"After a long marinade and a gentle cook, these ribs are sweet and sticky. I love to offset their richness with sharp, salty pickles." ~ Rebecca Seal.
Red Onion Pickle (makes 1, 400 g jar):
1 red onion, thinly sliced into moons
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
150 ml apple cider or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp fine salt
3 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp finely chopped fresh chilli
10 coriander seeds
5 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Piri Piri Sauce (makes 1, 400 g jar):
"This hot pepper sauce is hugely popular in Portugal and its former colonies Cape Verde, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and Goa, as well as in Britain, the US, Australia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It can be slathered onto chicken, sausages, fish or seafood before grilling or roasting, or stirred into marinades – you can even use it in place of hot sauce in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary. Chilli peppers were native to South America originally, but piri piri peppers have grown in Africa for centuries, probably travelling across the Atlantic with Portuguese traders and then cross-pollinating to create the tiny spicy chillies we have today. There's a bit of confusion about whether malegueta, piri piri chillies and African bird's eye chillies are all exactly the same thing, as often they are labelled interchangeably. Whatever the label says, these are small and pretty fierce, and only used once they turn from green to red. They are extremely hot, which is why I wear gloves to prepare them, and am scrupulous about cleaning up afterwards. (You really, really don't want to touch delicate skin or your eyes after handling one of these.) I always remove the seeds and ribs of each chilli, but true chilli heads may like to leave them in. The whisky might seem like a strange addition, but it is added for preservation purposes more than for flavour." ~ Rebecca Seal.
4 garlic cloves
4 Tbs white wine vinegar
2 large medium-hot red chilli peppers,
Seeds and ribs removed
2 piri piri, malagueta or African bird's eye chillies, seeds and ribs removed
2 sweet red (bell) peppers, halved, ribs and seeds removed
6 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp hot piri piri powder (optional)
2 Tbs whisky
Roasted Red Pepper Paste (makes 1, 400 g jar):
"Jars of this sit on every Portuguese pantry shelf and it is a key ingredient in dozens of dishes. It's easy to buy in Lisbon, but quite hard to find outside the country. As it's so simple to make and keeps well, I recommend making it, but you could also substitute any other ready-made roasted red pepper sauce, as long as it isn't full of herbs; Turkish red pepper paste or Italian roasted pepper sauces are good options." ~ Rebecca Seal.
4 red peppers, washed, halved, ribs and seeds removed, and cut into 3 cm- (1¼ in-) wide strips
3 Tbs coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove, crushed
6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to grease
1 Tbs Piri Piri Sauce* recipe below
1 Tbs Massa de Pimentao (roasted red pepper paste)* recipe below
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 rack of pork ribs with plenty of meat
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs white wine
60 ml water
Piri Piri Oil to serve (optional)
Red Onion Pickle:
Ideally, make the pickle a day before you’d like to serve it. Thoroughly clean a heatproof jar (including the lid) in hot soapy water, then place the jar in a low oven for 15 minutes.
Place the onion slices and garlic in a bowl and cover with freshly boiled water. Let it sit for 1 minute, then drain. Set a non-reactive saucepan over a medium heat and bring the vinegar to a simmer along with the salt, sugar, chilli, coriander seeds, peppercorns and bay leaf. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, add the drained onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Finally, pour the whole lot into the sterilised jar. Seal the jar and allow to cool.
The pickle will be ready to eat in 1–2 hours and will keep for at least 1 month in the fridge.
Piri Piri Sauce:
Thoroughly clean a heatproof jar (including the lid) in hot soapy water, then place the jar in a low oven for 15 minutes.
Place all the ingredients into a blender and purée until roughly combined.
Taste and decide whether you would like more heat; add another chilli or even 2 if you really like heat. (The fieriness of the paste will be weakened by cooking, so go for slightly more heat than you think you like.) Purée until really smooth, then transfer to the clean, sterilised jar, seal and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Roasted Red Pepper Paste:
Place the pepper strips in a bowl with the salt and stir to ensure each piece comes into contact with the salt. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave for 36 hours to cure at room temperature, stirring once or twice.
At the end of the curing period, the peppers will have released a lot of water.
Discard this salty liquid and pat the peppers dry.
Preheat the grill (broiler) to high. Grease a baking tray with oil, place the pepper strips on the tray, skin side up, and cook under the grill until they blister and blacken. Remove from the grill and place in a plastic freezer or sandwich bag. Seal and leave to steam and then cool. When completely cool, rub off the skins using your thumbs.
Using a stick blender or food processor, purée the peppers along with the garlic and olive oil. Taste – it will be very salty but also moreishly sweet and garlicky.
Thoroughly clean a heatproof jar (including the lid) in hot soapy water, then place the jar in a low oven for 15 minutes. Transfer the paste to the jar, seal and store in the fridge. The paste should last for a couple of weeks (pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the paste will help it keep for longer).
Mix together the piri piri sauce, roasted red pepper paste and lemon juice in a bowl. Rub this marinade into the pork ribs and place in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight, if possible.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/Gas 3). Season the ribs all over with black pepper and place in an ovenproof roasting dish. Cook for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and place the ribs on a large piece of foil: pour over the wine and the water, then seal the foil tightly and return to the oven for another hour.
When the meat is really tender, serve straight away or flash the ribs under a very hot grill (broiler) to crisp up. Cut into individual ribs, or leave whole to take to the table, and serve with a little tangle of the sour red onion pickle on the side.
Credits: Recipes and images from Lisbon by Rebecca Seal, with photography by Steven Joyce, published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $45
Photo Credits: Recipes and images from Lisbon by Rebecca Seal, with photography by Steven Joyce, published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $45