Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rum-Glazed Pirate Ribs

I'll break right of the galleys here with with an admission: pirates very rarely, if ever, ate ribs. The pirate's diet is a source of much discussion. One could spend a ton of time talking pirate diet, as I most certainly am about to.

The diet of the average swashbuckler was decent for the first few weeks of a voyage - bread, hard tack sea biscuits, salted meat, dried beans, cheese, oatmeal, peas, pickled vegetables, and eggs. However as the weeks wore on, the cows and chickens relied on for produce would be eaten themselves, meat would become rotten, and alternatives were sought out, like sea turtles.

While not technically pirate, this from the August, 1768 London Gazette: "....Provisions now stowed in the hold of Endeavour as she starts her long journey include nine thousand pounds of flour, four thousand pieces of beef, six thousand pieces of pork, twenty bushels of salt, and nearly eight thousand pounds of Sour Krout, which Lieutenant Cook proposes to use as a Preventative to scurvy. In addition, there is livestock consisting of seventeen sheep, five fowls, four ducks, a boar, sow and piglets, and a goat to supply milk for the Officers. Lieutenant Cook proposes to replenish supplies with fish at sea, and fruit, animal life and water at various landfalls…….."

Two of the most well-know dishes tell the whole story. Pirate Bone Soup was a combination of all the bones left over from the weeks previous. Salmagundi was a dish made up of whatever was available - chopped meat (beef, fish, chicken, pig, turtle, etc.), eggs, anchovies, onions, grapes, cabbage and herring. Salt, pepper, garlic, oil and vinegar were often used as seasoning. Refuges of a sea-borne scoundrel.

From a drinking standpoint, rum was the name of the game, especially in and around the Caribbean. In addition to be used to mask the awful taste of rancid water (grog), it was also used more conventionally - to get hammered. Some great pirate drinks include: Maize, Glogg, Ginger Rum, Bumboo, Rumfustian, Sangaree, and Flip. Look em up.

Because pirate ships didn't have the same level of organization and on-board democracy as say the British navy, sobriety wasn't observed closely. There are some interesting stories about ships being boarded and taken over quite easily as a result.


So what makes this dish pirate? Well first: rum. The second, it's heavily rubbed, and thirdly, if you eat ribs with utensils, you almost certainly have 'issues' with looking people in the eye.

So here's how it goes- Ingredients:
- 1 rack spare ribs (3 to 4 lb.)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup dark rum
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

In a bowl, mix brown sugar, paprika, cumin, pepper and salt. Rub mixture evenly over ribs. Let sit for 20 - 30.

In the meantime, get your bbq up to 250, indirect. Place the ribs on the grill, and let sit for about an hour and start with the glaze- in a small pan, mix rum, sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After an hour, brush the ribs heavily with about 3/4 of the glaze, and let smoke for another 45 minutes to hour. Then re-brush and let smoke for 30 more minutes.

The rum you use here can make or break you. While I'm still experimenting, what I have found is that why the Nicaraguan Fleur de Cana is your best friend, while Bacardi Select or any of the lighter variations don't serve the purpose, and make the sugar canee taste to apparent.

This will be the first in a series of posts about pirate food.

1 comment:

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