Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eat: Faux-Summer Family Dinner Party

Spring has been a long time in coming and I have been eager.

I have been so eager, if fact, to doff my wool coat and heavy sweaters that I decided a while back to call an end to winter and simply start dressing for spring.  I was done with winter and figured that this mind over matter trick might be my only means of survival.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself out to dinner with a friend in Boston's South End and realized, as I huddled against a bone-chilling wind in a thin cotton jacket, jeans and sling back heels, that though I might be done with winter, it is not done with me. 

I could have folded just then, but instead I decided to double down, and I spent the next day preparing for my family a faux-summer dinner party complete with ribs, slaw, corn bread and this delicious ice cream pie from The Pioneer Woman.

I adapted the rib recipe from Dorrie Greenspan's Around My French Table, which has beautiful photographs and very manageable recipes (and which makes me want to plan a vacation immediately).  The Simple Slaw recipe is my own, and, alas, despite big plans of trying homemade skillet cornbread, I was convinced by my wise husband not to bite off more than I could chew, so the cornbread was from a mix.

Spareribs with Apricot Glaze and Cola

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon group ginger
  • Salt and pepper
  • About three pounds of spareribs, rack cut in two to fit in roasting pan
  • 1 cup of Coca-Cola

Preheat the oven to 350.

Heat the preserves and orange juice together for about a minute in the microwave.  Let this cool a bit and then add the lemon juice.

Create a rub for the ribs by combining the dry ingredients in a small bowl and apply to the ribs.  Believe me, I hate handling meat so intimately, but these ribs are worth a moment's unpleasantness.

Next, place the ribs in the roasting pan.  I lined it with foil for easier clean-up.  I also started the process a couple of hours early so that I could give the ribs some time to marinate in the glaze before cooking, as suggested in the cookbook.

Brush the glaze all over the ribs.  If you are marinating, cover the pan and let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

When you are ready to cook the ribs, put a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, basting occasionally, then remove from the oven and brush with more of the glaze.  Add some more water to the pan before returning to the oven.

Bake for another 45 minutes, basting and glazing occasionally and adding water if the pan appears dry.

Remove from the oven and pour Coca-Cola all around the ribs and then return to the oven for another 30 minutes.  During this final half-hour you should baste frequently, about every 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow them to rest a bit before serving.

Simple Slaw

  • 1 bag of pre-packaged cole slaw mix
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the vinegar, oil and sugar in the bottom of a large bowl.

Add the cole slaw mix and toss to coat.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes or so.  I made mine as soon as I put the ribs in and let it sit on the counter for the whole two hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Before serving, re-toss the slaw and adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Unmoved by my attempts to invoke summer, the girls decided that the dinner party would be for their imaginary friend Mr. Dog and his love, Tiffany.  They decorated the dining room accordingly.

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