Tag Archives: slow-cooking

Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs (serves 6-8)

This past weekend was a hectic one to say the least and I had to be smart about what to cook. The best kinds of dishes to cook when you have guests and are on the go are ones that demand little time to prepare, slow cooking and are hearty enough to keep everyone happy for hours.

This dish most certainly fit all the criteria and was more delicious than I could have imagined.

This Weekend: Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs

This Weekend: Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs

I implore you to add this to your list of ways to cook my favorite kind of pig: Baby-Back ribs!

_____________________________________________

You will need:

4 tbs olive oil

2 racks baby-back ribs, cut into 2 to 3 rib pieces, seasoned lightly with sea-salt and black pepper.

1 large (not huge) Vidalia onion

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup roughly chopped flat-leafed parsley leaves

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (click here if you don’t know what this is)

1 tbs adobo sauce (use 2 tbs if you want more smokey heat)

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes)

1 tsp sea-salt (if using a fine-grained salt, start of with a 1/2 tsp)

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups chicken broth OR 1 good quality bouillon cube (Rapunzel) and 4 cups of water)

Equipment: you will need a very large casserole with lid for this dish.

* I served this with basmati rice but you can serve with a pasta, like spaghetti*

Method:

Preheat oven 400*

1 – Sear the prepared ribs (see ingredients list instructions) in batches on high heat in large saute pan until browned on both sides. You will need to add more oil as you go. Transfer to a big casserole (with lid) that can be put into the oven.

sear ribs

sear ribs

2 – turn heat down to medium and add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the chopped chipotle peppers, adobo sauce and parsley.

saute onions, add seasonings

saute onions, add seasonings

3 – Add the tomato puree, broth (or water and bouillon cube) and salt and bring mixture to a boil.

add liquids

Add liquids

4 – Pour this mixture into the casserole over the ribs and place in the oven for 1  1/4 hours. Remove from oven and check meat by piercing with a sharp knife. If it is very tender you can remove it from the oven. Let it sit covered for about 10 minutes before serving. Taste the sauce for additional seasoning. Also, if the sauce is very thick you can add a little more water to thin it out to your liking.

assemble dish and cook

Assemble dish and cook

Serve each person 2 or 3 rib sections with whatever you like, (suggestions below). You can also have some cayenne pepper flakes on the table for those of you who like more heat. A sprinkle of some flat-leafed parsley would not go astray either!

Serve alone or with rice, pasta or bread

Serve alone or with rice, pasta or bread

The meat can also be removed from the ribs and returned to the sauce which makes it easier to eat, especially if you serve it with a long pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle.

Michaelmas Feast (Slow-Cooked Duck with Braised Winter Squash) Serves 4

It is only today I am getting around to writing about our wonderful dinner this past Thursday (September 29th). It was the feast day of Michaelmas (Michael the archangel) and the reason I wanted to celebrate this particular feast day is because this day was very significant in times past.

Duck for Michaelmas

As well as it heralding the end of harvest, and a time when farmers settled their debts, and assessed what provisions they needed to get them through the winter, I have another reason to remember this feast day.

There is a great story of how on this day the Archangel hurled the devil out of heaven and he landed on a thorny blackberry bush. It was a painful experience and it is said that forever more he comes back to earth and spits on the blackberry fruit. As a result blackberries are never eaten again until next season.

Michaelmas Feast; our dinner

I remember this because one day I brought home a big apron full of blackberries to my mother and she told ne to throw them away for fear of being tainted by the devil and his vile spit! I was petrified to eat them after that. It is a ritual I still adhere to, (just in case).

Lovely purple asters

The official flower of the holiday is the hardy little aster, and so I went out to buy them especially. I truly wanted to get into the spirit and maybe having these flowers as well as cooking a game-y bird would jolt me back to the past where life was certainly simpler.

In very olden days (even before my time), a big grey goose was the traditional dinner. I was not about to try to find one of those, and settled for what I happen to have by sheer luck in the freezer; a 4 lb duck!

Winter squash - perfect pairing with the duck

I also wanted to use a vegetable that had autumn written all over it, and so I used the lovely squash I received in my share box from the local Good Work Farm.

It was a dish that I ad-libbed as I went, and it was more than perfect. I usually roast a duck with mixed results. It behaves so differently to chicken, because the meat is tougher, and the fat content is higher.

I decided to slow-cook it in a covered casserole in a mixture of red wine, broth and basic locally grown veggies (celery, onion, garlic, thyme), and, it was so tender I wished I had a whole duck for myself. I will definitely be cooking it this way next year, and, possibly make a big blackberry pie so as not to waste the last of these gorgeous berries.

A memorable Michaelmas indeed.

_________________________________

You will need: 1 whole duck (I used 4 lbs), 1 onion, diced, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 2 celery ribs, including leaves, sliced, 8 thyme sprigs, 1 cup red wine, 1 1/2 cups chicken or veggie broth, 1/2 tsp sea-salt, several grinds of pepper,

For Squash dish; you will need: 2 winter squash, peeled, scooped & diced, 1 small onion (sweet if you have it), 2 cups chicken broth, 2 tbs rice wine, 1 tbs honey, 1 tsp chopped rosemary, 1/2 tsp salt, several grinds peppers, 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil.

Serving suggestions: basmati rice, boiled & buttered potatoes, penne or shell pasta, green salad.

Preheat oven 325*

duck ready for the oven

1 – Trim extra skin from duck and randomly pierce the skin with a sharp knife. Place onion, celery, garlic, thyme, red wine, salt, pepper, and broth into a heavy casserole dish. Place the duck into the center of the pot and cover with a tight, heavy lid. Cook for 2 hours.

2 – Prep the squash and combine the rest of the ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl.

saute onions, add squash

3 – Put saute pan on medium to low heat and add the oil. When it is warm, add the onions and cook for 7 minutes. Add the squash, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

add liquid, and cook

4 – Add the liquid and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until squash is soft (about 30 minutes or so). The liquid will disappear into the squash, so don’t panic. If it gets dry before the squash is cooked, add a little liquid.

5 – When duck is done, take casserole out of oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes to cool. Remove duck to a board and take all the meat from the bones. (discard the skin, or render it down for duck fat).

add duck and liquid to squash

6 – Toss the duck and the duck cooking liquid into the squash and heat everything up.

You can also heat it up with a few slices of cayenne peppers

Serve as is, with crusty bread, or a baguette, or, with serving suggestions above. If making potatoes or pasta, time to be ready when the duck has been shredded.