Nigel Slater’s recipes for sticky pork ribs, and chocolate-marmalade cakes – The Guardian

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The marmalade-making season frustratingly collides with my annual sabbatical, the month when I pack my suitcase, jump on a plane and allow others to do the cooking. And it really is frustrating because I thoroughly enjoy the day or two that leads to a row of golden jars, glistening in various shades of amber on the larder shelf.

I positively relish the squeezing of juice and the slow shredding of peel and watching it bubble with a Santa’s sack of pulp and pips to a blossom-scented golden jelly. But, alas, I would have to be more organised, pouncing on the first bitter Seville oranges or, waiting until I am home and trying to work with end-of-season fruit that has lost its sparkle.

In this kitchen, marmalade is more of an ingredient to cook with rather than a preserve to spread on my breakfast toast. I’m fine with that and, instead, brush it with generosity on to racks of roasting pork ribs or a fat roll of string-tied gammon.

This year I made plump almond cakes in madeleine tins, soaking them first in the tart juice of a blood orange, then glazing their surface with sweet-sharp marmalade and a crisp spider’s web of dark chocolate.

It was more than enough of a consolation for missing the fun.

Marmalade pork ribs

It is worth lining the roasting tin with kitchen foil. This will save washing up should any of the glaze trickle down and caramelise on the tin.
Serves 4

baby back pork ribs 1kg
Sichuan peppercorns 2 tsp
orange marmalade 6 heaped tbsp
rice vinegar 3 tbsp
potatoes 800g, small to medium
butter 50g

Cut the rack of ribs in half and place it in a steamer basket or colander suspended over a deep pan of boiling water. Cover it tightly with a lid and leave it to steam for 35 minutes.

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Break the peppercorns up a little using a pestle and mortar, but stop short of grinding them down to a powder. Put the peppercorns into a small saucepan with the orange marmalade and vinegar, and heat until the marmalade has melted. Remove from the heat.

Remove the pork ribs from the steamer and place them in a roasting tin. Brush them generously with the spiced marmalade, then put the roasting tin in the oven and leave the ribs to bake for 25 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and steam them over boiling water for 25 minutes, or until they are tender.

Turn the oven up to 220C/gas mark 8. Brush the ribs with the remaining marmalade and continue baking them for 10-15 minutes until the spiced marmalade glaze starts to lightly caramelise. Cut the rack into ribs with a large, heavy kitchen knife.

Melt the butter in a small pan. Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish. Press down on each of the potatoes with the back of a spoon to crack them open, then spoon the melted butter over them. Serve the potatoes with the sticky ribs.

Little chocolate orange cakes

Perfect flavour pairing: chocolate and orange cakes.

Use a nonstick madeleine tin or muffin cases. The cakes are done when they are spongy and gold around the edge, with a paler middle risen to a soft point. You will also need a 12-hole madeleine tin or muffin tin.
Makes 12

butter 100g
caster sugar 100g
eggs 2
self-raising flour 50g
almonds 45g, ground

For the syrup:
marmalade 75g
blood orange juice 100ml

For the glaze:
orange marmalade 50g
dark chocolate 65g

Set the oven at 220C/gas mark 8. Put the butter, cut into small pieces, in the bowl of a food mixer. Add the sugar and beat to a soft, fluffy cream. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly. With the beater still moving, slowly introduce the beaten eggs, then the flour, and lastly the almonds.

Spoon the mixture into the tins, a good heaped tbsp in each hollow. There is no need to smooth the surface. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they are gold and lightly risen, a little point having risen in the centre of each tiny cake.

Make the orange syrup: while the cakes are baking, warm the marmalade and orange juice in a small pan over a moderate heat. Remove from the heat as soon as the marmalade has melted.

Take the cakes from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes before easing them gently from their tins with a palette knife. Place them, pointed side down, on a wire cooling rack set over a baking tray. Spoon the orange syrup over the cakes and let them cool. Any syrup that trickles on to the tin should be poured over the cakes. Leave to cool.

Make the glaze: break the chocolate into small pieces, place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave to melt. Warm the marmalade in a small pan. Brush the marmalade over the cakes, then trickle the chocolate over them. You will find this easiest by dipping a spoon into the chocolate then shaking it back and forth over the cakes. Let the chocolate set before serving.

Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

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