Christmas Eve – Smoky American Style Ribs and Christmas Slaw
A food blog would be impotent without pushing the boat out over Christmas. Thankfully there are not too many problems for this blogger to dandy a few lines of Christmas cheer on this day. Ironically, I wish I could describe the arguments rather than the food because in a curious kind of way at Christmas time food and arguments tend to go hand in hand, at least with my family of misfits, desperados and dissidents. I am probably the biggest champion and perpetrator of the aforementioned traits. So at Christmas I don’t match my food with wines, I match my food with minds.
Without question, a three part mockumentry style television show could be written about our Christmas parties which would entertain not only Australian viewers but reach back to the mother land in Europe where all this collision culture derives. Post war Europe for my first Dad and his family, who moved out of necessity in the late forties, and the rest of the Mafia arriving in the mid to late sixties. This must have been like a 1960s version of Nick Cave’s savage movie “The Proposition” crossed with Donald Pleasance in “Wake in Fright” for the rest of the Dutch Mafia. I do genuinely and affectionately believe they are my family. I do love them all.
Anyway, I am first gen Australian as are most of the Dutch Mafia. We definitely outnumber the originals. We have numerous second gens in the group now which will certainly help the cause. What we have in common, probably more than most families (therefore it works), is Dutch parents. The common ground is vast, especially if you add a lot of mayonnaise. We put mayonnaise on everything. Tarantino wrote it into his script for John Travolta in Pulp Fiction – ‘if you’re Dutch the joke gets lost, it’s more an affirmation’. The rest of this paragraph will be testimony in the Christmas Day post.
Back to Christmas Eve. Our Christmas Eve is the equivalent of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ on Christmas Day. Short of pouring beer on our chests to facilitate the tanning process, only because of the fact it is night time, we push the boat out. Opa (dutch for Pop or Grandad), my second Dad, is an awesome cook and a true blue Aussie . Tradition normally starts with a flight from Perth to Melbourne arriving on the 23rd December and then heading off to the Queen Victoria Markets the following morning.
Some things never change and thankfully the market is exactly the same as I remember it. We decide to do some smoky spare ribs for the eve. After shopping we get the obligatory Bratwurst from the Bratty shop which thankfully also never changes. They do however offer more condiments but I settle on the usual – mustard and sour kraut. The Vic Markets are still the thing I miss the most from moving to Perth.
Back at the family home we marinate the ribs and kick back to wait for my sister and nephew to arrive from Sydney. Prosecco, which is light and sparkling, has become the new beverage of choice and is now what I drink between drinks.
Here is the recipe based on a marinade from the recipe book Jamie at Home. It’s delicious and a base marinade I normally push in different directions. The slaw on the other hand is me mixing it up with color and flavour.
Smoky American Style Ribs with Christmas Slaw
2 kg American style Ribs (0.5kg a person)
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
sea salt and pepper
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch thyme
zest and juice of one orange
1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
4 heaped teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
150ml tomato ketchup
8 tablespoons olive oil
10 bay leaves
1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots julienned
2 spring onion julienned
coriander, mint, Thai basil
6 tablespoons sunflower oil
juice of one lime
splash of fish sauce to taste
two birds eye chillies
Preheat the oven to 180C and fire up the BBQ 40 minutes before serving to get it good and bloody hot.
In a mortar and pestle pound the spices with the salt and pepper until a fine powder, add thyme and rosemary leaves picked and chopped, then pound the hell out of it. Add orange zest and garlic, also finely chopped. Continue to pound like you mean it. Add all the liquids and paprika and mix through with a whisk. NOW smear it all over the ribs, massaging it into the meat with your hands. Think every crack and wrinkle.
Stick the ribs into a baking tray and cover tightly with foil. Pop it into the oven and drop the temperature to 160C. Let it bake until its falling off the bone, about 2 hours.
To make the slaw squeeze the lime into a bowl, cut the chillies in half and steep in the lime. In another bowl, combine the other ingredients and whisk until combined. After 30 minutes combine lime juice with or without the chillies. If you are adding chillies chop very finely. If you’re a bloke, at this stage don’t touch your balls, you will know about it. Ladies, same advice omit the balls.
To complete the smoky ribs, cut into 2-3 rib portions then pop onto the grill part of the BBQ. Using the leftover rosemary as a basting brush, continuously baste the porky goodness with the marinade and pan juices from the baking tray, CONTINUOUSLY! Once charred, ready to eat.