Cook a Soul Food Holiday Meal With Rosie Mayes

The creator of I Heart Recipes shares the roots behind her cooking and a recipe for delicious Blackberry-Glazed Ribs.

Cook a Soul Food Holiday Meal with Rosie Mayes
By Rosie Mayes

Rosie Mayes is the creator of  I Heart Recipes, a soul food recipe blog, and the author of the cookbooks I Heart Soul Food and Super Soul Food with Cousin Rosie, and has been featured in All Recipes, Thrillist, Cuisine Noir, and USA Today. Mayes grew up in the kitchen alongside her mother and aunts, learning to cook the Southern and soul-food favorites of her Louisiana-based family. When she’s not in the kitchen, the Seattle-based chef loves spending time with her family.

Growing up, it was my job to get dinner fixed while my mom was working. At first, I’d follow her recipes to a T, with no adding or taking away. But as I became a better cook, I started to experiment a little here and there. My mom would tell me, “No playin’ in the kitchen!” She’d tell me how the older generation didn’t want anything messed with in their classic dishes. “Leave those recipes alone and stick to the plan!” But I just couldn’t help myself! I started adding more spices and more flavor. I love my mom, she is incredible, but I can still hear her saying: “Cornbread is not sweet!” But there I went, making it all kinds of ME! (My sweet cornbread is incredible, I might add.) I’d add cheese, fresh corn, or herbs to come up with something not only delicious but different from the dishes we ate in our community. I’d dig into the freezer or pantry to see exactly what we had on hand, and I’d use it to make food that no one could touch, flavor-wise. That was the beginning of my personal style and my culinary journey. I took my food education from my family, then mixed it with who I was as a cook and a woman.

Over the last few years in this cooking game, I’ve learned that I love seasonings and spices, quality ingredients, and freshness. In this book, you will see fresh herbs, seasoning blends, and spices used in unexpected ways. Say goodbye to simply using salt for a flavor boost! In our community, it’s no secret we deal with hypertension and blood sugar issues. Just because a recipe calls for a certain amount of salt, it doesn’t mean you have to add that much. Feel free to cut back and add flavor in other ways. We need not be afraid to use fresh herbs, pick up salt-free seasonings, and even add fresh lemon juice to dishes. This goes a long way in making soulfully delicious dishes.

Tradition has this way of bringing back the good things about the past and opening our hearts to welcome the future. I know that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Tables full of dishes that bring back and honor those lean times are what I’m all about — I am going to find a way to make something out of nothing and move on. You are going to cry happy tears after trying my blackberry-glazed ribs! Yes, I said blackberry and ribs, and I can’t wait for you to get to it! I want you to make these dishes for your family and to use them as inspiration to do your own thing in the kitchen. Spice up that same ol’ recipe, use the cuts of meat you like, and see what happens. Spoiler alert: I’ve seen how it goes — it’s pretty good.

Blackberry-Glazed Ribs

I love ribs! I like them grilled, baked, smothered, and glazed. I love sweet and sticky glaze on my pork ribs, so it’s no wonder why these blackberry-glazed ribs are one of my favorites. The glaze is a combination of blackberries, brown sugar, and a few pantry staples. The sweet, fruity glaze is simply amazing on ribs — and also tastes great on chicken!

I always have blackberries on hand and in my freezer. It feels like we have blackberry bushes on every block. There are so many in the Pacific Northwest. They freeze well, and when you miss summertime, it’s easy to thaw some out for these ribs! If you don’t live in the Northwest and they are harder to come by, check out the freezer section at your local grocery store.

 Michael Kartes1
Michael Kartes

Makes 8 Servings

For the ribs:
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
2½ teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 pounds pork ribs, membranes removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the blackberry glaze:
6 ounces fresh blackberries
½ cup barbecue sauce of your choice
½ cup blackberry jam
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, combine the seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic salt, paprika, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Stir well, then set to the side.
  • Place the ribs on a flat surface and drizzle with the olive oil. Rub the oil all over the ribs. Next, generously season the ribs with the seasoning mixture, making sure to get both sides.
  • Place the ribs in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet, cover with foil, and bake for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, make the blackberry glaze. Combine all the glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mash the blackberries and cook until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set to the side.
  • Remove the baking dish from the oven and pull off the foil. Heavily brush the blackberry glaze on both sides of the ribs.
  • Bake the ribs, uncovered, for 30 more minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven and let cool. Serve with cornbread and greens, or any of your favorite sides.

Excerpted from Super Soul Food with Cousin Rosie by Rosie Mayes. Copyright © 2022 by Rosie Mayes. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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