Growing up, it wasn’t Halloween without ribs. Whether that is because of the slightly gory sight of carving up your own rack of ribs at the table, or the fact that they are simply really tasty, I d not know; however ever since I have tried to continue the tradition. And as students throwing Halloween parties, we need something everyone can tuck into which is quick and easy to cook.
Before we move onto the ribs themselves, in terms of other Halloween food, of course there are pumpkins. Carve off the top and then scoop up all the flesh on the inside, separating the seeds. You can roast the pumpkin flesh, stir it into a risotto, or, my favourite, make a smoky pumpkin soup.
For this, sweat the pumpkin with garlic, onion, and a teaspoon of cumin and smoked paprika. When it is soft, add stock (chicken, vegetable…your choice) and blend with a stick blender. Simmer for 10 minutes, season and serve!
For a dessert, make a chocolate ganache (bring 300ml of double cream to the boil, then pour over 200g of broken up chocolate pieces. Stir to combine), and then sit it in the fridge in little glasses. Cover with a chocolate soil – simply by bashing up biscuits – to make your graveyard, and then go crazy with decorating. For example, you could make marshmallow ghosts or biscuit tombstones.
Back to the ribs. Now, this recipe is not the recipe for the best ribs you’ll ever taste. For that you would need 5 hours in a low oven and 30 minutes on a barbeque. On the other hand, these ribs are quick, covered in a sticky sauce and totally delectable.
Start with the meat. I’ve gone for individual ribs, as they are the quickest to cook. However, if you have up to 3 hours to wait for them to cook, then get them as one rack from the butcher. You will need about ½-3/4 a rack per person. Rub them with salt and pepper, and then place in an oven tray lined with foil. Drizzle over: ketchup (a big squirt), barbeque sauce (slightly smaller squirt), olive oil (glug), smoked paprika (an even shaking), half a mug of chicken stock (or water), chilli sauce (as much as you can handle) and cumin (a small teaspoon). Toss them to coat evenly.
If you are going with individual ribs, place in a hot oven (200 degrees) with the foil wrapped up to enclose them in a parcel. This will allow them to steam. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Then unwrap the foil and pour off the excess sauce into a saucepan. Toss them again and place in the oven at 210 degrees for 15 minutes so that they glaze and go sticky. Make sure the meat is properly cooked all the way through. Meanwhile reduce the sauce you drained on a high heat until it also becomes really sticky and unctuous.
If you are using a whole rack, then do the exact same but cook at 150 degrees for 2 hours 30 minutes, turning up the oven to its hottest setting for 15 minutes of glazing at the end! Serve on a big platter or chopping board, with the sauce drizzled over the top, and some in a pot for dipping. The classic side dish is slaw, which you can make yourself with white cabbage, carrot, onion and mayonnaise. I like serving this with sweet potato or pumpkin wedges, where you roast the wedges in the oven for 30-40minutes.
This week’s Chef Tips
On the theme of ribs, they do not have to be used just for an American-style treat. They make amazing stews; simply cook with onion, chopped tomatoes and stock for 2 hours on a low heat. Serve with pasta or potatoes.
Or alternatively, cook exactly as above but shred the meat off the bone. Stir it into the sauce and make delicious rib sandwiches!
Image Credit: Miles Gehm