chilean country ribs
© 2017 Norman Van Aken
The Caribe Indians on the island of Hispaniola taught the Spanish how to use green wood lattices to make barbacoa—or what we now know as barbecue. A staple of the islanders’ diet was the wild hog. The locals called the animals boucan, and that French word eventually came to be applied to many of the wild seafaring island men: buccaneers.
Barbecue has become one of the world’s favorite foods; few culinary subjects stir such rabid debate, from Texas to Memphis to South Carolina and on down to the Caribbean and South America. Barbecue as we have come to love it—using marinades and/or sauces and carefully slow-cooking—was perfected in the Caribbean. But some food scholars theorize that barbecue may have originated by accident in China many centuries ago, when a devastating fire burned down a barn, and the pig farmers, who had previously never cooked meat in a fiery fashion, smelled solace in their loss and as a consequence ate well that night. No less an authority on food than Waverly Root stated that cooking in this fashion was “so natural under primitive circumstances that it would practically invent itself everywhere, especially in societies accustomed to living outdoors most of the time.”
If you aren’t familiar with country ribs, this recipe will introduce you to the cut, also known as split blade chops. You’ll love them for all manner of dishes calling for pork ribs, barbecued or otherwise. This is a very easy recipe, though you need to allow the ribs to marinate overnight.
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
4 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
One 7-ounce can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1 cup pure olive oil
4 pounds country pork ribs
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the garlic, jalapeño, scallions, chipotles, oregano, and salt in a food processor and mix until relatively smooth. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the vinegar and then the oil. Transfer this marinade to a bowl.
Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Put them in a large resealable plastic bag, pour 2 cups of the marinade over them, and refrigerate overnight. Cover and refrigerate the remaining marinade.
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.
Remove the ribs from the bag, shake off the excess marinade, and place on the grill. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes, basting with the reserved marinade and flipping them frequently so that they cook evenly. Serve.
Recommended Wine: A red wine with ripe fruit and hints of spice and black pepper, such as a Malbec from Argentina or the Cahors region in France. Of course, the combination of barbecue and beer never misses.