I strongly believe there are some foods which are just not designed for public consumption. Wraps, a Mars ice cream and maybe a sandwich (maybe) can all be consumed in public. Heck eat it on public transport if you like, I don’t care. Baguettes and hummus (yes I’m looking at you lady on the Glasgow tube on Saturday afternoon circa summer 2013), burgers, kebabs and most importantly – ribs – are all firmly in the eat-them-at-home-camp.
And thats ok by me. Messy finger lickin TV food is right up my alley. This is food for evenings in front of the telly in your PJs. Food you eat with your hands, where you make as much mess as you please and where gnawing on the bones is de rigueur.
Ribs ‘n’ Corn
These ribs are a fusion of BBQ and Chinese flavours, which I’ve adapted from Jamie Olver and Nigella Lawson recipes. On paper the flavours sound odd, but trust me, it works. The ribs need marinading overnight but don’t let this fool you. These literally go from fridge to oven to mouth with no effort all. Serve them piled high with hot buttered corn on the cob for the ultimate TV dinner, and something worthwhile staying at home for.
Serves 2 but double or triple the quantities to serve more.
Start the night before by preparing the marinade for the ribs. Measure out the fennel seeds, thyme, peppercorns, chilli flakes and salt into a pestle and mortar. Grind until you have a fine powder. If you don’t have a pestle & mortar use an electric grinder or buy ground spices.
Once ground, add the paprika and Chinese five spice and mix to combine. Set aside.
Lay the ribs out into a shallow roasting dish and evenly scatter the ground spices over the top. Chuck the star anise, garlic cloves (peeled) cinamon stick and bay leaves into the dish. In a jug, mix together: white wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and orange juice and pour over the ribs.
Make sure all the ribs are coated and covered in the marinade. Cover with cling film and chill overnight.
The following day, remove the ribs from the fridge approx. 1hour before you want to cook. Heat the oven to 160C. Remove the cling film, cover the dish in tin foil and cook for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the corn.
Take a large piece of tin foil (approx 60cm) and fold it in half. Place the corn side by side on 1 half of the foil. Add the butter, herbs, garlic and salt & pepper. Fold the tin foil in half again to cover the corn. Then fold up 3 of the edges to turn it into a package.
Pour the wine/vermouth/water (whichever you’re using) into the tin foil package then seal by folding up the final edge. Fold up the corners to stop it leaking when cooking.
You should now have a sealed package of corn ready to steam in garlicky buttery juices. Cook in the oven for 45-50 mins.
Once the ribs have had their 1 hour cooking time, remove the dish from the oven & drain off the juices.
Drizzle the Scotch whisky syrup (or maple syrup) over the ribs and put back in the oven.
Increase the temperature to 200C and roast the ribs until burnished brown (approx 15-20mins). Make sure you keep an eye on them to stop them burning.
When the ribs are ready, transfer to a warmed plate.
Carefully pierce open the corn package. Serve the corn on the warmed plate with the buttery juices poured over the top.
Leave to stand for 5 mins before diving in.
I prefer to serve the ribs and corn on their own as an easy make-ahead TV dinner. You can bulk this meal out and create a mini buffet for friends with:
- Potato Salad
- Green salad
- Potato wedges
- Tortilla chips
Serve it all up onto a large table, add some beers and napkins, stock up the bathroom with dental floss and stick the rugby on. Just make sure its a group of friends you don’t mind getting finger lickin messy with.