February 1, 2012

How could a farewell taste so dam good?

To say bon voyage to Monique and Brett back in December, we decided to have a tapas style party.

These tapas parties started back in September last year as a way to have a no fuss dinner party for Monique's birthday. At the time, Monique asked me for ideas on an easier way to hold a dinner party so that she could do something for her birthday but not spend the whole night in the kitchen. So I said "why don't you ask everyone to bring a taste plate of something savoury and then a taste plate of something sweet?" Pictures from this event will be in a separate post.

The one thing that I loved about growing up in a Greek/Italian neighbourhood was the introduction of antipasti. To me, the way it was presented, encouraged the eater to take little pieces of everything which made your plate look like an epic combination of flavours, textures and colours. I love the idea of not being stuck with one huge meal, but being able to have a try of many dishes that either one cook or a group of cooks think are simply fabulous.

The other great thing about having a "tapas" party is that everything can be brought in on disposable plates, so there is minimal fuss in the wash-up at the end.

But don't be fooled. Just because the food portions are small, doesn't mean the effort or flavour is diminished. The bar has been set very high for these parties, and the food that everyone brings is absolutely stunning. I will talk about what I cooked for this one...and then I will share pictures of what was cooked for the night.

So for this party I really wanted to do something with a Spanish theme, considering that we call these parties "tapas" parties. So I started to research Spanish tapas recipes and in the end...came across this one...

Chipotle-glazed pork ribs
(costillas de cerdo al chipotle)

(From Gourmet Traveller 2010 Fare Exchange gourmettraveller.com.au)

Cooking Time Prep time 30 mins, cook 2 hrs 25 mins (plus cooling)
Serves 6

3 litres chicken stock
1 garlic head
2 cinnamon quills
2 star anise
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 kg pork loin back ribs
For dusting: masa flour (see note)
1 tsp ground cumin
40 gm butter, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
20 pickling onions
60 ml Pedro Ximénez
For deep-frying: vegetable oil
To serve: coriander

Chipotle glaze
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 gm peeled Roma tomatoes
300 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
300 ml chicken stock
200 gm tinned chipotle chillies in adobo sauce (see note)
75 gm (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
1 cup (loosely packed) coriander

For chipotle glaze, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion and stir occasionally until slightly caramelised (7-10 minutes). Add garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté until tender (5-6 minutes). Add remaining ingredients (except coriander), reduce heat to low and stir occasionally until sauce thickens (50 minutes-1 hour). Remove from heat, stir through coriander, cool completely, then process in a food processor until smooth and set aside.

Combine stock, garlic, cinnamon, star anise and cumin seeds in a large saucepan and bring to the simmer over low heat, add ribs and simmer until meat is very tender (1½-2 hours). Remove ribs from stock, cool completely, then cut into pieces and set aside.

Combine masa flour and cumin in a bowl, season to taste and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over low heat, add pickling onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender (20-25 minutes). Deglaze pan with Pedro Ximénez, shaking to combine, season to taste and set aside.

Preheat oil to 180C in a deep saucepan or deep-fryer. Dust ribs in flour mixture, shake off excess, and deep-fry in batches until golden (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit).

Heat glaze in a saucepan over low heat, add ribs, toss to combine. Serve hot, scattered with coriander, with pickling onions to the side.

Note Masa flour and chipotle chillies in adobo sauce are available from select delicatessens, Mexican specialty stores and Monterey Mexican Foods.


Here is the only photo that I took of my dish...

Chipotle ribs

The lesson that I learnt from cooking this dish is that Chipotle chillies are HOT!!!. Seriously, use them cautiously. You will see in my photo that I didn't glaze the ribs with the sauce. This is because I wanted everyone to be able to control the heat that they experienced. I also put a side of sour cream into it, for fire control. I would really love to go to the restaurant that contributed this recipe to the Gourmet Traveller so that I can experience how hot they make their ribs. I bet they are delicious, and I would really like to compare the proper flavour with the one that I arrived at.

I also ran out of time to cook the onions on the side...so it isn't a true representation of the dish, but one that received a thumbs up all round. Very popular :)

Ok so on to some of the other dishes. It was a while ago now...so I will put the piccies up for eye candy...

Forgive my photographic blunders on this one...I wasn't concentrating on making them blog worthy...

Anna - Mushroom quiches
Mushroom quiche

Monique - Mushroom and brie tartlets
Mushroom and brie tartlets

Greg - Cheese, sundried tomato and olive tarts
Cheese, sundried tomato and olive tarts

Nat - Bruschetta

Anna - Chocolate brownies
Chocolate brownies

Greg - Chocolate dipped figs
Chocolate dipped figs

Happy Birthday Nat!!! - Chocolate raspberry trifle cake
Chocolate raspberry trifle cake

Great times...DELICIOUS!!!

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