The sumptuous taste of beautifully cooked pork that melts in your mouth is something that invokes happiness on so many different levels. Every single flavor is both distinct and subtle. The aromas that fill the air make your mouth water just at the sheer anticipation of that first bite. You can’t help but close your eyes as your senses explode. So many great things from the humble pig.
Growing up in a country like Pakistan where pork is banned, I developed an intense appreciation for this beautiful, succulent meat. Bacon became a rebellious treat to be savoured. The scope of what you can do with pork is mind-boggling. Everything is an option, from slow cooking, smoking, curing, and stewing, to just making a sinfully-delicious curry. It allows your imagination to run wild and you can be as creative as you like.
As for me, I prefer simple recipes where the pork itself is the star. Meltingly juicy and delicious pork ribs, so tender the meat just falls off the bone. Serve with rich, buttery mashed potatoes and some lightly-sautéed vegetables, and you have a meal that will put a smile on anyone’s face.
Oven Roasted Pork Ribs
Serves four to five people (depending on the size of the rib racks).
2 pork rib racks (silver skin removed)
2 tablespoons chilli powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 135 degrees Celsius. Combine all your spices, the mustard and brown sugar. This should give you about one cup of dry spice rub for your pork ribs (this rub also works really well on chicken or even mixed into roast potatoes).
To prep your ribs, make sure you remove the silver skin membrane on the bone side of the ribs. If left on it inhibits flavour penetration and cooks into an unpleasant leathery skin on the ribs. It is very simple to remove. All you need to do is slide a table knife under the silver skin anywhere along the rack. If it resists in one spot then try another. Lift and loosen the skin with the knife until you can grab it with a paper towel then pull it off the ribs. The skin should peel away in one large sheet, but if it breaks, just use the knife to restart at another section.
Lay out two pieces of foil and place your rib rack on top. Rub your dry spice mixture onto the ribs being sure to cover both sides. Put two more pieces of foil on top of the ribs and fold the edges together to form a package. Put them onto a tray and bake at 135 degrees Celsius for 3 ½ to 4 hours.
By this point they should be tender and falling off the bone. Perfect to serve with buttery mashed potatoes.
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
3-4 large potatoes peeled
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
Put your potatoes on to boil in a large pot with enough water to cover them. I tend to chop my potatoes into small pieces, which allows them to soften faster when you boil them. It also makes it easier to mash.
Once they are soft, strain and put the potatoes back into the pot they were boiled in. This will keep everything nice and hot while you mash the potatoes. Add in the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg and then mash it all together. The texture is a personal preference. I prefer mine very smooth so I tend to pass it through a fine strainer to remove all the lumps. It is a purely optional step but makes for the silkiest mashed potatoes you will ever have.
Finally we come to my favorite part of any meal. Dessert!
Now this is the simplest dessert I have ever made and also the most popular. Sweet, moist and chewy on the inside with a delightful crisp exterior – and you just need three ingredients! I guarantee you will have everyone asking you how you made them and begging you for the recipe.
2 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup castor sugar
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Combine all your ingredients and mix thoroughly. Use a teaspoon to measure out small balls. Make sure to compact the macaroons well. It helps them to hold their shape better. I prefer to weigh out my macaroons at 15 grams each which gives me a very precise and exact baking time, as well as uniform results. Place them on a sil-pat or non-stick baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 13 minutes. Let them cool before removing from the baking sheet.
Good food to make even better memories with! Enjoy!
The Textured Table ~ by Chef Irene Fernandez
ISLAND LIFE MAGAZINE