Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pork choc ribs

Photo by Steve Shanahan

First published Canberra Times 15 January 2014
The heat is on, so fire up the barbeque, get the picnic rug out and throw those ribs on the grill. We’ve had a fairly abstemious Christmas this year, in terms of our chocolate indulgence, so in order to keep the levels up, I turn to rubbing my meat in it. 

This newfound fascination I have for pork and chocolate really is very seductive and moreish, and the two make a heavenly match. The preparation is a touchy feely process of rubbing the spice mixture in, so be prepared to get down and dirty with your ribs.

I’m fascinated by the Mexican mole influence of bitter chocolate used in savoury dishes. With the addition of some basic cupboard spices, the ribs turn from mediocre, to tender, melt in the mouth perfection.

After trying a number of different chocolate and spice marinade combinations, I settle on vanilla, spice and a hint of chilli.

If you are a real chocoholic and you want the big flavour, try marinating your ribs in the chocolate rub for 48 hours in the refrigerator. I used Rich Dark Pure Dutch Cocoa that can be bought from Essential Ingredient.

2 racks of pork ribs
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
½ cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp sea salt
1 clove garlic chopped finely
1 tbsp mustard powder
2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp vanilla paste

Mix all of the ingredients except the ribs together in a bowl. With clean hands rub the ribs generously with the spice mixture. If you prefer you can add a little olive oil to the mix to make it stick to the ribs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about an hour prior to cooking, this will allow them to cook quicker and reduce burning the outside.

Using a hooded barbeque, place ribs over a medium heat grill plate, close hood and roast for about thirty minutes. Open lid and increase temperature of barbeque and roast for about another ten minutes. Watch that they don’t burn. Remove ribs from heat and leave to rest for ten minutes.

If cooking the ribs in an oven, preheat the oven to 180C and place ribs in a shallow baking pan, cooking for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 200C and return ribs to a wire rack over a baking tray. Bake for an additional ten minutes or until the ribs are browned. To serve, cut ribs into individual bones and serve with a salad.