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A southern Super Bowl feast

Park yourself in front of the TV with barbecue ribs, beans, cornbread and coleslaw
A dinner of sticky ribs, creamy coleslaw, homemade pickles, cornbread and saucy beans is perfect for watching the Super Bowl this Sunday.

I watch the Super Bowl every year, and every year I have to make a big decision: what to eat during the game.

This year, I decided to create a banquet of recipes inspired by meals I've had at barbecue joints in the U.S. — places where you pick up a serving tray, line up at a counter, order your meat and pick side dishes to go with it.

That kind of meal, I thought, would fit nicely on a TV tray and be something a group of football fans could really dig into.

I chose pork ribs, which would typically be on a barbecue-joint menu. Mine aren't slowly smoked for hours, since I don't have the equipment. Instead, they're baked in an oven.

Once they're tender and cooled a bit, I cut the ribs into easy-to-eat-in-front-of-the-TV, single-bone pieces.

They're then glazed in a hot oven with a stick-to-your-fingers barbecue sauce.

If you want to partially prepare the ribs several hours before they're needed, cool them to room temperature once they're cut into single-bone pieces, and refrigerate until they're needed.

You could also make the sauce and keep that refrigerated.

When you're ready to serve the ribs, simply sauce and finish baking as described in the recipe, adding a few minutes to the cooking time, as you'll be starting from cold.

One side dish I chose to serve with the ribs was saucy beans that you cook on the stovetop, not the oven, where the ribs will be cooking.

They taste like baked beans, but cook more quickly and, like the ribs, could be made partially in advance.

After cooking the bacon, onions and garlic, and mixing in the sauce mixture and beans, don't simmer the beans. Instead, remove the pot from the stove and refrigerate the beans once they've cooled to room temperature.

When it's getting close to serving time, put them back on the stove and simmer as described in the recipe.

The other classic side dishes I served were coleslaw, cornbread and pickles, all of which could be made partially or entirely in advance.

The cornbread could be baked in the morning, cooled and wrapped, then sliced and served when needed.

You could also warm wedges of the cornbread by putting them in a baking pan and placing it in a hot oven for a few minutes, right after the ribs come out.

For the coleslaw, you could prepare the vegetables, refrigerate them, then dress the salad just before needed.

For my homemade zucchini pickles, simply refrigerate and marinate in a brine overnight.

Get them marinating the day before the game and you'll have a sweet-and sour-tasting pickle ready to serve with the ribs.

Eric Akis is the author of the best-selling Everyone Can Cook series of cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.


Sticky, Tender and Succulent Pork Back Ribs

Ribs slow-baked until tender, cut into easy-to-eat, single-bone pieces, and then richly sauced and baked again until marvelously glazed.

Preparation time:

30 minutes

Cooking time:

2 hours 30 minutes

Makes: 6 (3/4 rack) or 8 (1/2 rack) servings

4 full racks meaty pork back ribs, each cut in half widthwise

• salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1 (12 oz./375 mL) bottle lager beer

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

3 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp soy sauce

• hot chili sauce, to taste

1/4 cup orange juice

1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Preheat the oven to

300 F. Line two shallow-sided baking pans (mine were 12 x 18 inches) with parchment paper. Place four half racks of ribs in each pan, setting them meaty side up in a single layer. Sprinkle and rub ribs with salt, pepper and paprika. Pour half bottle of beer and 1/2 cup orange juice into the bottom of each pan. Cover the ribs with foil and bake 2 hours, until quite tender but still holding their shape.

Uncover the ribs and let cool 15 minutes. When the ribs have cooled 15 minutes, lift a 1/2 rack of ribs from the pan and set on a cutting board. Cut the rack into single-bone pieces and set, meaty side up, back on the baking pan it came from. Repeat with the remaining ribs.

Increase oven temperature to 425 F. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.

Brush the ribs with half the sauce mixture. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes, brush with remaining sauce mixture, then bake 15 minutes more. Divide the ribs among serving dishes and enjoy.

Stovetop Beans with Beer and Bacon

This quick-cooking version of beans has a saucy, baked-bean taste and texture, but no baking is required.

Preparation time:

15 minutes

Cooking time:

35 to 40 minutes

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

6 slices Canadian bacon (about 1/3 lb./150 grams), cut into small cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dark ale or lager beer

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp cooking molasses

2 Tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

• splash or 2 hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

3 (19 oz.) cans white kidney beans, drained well, gently rinsed with cold water, and drained well again

Place the oil in a medium to large, heavy-bottomed pot (mine was 9 inches wide, and 6 inches tall) set over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, bacon and garlic and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except beans, and mix until well combined. Gently mix in the beans. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat to maintain that gentle simmer. Partially cover the beans (steam needs to escape), and simmer 30 to 35 minutes, or until the beans are rich and flavourful and the sauce mixture has thickened. Spoon the beans into serving dishes and enjoy.

Skillet Cornbread with Buttermilk, Cheddar and Green Onion

This moist and inviting cornbread will taste great with the ribs and beans. If you really like cornbread, double the recipe and make two rounds of it.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes: 12 to 16 wedges of cornbread

• vegetable oil spray or soft butter for greasing

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1⁄2 tsp salt

1 cup grated old cheddar cheese (about 125 grams)

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 large egg

1 1⁄4 cups buttermilk

1⁄4 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Thoroughly grease a

10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof non-stick skillet with the oil spray or butter.

Place the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine. Stir in the cheese and green onion.

Place the egg into a second bowl and beat until the yolk and white are well blended. Mix in the buttermilk and melted butter. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared skillet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cornbread springs back when touched gently in the centre.

Cool the cornbread on baking rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the outer edges of the pan. Set a cutting board over the cornbread. Hold on to the top of the cutting board and bottom of the skillet, and invert both so that the cornbread slides out onto the cutting board. Cut the cornbread in wedges and enjoy.

Creamy Coleslaw

Classic, creamy, cabbage-based coleslaw flecked with carrot, celery, green onion and bell pepper.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: None

Makes: 8 servings

1⁄3 cup mayonnaise, or to taste

2 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 tsp granulated sugar

• salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 cups thinly shredded green cabbage (about 1⁄2 small to medium head)

1 small carrot, grated

1 medium celery rib, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 to 3 green onions, thinly sliced

1⁄2 medium red bell pepper, diced

Combine the first four ingredients in a salad bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, toss to combine and serve.

Homemade Zucchini Pickles

No canning required, easy-to-make pickles that require an overnight soak in the refrigerator to infuse them with a sweet and tangy flavour.

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus overnight marinating time

Cooking time: a few minutes

Makes: About 8 servings

1 cup cider vinegar

1⁄3 cup granulated sugar

1⁄2 tsp salt

4 tsp whole-grain Dijon mustard (see Note)

1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

• coarsely ground black pepper to taste

4 cups sliced (1/4-inch thick) zucchini (see Note)

Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot. Set over medium heat and heat the mixture a few minutes, just until the sugar and salt have dissolved into the vinegar. Cool to room temperature and then mix in the mustard, dill and pepper.

Layer the zucchini slices into a fairly narrow (mine was 41⁄2-inches wide),

4-cup capacity jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over the zucchini. Firmly push down on the zucchini to ensure all slices are at least partially submerged in the vinegar mixture (the top slices will sink as they marinate). Tightly seal the jar. Refrigerate and marinate zucchini overnight and then serve.

Note: Any leftover pickles will keep a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Whole-grain Dijon mustard, sometime called country-style, is sold alongside the regular smooth Dijon mustard at most supermarkets. Small zucchini are best for this recipe. The ones I used were about 7-inches long and 11⁄2-inches wide. I used 3 that size to get the 4 cups of sliced zucchini needed for this recipe.