This week my Dad and I finished watching Houses of Cards, to which we had been completely addicted. As we followed the devious and underhanded exploits of Washington’s political elite, we were often teased by the sight of Frank Underwood tucking into the best ribs in DC at ‘Freddy’s BBQ joint’.
There is something about eating meat off the bone. Not only is the flavour and texture almost always superlative to boneless cuts – it’s messy and primal. Ribs in particular are a true comfort food for me, so after 26 episodes of enduring mouth-watering jealousy, I had to get in the kitchen.
Cooking ribs properly requires patience, but good things come to those who wait…
2 pork loin rib racks, skinned and trimmed
750ml of cloudy apple juice
1-2 white onions
A few sprigs of rosemary
A good quality barbecue sauce
For the spice rub:
4 teaspoons of paprika
4 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of chili powder
2 teaspoons of smoked rock salt
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
2 teaspoons of dried thyme
2 teaspoons of cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds
- Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs if the butcher hasn’t already. It gets really tough and keeps the flavours out. Use a blunt butter knife to create an opening, then use your fingers to pull the skin away from the meat.
- Cover the racks in apple juice and leave to soak for a few hours (I left mine overnight). The acidity helps break down the fats and makes the meat extra tender.
- Combine all the ingredients for the spice rub in a pestle & mortar.
- Remove the ribs from the liquid and gently pat dry. Rub the spice mix into the meat, ensuring a generous and even coating. Allow a couple hours for the flavours to soak in.
- Roughly chop the onion and the rosemary – enough to cover the bottom of your chosen roasting dish. Place the slabs on top of the chopped onion, add about a mugful of the apple juice and cover with foil. Slow roast at 100*C for 2 hours then remove the foil for the final 2 hours. Roasting the meat slowly prevents the juices from escaping and gives the rack that delicious ‘bark’ which BBQ competitors rave about.
- Once the timer goes, take the ribs out and turn the oven up to 200*C. Glaze the ribs in sauce and place back into the hot oven. You want the sauce to thicken and give a sticky coating, but not burn.
- Serve with salad, sauce and ‘slaw.