My old man and I had little in common but we did follow the same football team and we shared a love of those bits of the beast that others, especially these days, throw away. “Giblets, ribs, trotters, hearts, bring ‘em on” was our rallying cry.
My mother always cooked bacon ribs with butter beans, the dried ones which she soaked overnight in cold water. I’ve always preferred ribs with cabbage, especially at this time of year when the sweet, crisp little York cabbages are about. This week I combined the two to make a satisfying dish, the more so as the weather seems to have reverted to the stuff of winter.
The repast was given a slightly luxurious vibe by the fact that I had a one-owner, low mileage bottle of Prosecco left over from The Sunday Times ‘Sunday’ tasting the day before.
2 sheets bacon ribs, each cut into 3 parts
½ bottle cheap white wine
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Herbs – I used a small handful of thyme, marjoram and rosemary
2 tins butter beans (in water, no salt)
1 small York cabbage, cut in 25mm thick slices
1 tbsp freshly-grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Half fill a large lidded pan with cold water. Place ribs in pan and boil/steam them for 15 minutes. Drain, discarding water, return ribs to pan. Pour wine over ribs and add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and the herbs of your choice.
Continue cooking until the ribs are approaching how you like them – some love ribs that fall off the bones, others like a bit of ‘bounce’ in the texture. Be careful not to let the stock evaporate – add a little more wine or water if necessary.
Add the butter beans and cook for 5 minutes. Pile the cabbage over the ribs and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, tops. Drain, reserving the wine/stock. Keep ribs and cabbage hot while you blend/purée the butter beans with a little of the wine/stock. Stir in the parmesan and serve.
I like to think my mum and dad would have approved. Though the idea of throwing wine over a peasant cut like bacon ribs would have seemed extravagant to two people who’d lived through the 30’s depression.