While I do make Stewed Ribs when baby-back goes on sale and have shared that recipe with you, this will be the first time I’m making/sharing a Pelau recipe with ribs as the cornerstone of the recipe. We’ve done Chicken Pelau, Vegan Pelau, Oxtail Pelau, Salted Pigtail Pelau, Beef Pelau, Curry Stewed Chicken Pelau, Curry Chicken Pelau and most recently, I did and amazing Seafood Pelau that blew people’s mind! However, this version using pork ribs (use beef if you wish) is truly one of my faves.. #ComfortFood
5 lbs pork ribs
1 lemon (juice)
1 tablespoon pepper sauce
2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1-2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion (sliced)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon golden brown sugar
1 large carrot (cubed)
2-3 pimento peppers (sliced)
1 can red kidney beans (small)
2+1 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 cups coconut milk
3 cups long grain par-boiled rice (washed)
1/2 lb spinach (washed)
Note! This Incredible Pork Rib Pelau recipe is inspired by my friend Chef Barry Bartholomew IG @cheffinbar.
Cut the ribs individually (you may remove the sliver skin on the underside first if you wish), then wash with cool water and the juice of the lemon and drain dry. Now it’s time to season the ribs and have them marinate for at least 2 hours.
Add the Caribbean Green Seasoning, salt, black pepper, onion, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, Angostura bitters and peppersauce (hot sauce). You may use fresh Scotch Bonnet or your fav pepper if you wish… I was out of them. Stir well and marinate.
Watch the video below to follow along with this step (as well as how to cut the rack of ribs into individual ribs) as it can be a bit tricky. NO, the sugar we’re about to use will NOT make this dish sweet.
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot. Add the brown sugar and using a dry spoon, stir the sugar. It will melt, go frothy, then amber. As soon as it goes DEEP amber in color (be gentle here) add the seasoned ribs to the pot. Should the sugar go black, STOP! Allow the pot to cool completely (move from the hot burner) and wash, dry and start over. Or you will have a bitter tasting dish.
This step is called “stewing/browning” and it’s one of the most important steps in preparing Pelau. BTW Pelau is basically a one pot dish, with a protein, pigeon peas (not today), coconut milk, herbs etc and rice. Made mostly in the Southern Caribbean and differs from island to island in the ingredients used. As you add the seasoned ribs to the pot, stir to have them coated in the ‘browning’.
Put the lid on the pot, turn the heat down to med/low and let it go for about 15 minutes. Try to stir every 4-5 mins. Yes it will sprout it’s own natural juices.
After the 15 minutes, remove the lid and crank up the heat to high. The goal here is to develop a rich flavor and deep color. Be mindful to stir and keep an eye on things so it doesn’t burn.
When you can see the oil we started with (some fat will render from the pork ribs too) at the bottom of the pot, it’s time to add the red beans (I used a small variety of red beans out of a can, which I washed – traditionally pigeon peas is use in making Pelau), carrot, Pimento peppers (aka seasoning peppers), vegetable stock, coconut milk and water. I added 2 cups of water here and later on I added the 3rd cup (more on that in the video below).
Bring this up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, lid on slightly ajar and allow it to cook for about 30 minutes or until the ribs starts getting tender.
It is then time to wash your rice (watch the video below where I comment about this) and add it to the pot. Bring back to a boil (you may need to raise the temp a bit), then reduce to a simmer.
After about 10 minutes I added the spinach and stirred it in. It was here I noticed I needed more liquid, so I added the 3rd cup of water. No spinach is not traditional to this dish, but as I mentioned in the video. It’s a great way to sneak vegetables etc into a dish for children and picky eaters.
The spinach will wit down so don’t stress about seeing it pile on. There are 2 things to pay attention to when it comes to Pelau. The color and the texture. Both are personalization based on the individual. Some like it a bit darker and this is achieved by the “browning or stewing” step at the start. The other key thing people focus on, is the texture. You’re Team Wet Pelau (meaning a bit soggy) or Team Dry Pelau, meaning there’s a look of steamed (grainy) rice at the end. I’ve recently converted to Team Wet Pealu, so I used a bit more than usual liquid, plus I stirred the rice quite a bit. By stirring, the rice grains rub on each other and release starch, giving the finished dish a more creamy (wet) texture.
After another 10 minutes or so, you’ll be done. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. I like to turn the stove off, place the lid on and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with a side of watercress, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, coleslaw and/or a thick slice of Avocado (say zabouca). In my case I like mine with a side of Roasted Tomato Choka and/or Roasted Pepper Choka.
Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/