Getting your Vitamin C

So someone gives you a bag of oranges and they aren’t your favourite fruit, what do you do? Make marmelade, naturally. I’ve made jam once before – strawberry, I believe – and remember the wonder of watching it turn from fruity porridge into jam right before my eyes; another one of those kitchen wonders, like beating eggs and sugar till they turn almost white and marshmallowy, or more obviously, watching bread and cakes rise (and for those lucky enough to have experienced, souffles and muffins).

My orange marmelade was less spectacular in showmanship than the strawberry jam, which I put down to my decision to use less sugar than the recipe stipulated (the oranges were already super-sweet, which also motivated my decision to add lots of fresh ginger in the mix), and not adding pectin to the pot. So I missed the big jelly moment, but when it cooled down, it was indeed marmelade, albeit a little more runny than conventional types. The mix of ginger and orange spoke well for itself on a slice of toast with cheese the following morning, even if half of it did end up on the philosophe’s trousers (his fault for not holding the toast at a perfectly horizontal angle!).

The question, then, of what next. I had my sights on some sticky marmelade (pork) ribs, but when I got to the shop all they had were beef ribs (who eats beef ribs?). Nevertheless, I seized them, and the day, and set to work trying to find out what to do with them. Rib recipes generally advocate the barbecue method, which I am told describes not just a cooking method, but can refer to a particular dish (complete with side stuff), or a whole occasion (not unlike our braai, I want to believe, but apparently I’m wrong. I plan to investigate this phenomenon more seriously in a week or two when the philosophe and I hit New Orleans, and have been duly directed to the famous Mother’s Restaurant). Given the Cape’s slow descent into winter (no good for outside fires no more), and my lack of slow-cooker or smoker, I had to go with an oven method, and found a recipe for braised beef short ribs.

I more or less followed that recipe, which sadly involved no marmelade, but I did substitute the veal stock for freshly squeezed orange juice, with the result – as Glen the sailor pointed out – of a very Daube tasting sauce (think slow cooked meat in red wine and orange juice). I’m not sure I can describe in any way that do them justice how those short beef ribs turned out. They were tender. Not fatty at all. Tender. Sweet Baby Jesus were they tender! They will be back on the table, oh yes they will.

(Isn’t it amazing that you can forget something you never even knew?)

Less amazing, but adequately good was the chicken I baked along with them, because it had this delicious sauce of … marmelade (and garlic and chilli). It had to get in there somehow, and so it did. And just like that, I made sure six of us (including one bun in the oven) got a righteous dose of Vitamin C: set for winter, at the hands of your good doctor.

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