Sticky cider spare ribs with chilli squash and leaves salad

These sticky cider spare ribs should be enough for a dozen guests with a potato salad laced with crisp bacon, if you like, or this chilli squash and leaves salad.

This is an oven recipe. I’ve also added a cider vinegar-based marinade should you want you want to barbecue.

A note on chilli. There’s chilli powder as well as smoky paprika in the sauce/marinade and the squash is roasted with dried chilli. Chilli powder contains chilli, cumin, dried oregano, paprika and garlic powder so it’s there  more for flavour not heat. You could crumble a dried chilli into the marinade but there is a danger that you will make it bitter. The chilli on the squash adds spicy heat but is balanced with the cool of tomatoes. You can make this ahead.

Serves 12
Cooking time: 90 minutes for braising. Plus 40 minutes roasting.

Ingredients for the ribs

Pork spare ribs x 4 racks / 2kg
Medium cider x 500ml
Cider vinegar x 200ml
Passata x 400ml
Tomato puree x 3 teaspoons
Onion x 1 diced
Garlic x 2 cloves, crushed
Smoked paprika x 2-3 tablespoons
Chilli powder or a mild/mid-heat chilli
Dark muscovado sugar x 180 g

Steps for the ribs

  1. Heat your oven to 220C/Gas7
  2. Put the ribs in a roasting tin, in one layer and cover with cider. Top up this up with water if needed, to just cover the meat. Cover this with foil or baking parchment and cook for 90 minutes.
  3. Fry the onion until it is soft. Add the garlic, smoked paprika and chilli powder. Add the tomato puree, passata, cider vinegar and sugar. Simmer this for 10 minutes. Then leave it to cool. (You can chill it if you’re not going to use it straight away.)Heat your oven to 220C/Gas7Heat your oven to 220C/Gas 7.
  4. When the ribs are cooked, Drain them well, lightly sprinkle them with salt, cover them and chill them until you need them. If both the ribs and the sauce are cool you can brush the sauce over the ribs at this stage and marinade them but it’s not vital to do this. Keepo any left-over sauce for dipping.
  5. Brush the ribs with the sauce if you haven’t (see step 4) and lay them on baking sheet. Roast them on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn them over. Roast them for a further 20 minutes or until they are lovely and brown
  6. Slice the ribs. Use any extra sauce for dipping.

Chilli squash and leaves salad

You can roast the squash at the same time as the ribs but keep an eye on it. You want it squashy and just caught but not black. You will need to let the squash cool down before making the salad otherwise the leaves will start to wilt. In which case, put the squash in first.

Ingredients for the salad

Butternut squash x 1 large
Chili flakes or a dried chili crumbled
Tomatoes (a mix of ripe, tomatoes, room-temperature and ideally including beefsteak) x 700g
Spring onions x 6
Rocket or strong leafy salad x 70g
Feta cheese x 60g
Olive oil
Cider vinegar

Steps for the salad

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/Gas 7
  2. Peel and de-seed your squash. Chop it into chunks about the size of the end of a big thumb.
  3. Put the chunks on a baking tray. Sprinkle them lightly with olive oil and chilli, then season and toss them so that they are covered all over.Roast the squash on the top shelf for 25-30 minutes or until they are soft. Test the squash. If a knife point slides in easily they are cooked. They’re going in a salad so they should be squashy but not sloppy.
  4. Let the squash cool.
  5. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Slice the spring onions finely at an angle. Sprinkle with cider vinegar and season.
  6. Lay the rocket or leaves on a plate or in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and spring onions. Then the squash and finally the cheese. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Hot and sweet cider vinegar marinade

As an alternative, marinade the ribs overnight in the fridge and then cook them on a barbecue. This marinade will also work with vegetables.

Ingredients for the marinade

Cider vinegar x 5 tablespoons
Tomato ketchup x 5 tablespoons
Dark muscovado (or light if you prefer) x 3 tablespoons
Worcestershire sauce x 1 tablespoon
Tabasco sauce x 2 teaspoons
Ground cumin x 1-2 teaspoons
Black pepper

Where to get your chillis

South Devon Chilli Farm

Dartmoor Chilli Farm

The Culmstock Chilli Company

Eden Project

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