Saturday 18 January 2020

Come to mine for the match - recipes for blokes

Dead easy pork ribs with palm sugar glaze
Dead easy pork ribs with palm sugar glaze
Grilled skirt steak and horseradish sandwich
Warm marinated olives with caramelised onion compte
Recipes taken from Brendan Collins', Cooking Blokes + Artichokes. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Jean Cazals. Priced at £19.99

Delicious game-day dishes to please the lads.


Chinese five-spice powder is one of my all-time favourite seasonings, and I encourage you to get very friendly with it. It takes its name not from the number of ingredients, but the way this single spice mix hits on all five principal tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami). The flavour is warm and sweet, and I find that it acts like a bridge between salt and the heat of chillies, giving these ribs a really round, warm deliciousness.  It's a wonderful, versatile seasoning to add to pork, beef or duck. Chinese five-spice powder also lends meat a handsome reddish tone - like that nice red bark that you get when you put meat in a smoker - which is a big improvement over the unappetising grey tinge that ribs can take on when they're cooked in the oven. Serves 6.


2 racks of pork spare ribs cut St Louis-style by your butcher

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

240ml palm-sugar caramel (see below)

For the palm-sugar caramel: 400g palm sugar

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

8 tbsp water

200g thinly sliced shallots (from 4-6 large shallots)

1 dried hot red chilli, such as chilli de árbol

3 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

120ml Thai fish sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 110°C/ gas mark ¼.

2. Season your ribs on both sides very simply with salt and pepper, and dust with the Chinese five-spice powder.

3. Place the ribs meat-side down in a pair of aluminium or glass baking dishes. Cover the dishes with foil and roast the meat for 4 hours.

4. Drain off the drippings. Flip the ribs over using two spatulas (and an extra pair of hands, if you have them) so the meat side is now up. Be gentle, as they may be so tender, they start falling apart. Paint a layer of palm sugar caramel on the ribs and return them to the oven uncovered for a further 20-30 minutes. Serve straight out of the oven.

To make the palm-sugar caramel:

1. In a heavy-based medium saucepan set over a medium heat, combine the palm sugar, lemon juice and 4 tbsp water and bring the mixture to the boil. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals that have stuck to the side of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer undisturbed until it begins to reach a medium amber colour, about 20 minutes (watch the pan carefully, because caramel can go from pale to burnt in a matter of seconds).

2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the shallots, chilli, star anise, cinnamon and black pepper. Carefully whisk in the fish sauce and another 4 tbsp water - the caramel will seize up and spit. Return the pan to a medium heat and stir it until the caramel is smooth and dissolved. Pour it into a heatproof bowl and let it cool completely. Remove the chilli, star anise and cinnamon stick and use while warm.


Warm marinated olives with caramelised onion compte

Great olives, ripened to perfection, cleaned of all their bitterness, and lovingly cured are now readily available at everyday supermarkets. You can put your own flavour stamp on them with this quick marinade. They'll keep absolutely forever in the fridge and can be warmed in a matter of a few minutes for a no-hassle nibble.


For the caramelised onion compote: 120ml extra-virgin olive oil

900g white onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp brown sugar

½ bottle stout or porter beer

2 tbsp beef stock

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Coarse sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

For the marinated olives: 4 tbsp olive oil (preferably Italian, for spiciness)

3 tbsp caramelised onion compote (see above)

Peel of ½ lemon, pith removed

Peel of ½ lime, pith removed

Peel of ½ orange, pith removed

35g smoked almonds

30g Fresno or other mild red chillies, sliced as thinly as possible

1 sprig each rosemary, thyme, and savory (if you can find it; sage if not), finely chopped

450g of your favourite mixed olives (such as kalamata, picholine or castelvetrano)


1. To make the caramelised onion compote, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan set over a medium-high heat until it shimmers. Tip in the onions and brown sugar, stir to coat them with oil and spread them evenly in the pan. Reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until you smell the sugars releasing and the onions become soft and translucent, 30-45 minutes. 2. Chuck in all the liquids and cook until three quarters reduced, continuing to stir the onions regularly or else they'll burn. Season the mixture with a good grind of pepper and a teaspoon or two of salt, to taste. Remove the onions from the heat and let cool completely.

3. Load the onions into a sterilised jar and close tightly. The compote will keep in the fridge for around two weeks… if it lasts that long.

4. For the marinated olives: in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over a low heat to 35°C. It should feel about body temperature, but use a thermometer to check it if possible.

5. Add the caramelised onion compote, citrus peels, smoked almonds, chillies and herbs. Remove the oil from the heat and let the ingredients steep for 20 minutes. Add the olives and reheat it to 35°C. Strain off the oil and serve the olives warm. They can also be stored in the oil in the fridge for months.


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Grilled skirt steak and horseradish sandwich

Skirt steak is the ideal sandwich cut. It's cheap, fast and easy to cook, tender enough that you won't put your jaw out trying to bite through it and it has a rich, intense flavour of beef to it. It's also a naturally slim piece of meat, no more than 1.25cm thick and about 10cm wide, which makes it the perfect dimensions for laying a slab between two slices of bread. Adding the heat of horseradish, creamy mayo and peppery rocket rounds out the flavours perfectly. If you think you like roast beef sandwiches made with grey deli roast beef, just wait. You'll go nuts for this. Serves 2


For the skirt steak marinade: 120ml olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 tbsp Sprite or 7Up (the phosphoric acid will tenderise the meat to melt in the mouth)

Zest of ½ lemon

350g skirt steak

120ml skirt steak marinade (see above)

Coarse sea salt

2 slices ciabatta bread, about 15 × 10cm, sliced down the middle

30g unsalted butter, softened

75g mayonnaise

1½ tbsp horseradish (or more, to suit your taste)

2 handfuls of rocket

Freshly ground black pepper


1. To make the marinade, dump all the ingredients in a blender and blend until combined.

2. Trim any excess fat off the steak, rub it with the marinade, and place it in a ziplock bag or covered container in the refrigerator for at least 2 but no more than 8 hours; more than that and the meat will turn mushy when it cooks.

3. Fire up the barbecue and let it get hot, or place a grill pan or cast-iron pan over a high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the steak from the marinade, scrape off any excess herbs and garlic, season it liberally with salt, then grill the meat to your liking. Medium-rare will take about 1 minute per side.

4. Toast the bread if you want, or simply butter the bloody stuff. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and horseradish to your desired spiciness.

5. Build up your sandwich by slathering the horseradish mayo on the bottom slice of bread, then put down a bed of rocket, followed by your meat, a seasoning of black pepper and the top slice of bread.

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