tea smoked ribs

I mentally tucked this recipe away in my head a few weekends ago.  In typical fashion I was flicking through all my books, magazines and Pinterest trying to figure out what I felt like making for dinner.  Flicked past this recipe and thought yum- but not today maybe in a few weeks time.

This recipe is from Neil Perry’s spice temple cook book but I’m sure if you google you could find a similar recipe online. Recipe seemed pretty straightforward- simmer the ribs in aromatics and cool, tea smoke the ribs and then stir fry in a sticky delicious sauce. Simple!

So for the first part of the process I took no photos, and for a good reason.  Water, salt, ginger, garlic, spring onions and the ribs are combined, brought to the boil, simmered for a few minutes and then left to cool in the liquid.  Reason for no photo?  Boiled pork ribs are really ugly- they ain’t pretty.

Let’s move onto something a little more photogenic- making the tea smoking mixture.  This is something I’ve wanted to try for years so I was looking forward to giving it a go.

Making the smoking mix is straightforward- mix brown sugar, jasmine rice (uncooked) and jasmine tea together- done!

The next bit took a while- setting up the smoking station.  I made a wide bowl out of foil, popped it on the bottom of the wok and tipped the smoking mixture in.  Popped a lid on top, turned the heat to high and then patiently waited until the mixture started smoking. Unfortunately I didn’t have a small wire rack that could sit inside the wok so I had to get creative.  

Once the mixture was smoking I balanced the wire rack on top of the wok, assembled the ribs over the smoke mixture and then delicately placed the lid over the top of the ribs.  I had exposed sides all around the edge of the wok which mean I was losing smoke out the sides- so out came the foil and I patched it up.

Ribs smoked for 5 minutes and then you switched off the heat and left it for another few minutes- longer if you wanted them pretty smoky- I found just waiting another 4 minutes was more than enough- they smelt amazing!  However even with the range hood fan cranked up the house was a little smoky- just a warning!

Here’s what the smoking mixture looked like afterwards- charry around the edges and it had solidified- I think that the sugar had probably melted and glued everything together!

Last step- make the caramel and stir fry the ribs in it.  Stir fried garlic and ginger, stirred in sugar and waited until it became a deep caramel colour.  Stir in black vinegar, dark soy sauce and a small amount of chicken stock and cook until slightly thickened.  Add the ribs and continue to stir (this is hard with ribs, so in my case stirring ribs was more like picking up and moving them in the wok with some tongs, less chance of them going overboard!) Cook until the mixture coats the ribs and looks lovely and glossy.

Action shot- look at the caramel bubbling up at the sides.

Pile onto a platter, sprinkle with sesame oil and sesame seeds.  Get plenty of napkins ready because this is messy but worthwhile work- also helps if you have a spare bowl to toss the bones into.

These were really good- the smoke flavour was really pronounced and the sticky soy vinegar sauce was so good.  Only thing next time might be boiling the ribs for a little less time- only criticism was that these were a little dry but that didn’t stop us from hoovering them down!

Definitely want to try tea smoking again but I think I need to sort out a better arrangement for next time! Also wishing I had more ribs now instead of the dishes to do….

Ah well – have you tea smoked anything?  Let me know!

little meats

Last week I decided to finally give my new tortilla pan (a comal) a crack – I was convinced it was the missing link in being able to finally make a decent tortilla that I was happy with.  Corn tortillas are great friends with juicy slow cooked pork so I thought given I was still on leave I’d have plenty of time to slowly cook away a lovely shoulder.

My plan was that I’d give trying to perfect tortillas a crack and then share it with you- which I will but first I just have to share this pork with you, I now have a go to recipe, it’s the best slow cooked pork I’ve ever made that was bound for tacos…

Generally in the past when searching for a recipe I’d just search for pulled pork recipes- and they were generally pretty good but they were cooked with a whole heap of extra ingredients such as rubs, sauces, spices etc and didn’t really seem like an authentic Mexican counterpart to a taco.

So I changed the search criteria and asked Mr Google to look for Carnitas. It basically means ‘little meats’ and is pork cooked very slowly in liquid or lard very slowly and adding some minimal seasoning and cooked down until the liquid evaporates, the pork breaks down and goes nice and golden and crispy and is served with things like coriander, guacamole, tortillas, onion, refried beans etc.

I narrowed it down to a couple of recipes but settled on this one from Epicurious (if you haven’t been to their site you should- lots of great recipes).  A couple of things drew me to it- firstly the inclusion of cooking the pork in milk (had never cooked meat in milk) but then also the addition of half an orange and really not much else ingredient wise.

Recipe decided I purchased a pork shoulder roast (I don’t recommend a leg- you need something with a decent amount of fat), unbound it and removed the skin- cut it into about 8 large chunks, seasoned it and seared it on the stove- pop into the heaviest casserole dish you have (if it’s one you can’t use on a stove top), top with milk, half an orange squeezed over and dump the orange rind in there too.  I also added in a dash of cumin  (quite a few comments with the recipe recommended this) and a liberal dosing of pepper and top with water until almost covered popped on the lid and cooked it for two hours.

Which brings us to this point…


This is where the recipe then advises you to remove the orange and break up the chunks into slightly smaller pieces (which I did) and cook for a further 20 minutes (which I did not).  A lot of the feedback said that they had to cook it for much longer than 20 minutes to completely reduce the liquid and crisp up the pork so I kept going past the 20 minute mark… and kept going…. at about the hour mark I flipped over the pork because I was worried that the pork above the liquid line would dry out. About 15 minutes later I considered removing some of the liquid but decided not to and kept going.

Patience pays off…. 20 minutes was actually 2 hours. However it smelt amazing, and took no effort at all to break up the pork- and the top was just beautifully crispy and caramelized.


Yes this takes 4 hours to make but when it’s in the oven you don’t really have to tend to it at all.  This was just incredibly simple and it sounds silly but just so… porky. They went so well with the tortillas and had them again for lunch again the next day (love love love Mexican food).

Sunday morning I still had some left over in the fridge and rather than freeze the leftovers I thought I would have it join one of my most favourite breakfasts ever- Migas.


Migas are corn tortillas cut up into 8 wedges, fried until crispy (I didn’t add chopped onions this time) crack a couple of eggs over, wait until cooked for a little bit, season, and start to mix it around the pan with some chopped coriander and some cheese if you like.  Then plate it up.  I topped mine this time with chipotle salsa, more coriander, cheese, sour cream and a side of caranitas.  I loved Migas before I’d tried it with carnitas but this took it to another level… would have been even better if I had remembered the pickled jalapeños!

So- this one is forever filed away as my go to pork recipe for Mexican food… set some time aside and give it a go, let me know if you do- I don’t think you’ll have any regrets!