Summer is full on now, no dew in the mornings, and warm breezes through the night, with lots of eating out of doors, watering of gardens, and chatting in the shade. The cows hunker down in the copses in the valley for the afternoon, flicking their tails, and chewing their cuds. The three horses all gather in our big walk-in shelter, waiting until the afternoon heat subsides. In the late afternoon, we take the dogs down to the beach for a swim and retrieve session, cooling us all down. July on the Gulf Islands is only surpassed by August on the Gulf Islands.
We gather more often for casual meals in the summer, most likely because it’s easier. No one wears much of anything anyhow; flip-flops and cut-offs are our A-list of fashion. It feels easier to drop what you’re doing, come on over, get a cold beverage, and visit while dinner gets ready.
I have no concerns about braising meats in the summer. It doesn’t really matter if the oven’s on low for several hours, as we’ll be eating outdoors anyhow. One of my favourite summer meals is ribs & coleslaw, we usually have some bread or rice to accompany it, and maybe some pickles, and if we’re really being fancy, a tossed salad. The ribs get braised for 3 hours, and can be cooked just before finishing them, or the day before, ready to be glazed with the BBQ sauce. They still taste wonderful, and the meat falls off the bone. I put out a big dish of them, letting folks take as many as they want, with lots of napkins to clean off sticky fingers.
We sit and talk until dusk, most of the meal is put away, but we’re still lured to stay put, enjoying the few first cooler breezes of the night. These nights the sky is light well past 9:00, but by the end of August, we’ll be finishing our outdoor dining in the flickering light of candles and mini lights, while we watch the stars get brighter above.
Serves 8 – 9
About 3 kg pork back ribs (allowing for about 350 gr per person)
3 cups of Cola (non-diet) or orange Juice
1 head of garlic cloves – skinned and separated.
¼ c oil
1 onion, either finely chopped or thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
2 c ketchup
¼ c balsamic vinegar
¼ c white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)
½ c brown sugar
¼ c molasses
2T Worcestershire sauce
2T grainy Dijon
Optional – for heat – add in one finely chopped chipotle, or 1 tablespoon Tabasco or, 1 teaspoon dried chilies – or more if you like…
Preparing the ribs:
Cover well with tin foil, pressing in the edges to hold in all the moisture.
Cook at 300° for 3 hours.
While the ribs are cooking, prepare the BBQ sauce. This can also be done ahead, up to a week, and reheated gently for ½ an hour before using.
Heat the oil in a large pot.
Add in all the other ingredients.
Back to the ribs:
After your ribs have cooked for 3 hours, do a fork test to be sure they are at the “fall off the bone” stage. All being well, they are. If not, give them a bit more time – even if it means dinner’s a bit later, believe me no one will care!
Remove the ribs from the oven. Drain off all the liquid. Don’t worry about the garlic pieces. Be very careful pouring it off. I usually fold back one corner of the foil about 2 inches, and hold the foil wrapped pan firmly (using pot holders) and tip it to drain.
Spread the BBQ sauce over all, turning gently.
Increase the oven temperature up to 350°
Grilling option: Finish the sauce covered rib portions on a grill, over medium heat. Cook each side for 10-15 minutes. Lowering the temperature a bit if needed. Serve immediately.