ribs from another world

Swedish pork ribs are different. They come with a four-inch layer of meat-streaked blubber un-firmly attached, and are pretty difficult to treat in the kitchen. Here are the choices:

– You cut off the offending layer and treat the ribs as ribs. Use the fat and the meat for sausages.

– You do a Chinese slow pot roast with star anise, garlic, soy sauce and spring onions. This will have to be a heck of a slow pot roast, or you’ll end up with layers of salty, tough meat embedded in sweet wobbly matter that carries a faint taste of anise. If you manage to summon the patience to cook the ribs all the way through (three hours…four hours??), discard as much of the accumulated fat as possible, rescue the heavenly sauce, but take care to have the Vodka chilled nevertheless – you will need it.

– You make several deep cuts in the meat parallel to the ribs and oven-roast – or grill – the whole combo, with the objective of letting the fat cure or tenderize the meat, or at least getting it to dissolve and vanish. This is, however, not going to happen:

One Summer day when my kids were here to visit, Robin made a fantastic red tomato-y and spicy rib rub, took a huge chunk of Swedish ribs, made the magic cuts, thoroughly applied the magic rub, created two beautiful piles of glowing coals on each side of the grill, dumped the meat in the middle of the rack and closed the lid.

Then we waited. We tended the coals; we half closed, half opened the valves; and closed them again. Took a beer. Waited some more. Attempts to pierce the meat with the fork would soon make layers slither sideways while staying, in themselves, impenetrable. The smell, on the other side, was irresistible. Eventually our growling stomachs brought the rational part of our day to an abrupt end and we retrieved our chunk of Steaming Something.

But what a transformation had taken place! The meat had assumed a vivid and aggressive dark red, turning into a sinister blackish finish around the edges. It looked like volcano-cooked vulture and tasted like Penne con Alligator, spiky, very difficult to conquer and with an overpowering note of garlic and triple-concentrated tomato. Disregarding the still undissolved fat that winked at us with jaundiced layers, there was only a marginal difference between meat consistency and bone consistency. I always wondered what Orc meat would be like – well, here it was. We kept hacking and laughing for most of the evening.

Apart from its general unruliness, the experience was, in fact, pleasantly exotic. Since that time, I nevertheless go for the first of my alternatives if I can’t get normal Old School ribs. If we once have a Fantasy party, we’ll perhaps have another go at Ribs from Mordor.

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