Saturday, May 5, 2012

Matehuala Glazed Ribs featuring the amazing sounds of Odonis Odonis!

You better brace yourselves for today's post my ardent devotees. I have a falling-of-the-bone rack of baby back ribs with a smokey, tangy and spicy glaze. What better way to accompany this than an ever-comforting side of creamy yuca con mojo? 
For dessert, a short interview with Odonis Odonis mastermind Dean Tzenos.
Turn the volume up on your speakers, put your favorite bib on and get ready to rumble.

Ok, so first things first. What is a Matehuala glaze? Matehuala is a city from the state of San Luís Potosí, in northeastern Mexico. Maguey is grown to produce liquor and fibres, but it is primarily a mining and industrial center.
Several months ago, I cooked a dish similar to this for my pals Roberto and Ira. At the end of the meal Roberto decided to christen it as a Matehuala glaze. It stuck with me ever since, just like the glaze will stick to your juicy and succulent ribs.

You will need to go to your nearest Latin market (or simply to your nearest market if you already live in Latin America) and get:

6 cascabel chilis
4 morita chilis
Yuca (also called Cassava or Manioc)

You can purchase the rest of the ingredients in any other market.

Start by roasting around 8 garlic cloves with their skins on in a dry skillet. Over medium heat move your cloves around for around 15 minutes until the skins blister. Toss in a quarter onion too and let blister. Set aside and let cool.

Let me introduce you to the cascabel chili. Cascabel chili, meet my loyal reader.
Cascabel translates to rattle as the seeds are loose inside the chili. If you pick one up and shake it, surely it will rattle. Although they might seem too hot to handle, cascabel chilis are moderately hot (1,000-3,000 Scovilles). They have a nutty, tannic and slightly smokey taste.

This is the morita chile which translates to "little blackberry". They are smoked, red-ripe jalapeños, very similar to the more commonly known chipotle pepper. Moritas are smoked for less time though, allowing them to maintain a slightly fruity flavour. They can be spicy reaching up to 10,000 Scovilles.

Proceed to toast your chilis in the same dry skillet you used for your garlic and onion. It's very important to only toast the chili for no more than a couple of minutes. If you burn the flesh it will take on a bitter taste and ruin your glaze. By toasting your chilis, you will allow the essential oils to flourish. This will intensify the flavour ten-fold and fill your home with a beautiful scent.

Once toasted, you will now add the chilis to a pot of hot water making sure they are fully submerged. Soften the chilis for around 20 minutes. The flesh will hydrate and become fully pliable. 
Remove the stems and the seeds (leave the seeds on if you desire to channel Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire' the morning after).

Toss your chilis, peeled roasted garlic and blistered onion along with 1 cup of the soaking water in the food processor and whirl away.

In a separate pot add a 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, a 1/2 cup of white wine or rice vinegar, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp cloves, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 Tbsp coriander seed.
Reduce by half.

Wash your pot or grab a new one. Toss in:
reduced vinegar (around 1/2 cup)
chili/roasted garlic/onion paste
3 cups of canned tomato sauce (fire-roasted is preferable)
1/4 maple syrup (I am in Montreal, feel free to sub for agave syrup, molasses, honey, etc.)
salt to tase
Simmer until thickened, about 1 hour. If it coats the back of a spoon, it is done.
Use a sieve to remove stray seeds and flesh.

Now we have a irresistibly smokey, spicy, tangy and layered glaze perfect for your baby back ribs.
First we are going to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Grab a sharp knife, tear the membrane carefully and rip it off with your hands. It is a quick process and will make your ribs more enjoyable to munch on.
If you have the time smother your rack with the glaze, cover and marinate for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat your oven to 300F.
Tightly wrap your rack in aluminum foil. Don't skimp out on the foil, use 3 or 4 sheets to cover your ribs. Place the ribs meat side down on a tray, let it hang out in the oven for around 2 hours.

All you have left is the quick and easy Yuca con mojo. Your amazing ribs are in the oven, the sun is out, you are drinking an ice cold Rogue Dead Guy Ale, life is peachy. 

It is now time for you to listen to me.
Grab a couple of left-over cascabel chilis in one hand ready to rattle, like so:

With your other hand, you are going to press play and rattle to the beat:

Hands down, one of my favorite albums of 2012 is Hollandaze from Toronto-based band Odonis Odonis. Their sounds are addictive with surfish, punk-gazey and lo-fi tones flourishing from start to end. You should check them out too.

I connected with Dean Tzenos via 2-way hologram. What, you think only Tupac can do this?
Dean is the brainchild of Odonis Odonis and one busy cat as he is currently on tour through Europe in support of his debut album.
I quickly managed to ask him some questions:

NTFY: Hi Dean, how is your first European tour going? I believe you're in France right now, any amazing food stories you'd like to share?

DT: It's Amazing! We've had some classic French dinners outside on the sidewalk which have been unreal. Boiled patatos with giant local sausage covered in liquid cheese, served with salad, wine and baguettes. Simple and awesome.

NTFY: Is the Royale with cheese just as incredible as Jules Winnfield described it?

DT: Unfortunately we've decided local instead of our usual North American truck stop routine. We almost went to McDonald's once but then decided to eat at an amazing French restaurant called Kitsch in Rouen. Kings meal!

NTFY: Tell us about your upcoming album Soft Boiled, Hard Boiled recorded by the one and only Colin Stewart. Will it be a big departure from Hollandaze?

DT: It's more of a slowburn than Hollandaze. It reveals itself over time and the production is just bigger thanks to my bud Colin Stewart.

NTFY: Let's talk tacos, describe the best taco you've ever had. Was the salsa spicy like your guitar licks?

DT: The best taco was probably at SXSW. It was just the real deal Mexican style taco. Otherwise, the new Taco Loco from Taco Bell is pretty amazing. The shell is made out of Doritos! Loco!

Unfortunately our 2-way hologram conversation got cut-off as Dean went under a tunnel in his tour bus.
Thanks Dean!

It's time to work on our tasty, tasty side dish yuca con mojo. Yuca is a woody shrub native to South America. This starchy, sweet and tuberous root is one of my favorites and very easy to prepare. Cut it in to 4-inch rounds, then set cut side down and slice downwards with a sharp knife to cut off the hard bark. Turn the round after each cut.

Cut the the bark-free yuca in 1-inch squares making sure to discard the fibrous center. Boil the yuca in salted water until fully cooked.

Thinly slice one onion, mince garlic and a thumb-sized piece of ginger. In a pan over low heat, pour in 1 cup of olive oil and the rest of the ingredients. Slowly sweat them for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off, add salt to taste and the juice of 1 lemon. Add the boiled yuca and fresh cut cilantro. Toss and mash the yuca leaving some bits whole for some texture.
That's it, your done! This slow-cooked olive oil, garlic and ginger sauce is called mojo.

After two hours your ribs should be falling of the bone. Return to oven for a little longer if not.
Remove the aluminum foil from the top and smother again liberally with your Matehuala glaze. Set your oven to broil until the sauce darkens and sticks to the ribs.

Grab yourself a plate, add a serving of yuca con mojo and your sticky and tender ribs. You will be the talk of the town as the scents from your kitchen permeate the neighbourhood. Pour yourself another glass of Rogue Dead Guy Ale and you've officially peaked in life.

I almost forgot dessert! Here you go:

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