Tag Archives: bacon ribs

RECIPE Bacon ribs, cabbage and butter beans – The Big, Big Compromise

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.

Serves 4-6

So it goes… This week's decent drinking

Sibella is out to dinner with her golfing chums. Which is why I’m tucking into bacon ribs, cannellini beans (no butter beans down the local deli) and Savoy cabbage, the sort of fare I always find for myself when milady is absent as she’s far too ‘refeened’ to partake of that good ole peasanty grub. That or it reminds her of school!

Anyhow, to accompany same I hauled up a bottle of D’Arenberg ‘The Custodian’ Grenache, 2002. This was one I mislaid from a limited edition trio produced by Chester – same grapes,  different soils – I reviewed them in F&W some years ago. This particular wine was fettled from grapes grown on ‘sand on clay’ soil – I remember at the time that it was by far the most tannic of the three. Now the tannins had resolved nicely, pointing up the dark sweet fruit that came through in abundance. The influence of oak was not particularly overt (2nd and 3rd fill American and French barrels were used) though some vanilla and spice came through.

All in all, pretty impressive and aging gracefully.

Otherwise than that it was Dom Perignon week, starting with a tasting at the Abbey of  Hautvillers where the good monk perfected the techniques that turned Champagne into a world beater. I liked the 2000 very much, totally different in character to the rich, rumbustious 1995 that gave up its charms to the accompaniment of a fanfare of trumpets. The 2000 was fragrant, delicate, almost an ‘I can’t believe it’s…’ sort of wine with less of a family resemblance than the others in the tasting. In Proustian terms this was the beautiful sister, home for the holidays, sat quiet but serene amid the big, noisy huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ siblings.

The event culminated with a night on the 1976 in Louis XIV’s dining room at Versailles (about which, more anon). This wine impressed with its freshness – still light in colour and spicy and zesty on the nose. A more substantial body than I remembered from that vintage too. What a good food wine  – although I would have killed for a Cornas or a Cote Rotie with the pheasant and hare dishes half way through the 20-courser. Where’s Simon Tyrell when you need him?