I’ve been pretty open about my addiction to buying cookbooks thus far, and there’s no stopping me now. Just last weekend I was strolling over to the Eaton Centre to visit my amazing eyebrow girl, Hana, when I decided to duck into the Home Sense on Yonge for a quick, innocent browse before my appointment. To be fair, it was raining like the world was about to end, and I felt there was no harm in seeking a bit of warm shelter in my happy place that is Home Sense.
Walking up and down the aisle of cookbooks, my eyes darted back and forth between every title, trying to decipher what was new, and what was missing from my collection. I swiftly picked up My Little French Kitchen, the follow up book to Rachel Khoo‘s first book (and show) My Little Paris Kitchen.
To be honest, I hadn’t touched My Little Paris Kitchen much since I first bought it. Mainly because, in a way, I felt that the recipes were almost “too French” for my liking, if that makes any sense. I loved the layout and the design of the book, as well as being inspired by Rachel’s career (half asian girls who love to cook for the win!). My problem with the recipes was that, for the most part, they seemed too time consuming and far richer and heavier than the average meal I would prepare at home.
Most of me said, ‘No, Grace, put the book down, you don’t need another. You didn’t even use the first one.” but that other little part of me said “What the heck! This one looks better than the last one and, like, YOLO.” And so I headed to the cash register to pay for my new cookbook before heading out to get my eyebrows threaded across the street.
Despite the fact that I’m a shopaholic with a cookbook obsession who can justify the purchase of just about anything, I do truly think that this cookbook is one that’s easier to incorporate into your everyday life in the kitchen. Not every recipe will take you hours, and it won’t always include mounds of butter, sugar, and fat.
While flipping through the pages once I got home, one recipe that caught my eye was Khoo’s Sticky Cassis Pork Ribs with Mint and Fava Bean Couscous. Most often when I’m searching for recipes I try to spot things I already have in my fridge or pantry so I can use up what I’ve already got. I had recently purchased a bottle of Creme de Cassis when I made a blueberry pie recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, and thought I could use another excuse to use it again. There was also just enough couscous left in a jar, I had fresh mint in the garden, and I even happened to have a black currant jam from Bonne Maman. I was sold.
One thing I do love about My Little French Kitchen is that the book is divided by different regions in France, with pages in between that feature Khoo’s take on traditional recipes from each area. The Sticky Cassis Pork Ribs and Mint and Fava Bean Couscous comes from the Provence portion of the book - with Khoo’s added suggestion in the recipe intro to try “a dash of almost black, glistening creme de cassis with some Champagne and you have yourself a delicious Kir Royale (or just a Kir when paired with white wine).” This recipe seemed like a fresh, flavourful and slightly sweet dish that would be perfect to enjoy on a summer night. Keep reading for how to make it!
Sticky Cassis Pork Ribs with Mint and Fava Bean Couscous:
(serves 4 to 6)
What You Need:
1/2 cup black currant jam
4 tbsp runny honey
1/2 cup creme de cassis
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, zested and roughly chopped
3 lb pork ribs or beef short ribs
For the Couscous:
1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves and stalks separated
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen fava beans
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup plus 1 tbsp couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
What To Do:
In a small bowl, whisk together the jam, honey, creme de casses, pepper, lemon zest, and 2 tsp of salt. Place the ribs and chopped lemon with the marinade in a large freezer bag and seal it tightly. Give it a shake so the ribs are covered. Marinate, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.
Preheat the over to 300F. Place the ribs, chopped lemon, and marinade on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with foil, and cook for 2 hours. Turn the heat to 400F, remove the foil, and baste the ribs with the marinade. Roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, basting a couple of times. The sauce should become glossy from the sauce. Remove from the oven, transfer to a dish, and cover with foil. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and boil for 5 to 10 minutes until reduced by half, then pour the sauce over the ribs. (Admittedly, I skipped this part as I found the sauce to be thick enough by the time it came out of the oven.)
Meanwhile, make the couscous: Roughly chop the mint stalks and place them in a pot with the beans, a pinch of salt, and the water. Bring to a boil, then pour over the couscous. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and rest for 10 minutes. Remove the mint stalks, fluff with a fork, stir in the mint leaves and olive oild and taste for salt.
Serve the sticky ribs with the couscous.
As you can see, the recipe is fairly simple and straightforward. Plus, you really get a meal that’s ready to hit the table by the end of it. I had decided to add a fresh tomato and herb salad as a side, just to get some extra vegetables onto our plates, but you certainly don’t need anything extra at all. Everything turned out as I imagined and hoped it would, resulting in something that actually resembled the photo on page 138 of Khoo’s book. The ribs themselves were sticky and sweet, and even a bit tart from the lemon. If you chose to buy closer to 4-5lbs of ribs I think you would still have plenty of sauce to go around. Even my boyfriend loved this dish! And the ribs were even better the next day pulled out of the fridge and enjoyed cold as a delicious little snack.
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