In the Simpsons pantheon, there exist a fair number of foods that reduce Homer to a quivering, unintelligible state of…transcendence (?) – and at the top of this food pyramid sits the ‘ribwich’, a single bite of which is shown to trigger some kind of frenzied acid trip within homer’s consciousness (ok, to be fair so did the decades-old box of baking soda with the ‘absorbed odours of a million meals’, but there’s no way I’m touching that shit).
Made of an indeterminate animal (smaller than a pig, apparently, and with more legs) and paired with a sauce so delicious, homer would greedily lick it off a costumed stranger for hours, the ribwich was something I just had to take on.
Now, with the ribwich an obvious parody of the McDonald McRib burger, I had an abundance of visual cues to take reference from. The first step was deciding what kind of meat to use, and how to form it into the classic, ribbed shape.
I settled on minced pork shoulder, which is allegedly what McDonalds use in their McRib. I say ‘allegedly’, because that’s what McDonalds claim to use, but then they also assert that their thickshakes are not made primarily of pureed hog grease, and we all know that’s a lie.
Now, onto shaping the mince. Unfortunately, I’m not in possession of a smelting plant into which I can pour molten meat into casts, as depicted in the ribwich commercial, so I would have to come up with another solution
One trip to the hardware store later, and I was ready to do business.
To shape the patty, I pressed the minced pork into a baking tin, placed the mould on top and weighted it down with some pastry beads. And into the oven it goes! You may note that my mould is made of wood. Not wanting aurora borealis to spontaneously appear in my kitchen, it’s been soaked in water for half an hour prior to going in. I set the oven to a low temp, about 100 C, and left for about 40 minutes. At this point I removed it, slathered it in sauce, wrapped in foil and cooked for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the foil, baste again, turn up the heat to 250 and cook until it gets some colour. At the end of the process it should look something like this:
For the bun, I used a recipe I found online for potato rolls. And they were incredible.
- 1 cup mashed potatoes
- 2/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup scalded milk
- 6 cups flour (half bread flour and half plain flour) N.B – the dough can be a bit wet, so add more flour if it looks as though it needs it
- 1 packet dry active yeast (7g)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm reserved potato water with 1 tsp sugar added to it.
- Boil potatoes until tender. Drain water, reserving 1/2 cup for use in rolls. Finely mash potatoes and measure 1 cup for rolls. Cool mashed potatoes to nearly room temperature.
- Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm potato water. Set aside for 5 minutes. (It should be foamy after 5 minutes.)
- In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, sugar, honey and salt. Mix together on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
- Add yeast mixture to lukewarm milk. Stir.
- Add the yeast and milk mixture to the potato mixture. Mix on low speed until blended.
- Gradually add flour (one cup at a time) until a soft dough forms.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer and knead for about 5 minutes at low speed.
- Place dough in lightly oiled bowl. Put dough is a slightly warm place, cover it and let the dough double.
- Punch down dough and shape into rolls. Place rolls about 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets. I have pretty large baking sheets and I used two.
- Sprinkle rolls with some sesame seeds and let the dough rise again.
- Bake in a preheated oven set at 210 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Greg’s Famous BBQ Sauce
Like any self-respecting home cook, the recipe for this sauce came from a trusted variety of methods: trial and error, persistence, hard work , and, most importantly, shameless pilfering from the internet.
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 50 mls Worcestershire sauce
- 50 mls cider vinegar (apprx 1/4 of a cup)
- 5 tsp chili powder – I used Herbie’s Mexican Chilli powder, which I found in Thomas Dux. Or you can buy it online. Or you can substitute with whatever you like
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- A good pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup brown sugar
- A pinch of msg
- 3 tbsp american mustard.
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- Heat a good splash of oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on low-medium heat, add in onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes, until onion is softened
- Add all of the spices to the saucepan and stir for another couple of minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and increase the heat. Allow the sauce to come to a boil while stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool, then place in an airtight container in the fridge.
So did it cause me to freak out, leaving me a drool-covered gibbering shell of a man? Not quite, but it was damned tasty, and I now have a tray of delicious rolls and a big jar full of sauce to use on those rolls.