Roast for one hour, adding a little beer to the pan every 20 minutes or so.
7) Remove from the oven, turn the ribs over and baste the top side with the sauce again.
8) Return the ribs to the oven, and cook for another hour, adding beer every 20 minutes or so.
9) Remove from the oven again, turn over, and baste the top again.
10) Return to the oven, add some more beer to the pan, and cook for another half hour.
11) Remove from the oven, plate, and let them rest for several minutes.
12) Serve with any remaining sauce on the side.
Ponzu Citrus Fennel Slaw
-1 fennel bulb (with fronds)
-1/4 cup ponzu sauce
-Zest of one orange
-3 tablespoons orange juice
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-2 tablespoons oil (olive or sesame)
-1-2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste
-A few grinds of pepper
1) Shave the bulb and stalks of the fennel plant into small, thin pieces.
2) Chop the fennel fronds into little bits.
3) Cut the carrot into very thin strips, then cut those strips about an inch long.
4) Toss with the rest of the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
5) Let the slaw sit for at least an hour, tossing occasionally.