The Stag in Hampstead, NW3 is a great boozer, with great beers, great staff, great food and the best ribs I’ve ever eaten in a pub – so I attempted to re-create them at home (with thanks to their super-chef Asher).
The ingredients for the ribs couldn’t be simpler: a couple of sheets of pork ribs, a can of root beer, a tablespoon each of dried rosemary and thyme. And that’s it.
The shaved fennel salad was a bit more complicated, but not to an off-putting degree.
I’m sure The Stag features a lot more ingredients than I’ve featured here but my results were certainly good enough for a home attempt, if not for one of north London’s premier gastroboozers.
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 sheets of pork ribs, cut into individual ribs 1 can of root beer (or sarsaparilla) 1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried thyme
For the salad
One head of fennel, shaved with a potato peeler
A couple of handfuls of salad leaves (I used a combo of spinach, rocket, baby beetroot and watercress leaves)
1 tbsp sliced jalapeno chilli peppers (from a jar)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds, toasted
1 tsp black onion seeds, toasted 1 tsp black mustard seeds, toasted
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the ribs over a gentle heat, approx. 5 mins. Transfer the ribs, root beer, rosemary and thyme to a slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours, until the meat is so tender it can be plucked off the bone with no effort. If you don’t have a slow cooker, cook in a low oven at 160C/Gas 2 for 2-3 hours.
2. Using tongs, carefully remove the ribs from the stock and transfer to a plate.
3. Transfer the stock to a pan and reduce by three-quarters to produce a sticky glaze.
4. When you’re ready to eat, pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Put the ribs on a rack or roasting tray and using a pastry brush, brush the reduced glaze over each individual rib. Put in the oven for 15 mins.
5. Meanwhile, make the salad by combining the shaved fennel, salad leaves, chillies, and toasted spices together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
6. Remove the ribs from the oven and serve piled on top of the fennel salad. Drizzle over any leftover glaze.