Sometimes when I have you over for a meal, I won't plate your food, I'll just bring the whole damn messy butcher's block to you. That is the ultimate rustic, comfort, family-style way to enjoy a meal in a Freehand Kitchen. FHKing fun I say!
In this case, it's a composed array of Sweet and Spicy Chinese Baby Back Ribs with hearty veggie fixings. Ribs dry-rubbed overnight with powders of Chinese five-spice, cayenne, garlic, onion, mustard, and ginger as well as brown sugar, salt and white pepper. Braised for a few hours in chicken stock and star anise, then broiled with a honey-blood orange glaze of soy, sherry, garlic, and ginger for a nice crust. We also have some caramelized bacon, cabbage and red onion, sesame roasted cauliflower steaks, and house-pickled red jalapeños.
Did I have a recipe to make this? Nope. Did I have a rack of ribs, some spices in the pantry, some veggies on hand, some blood oranges and honey, some sesame oil, vinegar and sugar? Sure did. And you know from experimenting, intuition, and taste that the spice rub should be almost equal parts everything except for the strongest of the bunch - go a little lighter on the cayenne and 5-spice, for example. Go a little heavier on the sugar I say. You should be able to pickle anything, you just need to know that you cut the vinegar with water and sugar with a 2-1-1 ratio , and small part salt.
You also know that low-and-slow in a braise will yield a tender result, and that a final sear on the grill or under the broiler with offer quick caramelization and crust.
All you need to unlock your creativity in the Freehand Kitchen is to always be learning, experimenting, tasting to understand techniques, flavors, ingredients and how they behave with one-another. When you do that you create kitchen confidence, and the sky's the limit on what you can create. This is how chef's cook, they don't follow recipes, they follow their senses, their muscle memory, and their hearts to wherever their creativity leads them.