Caribbean-style pork loin ribs with roasted acorn squash. Served with curried cabbage and rice.

Growing up in Venezuela, I was exposed to Caribbean cuisine early and often. Especially on a cool day like today, I love visiting the Islands by cooking dishes full of soul like this.  The texture and flavor of the acorn squash compliments the ribs and brings a mild sweetness to the dish. The island flavors are right up my alley—spicy, bold, a little tangy, and a little sweet.

INGREDIENTS

Pork Loin Ribs

  • 3 lbs pork loin back rib rack (aka “baby back”)
  •  1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated brown or sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Curried cabbage and rice

  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely julienned
  • 1 ½ cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine

Acorn Squash

  • 1 2-pound acorn squash, seeded and cut lengthwise in ¾”-wide wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

See note below for optional dressing

PREPARATION

Pork Loin Back Ribs

Preheat to 400°F—Position rack in center of oven.

In a small bowl, combine first 8 ingredients; add grated onion (+ optional sauce) and mix to incorporate. Pour mixture over rib rack and distribute all over (I get my hands dirty here!). Cover tightly using heavy-duty aluminum foil (use two layers, if necessary) and set on a lined baking sheet. Roast ribs 45-50 minutes. Unwrap and leave on baking sheet meat side up; place back in the oven for 6-8 additional minutes. Cut into individual ribs.

 I like to let the rack marinating for at least an hour and, if I have the time, overnight in the refrigerator.

 Curried cabbage and rice

Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse rice well and drain. In a medium saucepan, combine rice, water, and salt; set on the stove at medium-high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest with the lid on for 10 minutes. (Rice can be made ahead of time and saved at room temperature)

While rice sets, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 3 minutes, stirring frequently; add shredded cabbage and sauté for a couple of minutes until cabbage starts to wilt. Add curry powder, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and mix to blend for 1 minute. Add white wine and deglaze the pan.  Fluff rice over pan and gently mix to incorporate with curried cabbage. Keep warm.

Acorn Squash

Adjust oven temperature to 450°F (keep rack in the center)

Combine olive oil, salt, and pepper on the bottom of a medium bowl. Add squash wedges and toss until coated; arrange on baking sheet or shallow tray. Roast for 25-30 minutes until wedges are tender and golden brown.

In a small bowl, whisk garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and olive oil. While squash is still warm, brush wedges with garlic mix and let rest until ready to serve.

  Serve 2-3 individual ribs on each plate along with the acorn squash and rice side dish. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Want to bring the acorn squash to a whole new level? Two words: garlic and lemon!

Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon grated garlic (pressed or shredded in microplane grater)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

How to incorporate into recipe

In a small bowl, whisk garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and olive oil. While squash is still warm, brush wedges with garlic mix. NOW it’s ready to be served!

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