It was sofabrother’s birthday on Tuesday – and in keeping with tradition (as the kids call it) we would be having dinner with our nephew and nieces. And there would be presents and singing and cake and candles. Another tradition is the birthday person gets to choose what they want to eat.
sofabrother responded: “chicken livers in a creamy marsala sauce” – which I took to be a finger in the air at me: given that he knows I would hate everything about the dish: the ingredients, the prep, the combination. Unsure why he would feel compelled to be smart-ass: not something I would do to someone who was about to cook for me – but there you are. I smiled serenely and nodded. Then called the children who screamed and gagged – and ordered me to tell sofabrother he better reconsider or they weren’t coming. “Wait and see” said Jasper, “he’s going to ask for spare ribs”.
When he did come back for the ribs, sofabrother also requested coleslaw and schlapp chips. These are a South African version of pommes frites. Soft fried, thick cut potato chips – doused liberally with vinegar, slathered with tomato sauce and sprinkled generously with salt. In the olden days (as the kids call our past) we would buy them wrapped in white paper – now they come in those bloody awful styrofoam boxes that will lurk in landfills until the end of time.
Nice and easy dinner prep-wise for me – as I literally throw the braising sauce together with what I have in the fridge. And I opted for store bought chips, coleslaw and chocolate cake. The crew fell on the meal like starving pirates – leaving only a couple of ribs to be polished off the next morning, on ciabatta, for breakfast. Jack was happy too – snacking on bits fed to him illegally by the kids. I am looking out for his weight at the moment as he has grown a bit tubby. But, hey, he was a guest at the party too.
I use pork as I don’t like the taste of beef, and buy the ribs in packs at our local supermarket. But I am sure that beef would work just as well. The ribs must be chunky – with a fair amount of fat mixed through the meat. This is essential for a successful braise.
The fat needs to be separated from the ribs at the end, and poured away. A fat separator is perfect for this – or pour the braise juice out and let it stand for a while – then spoon the fat off. They take about 2.5hours to cook down to a falling-off-the bone-gooey mess. Best eaten with fingers … so serve with plenty of paper serviettes. Sing the song lustily and with rude lyrics. And leave some space for birthday cake.
Pork Spare Ribs Braised in Coca-Cola
1.5kg/2 pounds bone-in country-style pork ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
good size knuckle of ginger, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons tomato sauce or paste
2 bay leaves
1 can coca cola – original version
good squirt of thick honey
2 tablespoons of soya sauce
1 cup of fresh squeezed tart orange juice or 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Handfull of fresh coriander
(Images copyright campariandsofa)