Things got off to a shaky start when the girl and I realised we wouldn’t be able to use actual boar ribs for this one because no-one in our Irish town sold them. The plan, then, would be to use that distant cousin of the wild boar, the affordable pig, and rely on human ingenuity to provide a boar-like vibe.
Enter the vegetables. We figured that without too much effort we could carve parsnips into tusks, make a snout out of mashed potato, use cherry tomatoes as furious eyeballs, and create believable hair by sprinkling our ribs with superfine slivers of onions that would (should? might?) become crisp and black in the oven.
So, Beer Basted Pork Ribs In A Vegetable Disguise, then. Nevermind. Here we go!
We went with Erdinger Dunkel because it was the most rich, dark beer we could find. You don’t just use beer in a beer baste, so you need something potent if you want to taste beer over the sugar, vinegar, mustard powder and all the other crap that goes in there.
With the baste complete and basted ribs in the oven, we move on to the veggies. It would probably be more authentic to cook the ribs on a barbecue instead of in the oven, but to quote Lermontov “We only have so much effort for this.”
The girlfriend made carving tusks from parsnips look easy. You know sometimes how-to guides have bits where you’re meant to ask an adult to help you? I recommend to that for this tusk bit you ask for help from someone who is generally competent.
Meanwhile, I was enduring the onionpocalypse.
My plan of getting thin slivers of onion by using a grater resulted in something approximate to teargas. I was crying like someone chopping onions in a cartoon, and the worst part was that after 30 seconds of frenzied, tear-streaked grating I lifted up the grater to find… nothing. The process of grating had, in fact, reduced the onion to nothing but moisture that had collected either in the air or in a pool on the chopping board. Grudgingly I picked up a heavy knife and approached things the hard way.
The mashed potato snout was comparatively uneventful, and with half an hour of cooking left on the ribs we lobbed the vegetables in there. THE GRIZZLY RESULT:
Monstrous, I know. I think this thing once chased me down a corridor in Silent Hill. We were going to learn a lot about food photography over the course of this project, but it doesn’t help that our first botched collection of photos were of the most gruesome recipe. Nevermind.
The real error of the night was that it turned out we hadn’t actually bought pork ribs. We’d bought bacon ribs, assuming they were the same thing. This mistake made itself plain when sat down and took our first greasy mouthfuls, only to find our defenseless tastebuds getting beaten up by salt. We’d cooked a salted meat in salty sauce and in the process created something that can only be described as both delicious and abusive.
As the girl pointed out, in creating something salty to the point of fieriness we were at least being true to the Fantasy/medieval era of the dish, so there’s that. To cook your very own (and not quite as salty) beery ribs, follow this adjusted recipe:
Beer Basted Boar Ribs recipe:
Creates enough ribs for 4, at £3 per person
About 1kg of ribs
One bottle of Beer
100ml of White Wine Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
For the horrible veggie face:
2 Tiny Tomatoes
2 Large Potatoes
1: Take a large saucepan and add one bottle of beer (minus a couple of swigs, if you like), five heaped tablespoons of sugar, your vinegar, and a teaspoon each of mustard powder, cumin and chilli powder. Get some salt and pepper in there too.
2: Bring the sauce to the boil, reduce heat, add ribs, cover pot and simmer for 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 175°C.
3: Remove the ribs from the sauce and place to one side. Take the lid off, turn the heat back up and boil the sauce until about half of it is gone. Turn on your kitchen extractor fan or open the window unless you want your whole house to start reeking of booze and vinegar.
4: Meanwhile, cut your potatoes into smaller pieces and get them boiling. Leave the skin on, unless you are crap and can’t deal with skin on your mash and don’t care if it’s healthier, tastes better and has a nicer texture. Slice up your onions, carve your parsnip tusks and brush the tusks with olive oil.
5: Place ribs in baking pan, bone side down, brush them with the reduced sauce, then pour the rest of the reduced sauce into the pan and put the pan in the oven for an hour.
6: Mash the boiled potatoes (add what you like to the mash- butter, milk, herbs, Worcestershire sauce) and shape into a snout.
7: With 45 minutes to go on the ribs sprinkle them with the onion slivers and put the parsnip tusks in there.
8: With 20 minutes to go, pop the snout and tomato eyes in there.
9: With 0 minutes to go, remove ribs and enjoy your fleshy dinner.