Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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Garlic-Spiked Honey and Anise Short Ribs

Talk about easy. Not only is this recipe quick, it’s stolen. I blatantly lifted the idea for garlic-spiked honey-and-anise ribs from British writer Nigel Slater, though I goosed his spice proportions for a more aggressive bite. Slater’s simple concept in The Kitchen Diaries—writing compellingly about his home-cooked meals over the course of a year—makes the book joy to read. Well, that and his obvious love of the topic. This is one of his cold weather dishes and, since San Diego doesn’t get cold as it’s understood elsewhere, it’s a year-round meal for us.

Once every few months, generally when I’m in a funk about something, I toss this together using nothing but ingredients from our home larder and a rack of ribs I’ve picked up from the butcher. The massive pan-Asian 99 Ranch Market serves nicely.

Slater uses less garlic, black pepper, and red pepper, but marinates the ribs and wouldn’t object to an overnight rest. I ditch the marinade and oopmph up the spices Your call. If you don’t have the star anise, though, do try to pick some up. It really makes the ribs zing and gives an exotic touch that suggests, oh, maybe some tiki drinks are in order with this. It makes such a difference, in fact, I keep a jar of the stuff on hand solely for this recipe.

The pork ribs should be cut across the bones, flanken-stlye, yielding several long strips of short ribs which should then be cut cross-ways into small bites of two-three bones each.

Garlic and Anise Short Ribs

1 rack of pork ribs, cut flanken-style (about 4lbs/1.8 kilos)
7 Tbl Honey (orange blossom)
4 Tbl Oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand)
6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbl Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes)
5 Star anise (whole)
1 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
½ tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C

In a 9”x13” Pyrex dish, mix the honey through sea salt.

Rinse and pat dry the strips of ribs. If you like, you may remove the membrane along the back, bony side. Cut between every second or third rib to make small bite-sized portions. Using a spoon or spatula, mix the ribs and sticky sauce together. Roast for about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Slater recommends serving these over rice with pan drippings. I’ll often throw in some steamed broccoli and swap out Vietnamese rice noodles (bun) for the rice. Either way, break out the napkins: this one’s going to be messy.

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