Comfort Food

Okay so it’s winter. Well, let’s just say that it’s the mildly cooler version of “hot” that we experience in South Africa which, for lack of a better description, we call Winter (unless you live in Cape Town and then it’s just wet all the time).  And suddenly it seems that all anyone can talk about when it comes to the colder months is “comfort food” – because apparently having to wear a jersey is traumatic enough that we require comforting. You see, I’ve never really understood why, when confronted with the idea of “comfort food” the default reaction is to hand over a stew with beans in it (see The Totally Fake Cassoulet) or some kind of dessert with enough hot fudge to constitute a CIA interrogation technique. Or a bowl of soup. Because, personally I’m way more comforted by a packet of niknaks and a massage from a small Thai woman, but you know…that’s neither here nor there.

Ultimately, I’ve always really thought that ‘comfort food’ needs only two qualities to qualify: a) that it be hot, and b) there needs to be lots of it.
And so, with that rather difficult set of criteria to meet, here’s my ultimate top 5 comfort-food list: 1) Ribs 2) Ribs) 3) Mashed Potato 4) Ribs 5) Chutney niknaks and dip and a small Thai woman.

And so, because no-one at the niknaks place will tell me how they make those bad-boys, here’s my (not really) Super Secret Ultimate Rib Marinade.

Before the ribs could jump, I totally ate them.
Before the ribs could jump, I totally ate them.

Sticky Ribs and Herbed Potatoes.

1 or 2 racks of Beef Ribs
4 or 5 Baking Potatoes
1 good handful of Rosa tomatoes
a healthy pinch of thyme leaves (fresh or dried)
a splash of balsamic vinegar
olive oil

For the marinade

3 quarters of a cup of tomato sauce
1 quarter of a cup of honey
1 quarter of a cup of Jack Daniels (you CANNOT substitute this with a Scotch or Irish whiskey, use another Bourbon if you must)
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 large clove of garlic (finely chopped)

What to do:

Whisk together the tomato sauce, honey, whiskey, mustard and garlic. Rub the ribs thoroughly and let them baste for as long as you have patience for. I’d say a minimum of an hour though.

In the meantime boil the potatoes in salted water (of if you’re in a hurry – microwave them for about ten minutes).

Slice the Rosa tomatoes into halves, and in a bowl add a pinch of salt and pepper and splash with the balsamic, set aside.

Once done, slice the potatoes lengthways into fat chips, and in a baking-tray, combine with the thyme, a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and the soaked tomatoes and grill on about 200ºC until turning golden brown. Now this is the best bit, arrange you marinated ribs on top of the potatoes and put it back under the grill, the juices will drip down and coat your potato/tomato mix coating them in a delicious meaty/marinated liquid. Keep basting and turning until the ribs are sticky/slightly charred, serve – and then encourage everyone to lick their fingers, a lot.