The Gravy: In the Kitchen with Bounce Rapper Cheeky Blakk

“I learned to cook from my dad, I had three dads. I learned to cook also from my aunt and my grandmothers, but mainly my dad. I grew up learning how to cook different dishes, like the red beans and rice, the turkey necks, and my dad did more of the spicy stuff, like crawfish etouffée, the seafood boil, the crawfish boil, all that. My own crawfish boil is more like, well, it’s not too spicy, but it’s well enough juicy. I have my crawfish boiling pot out back. My stock is done with onions, garlic, oranges and celery. Nice.

From the grandmothers, it was the cornbread dressing, the gumbo. And from the aunts, it was the spaghetti pasta and meat sauces.

Cheeky Balkk, Elsa Hahne, photo, ribs

Cheeky Blakk knows there's no topping her pork ribs (photo: Elsa Hahne)

I grew up, we call it the CTC, cross the canal, in the Lower Ninth Ward, on Forstall and Burgundy, but I was born backatown, by Charbonnet and Tupelo. A lot of people don’t be doing big cooking like they did when I was a little girl, like on Sundays, no big feasts where everybody go by grandma’s house to eat dinner after church. Now, everybody’s either working or the family’s displaced. Professionally, other than being an entertainer, I’m also a nursing assistant—I work with the elderly, and they know I’m a great cook and an excellent worker.

I had some plans on opening a restaurant when I was living in Houston, after Katrina. It was going to be a soul food restaurant with daily meals, like Friday would be the fish fry, almost like a seafood platter; that was the thing I was going to put on after Katrina but the music thing took off so I put the restaurant on the back burner. I might still do it, somewhere down the line. I would need someone to run it for me, and I would go cook on special days.

Smothered potatoes and smoked sausage, I cook that on the regular. It’s like you’re taking potatoes and cutting them the circle way like chips, smothering them down. Also maybe some baked chicken, and sometimes I do some broccoli Normandy with smoked sausage, and I do fish on Fridays. I’m not a catfish eater too much, I’m a tilapia person; I may bake it or grill it, I like it deep fried, eat a piece of it—oh, it’s so good and juicy. I always loved trout, so when I was introduced to tilapia, I liked it. I’m not a big eater of pasta and rice, all that, because I’ve got to stay healthy, so I’m not heavy on starches.

Sometimes my son, Pimp, help me around the house, in the kitchen. He does have cooking skills because I taught him, so I like him in the kitchen with me around holiday time. I cook for Christmas. I had ham, stuffed bell peppers, my stuffed chicken, what else I had? Gumbo, baked macaroni and cheese, apple pie and my mom made my cake—she had a red velvet cake and a strawberry confetti cake. Everyone be sitting at the table, family, friends, fans. They love my cooking. ‘Why don’t you go into the cooking business?’ Just a jack of all trades. I feel comfortable cooking everything but chitlins. I can’t take the smell.”

Cheeky Blakk’s Pork Ribs

3-5 lbs. raw fresh pork ribs (about 2 slabs)
For parboiling pork ribs:
Just enough water to cover ribs in a tight pot with a lid
2 capfuls white vinegar
1 capful liquid crab boil
1 tablespoon meat tenderizer
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 cup regular BBQ sauce
1 cup Baumann’s Best Sweet & Tangy Honey BBQ Sauce
1 cup Baumann’s Best Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce
½ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Marcum Seasoned Meat Tenderizer
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder

Cut raw ribs into serving-sized pieces. Simmer ribs (covered) in water, vinegar, crab boil, meat tenderizer, onion and garlic for about 90 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the ribs cool slightly while you make the sauce by simply stirring all the ingredients together. Lift ribs from parboiling water (discard liquid) and place in a crock-pot. Cover ribs with sauce. Cook on high for 30 minutes, then turn heat down low and simmer for 1 hour.

Serve ribs with a side salad with romaine, slivers of red onion, fresh strawberry slices, grated carrot, pieces of fresh tangerine and a handful of honey roasted peanuts. “You gotta get your nuts on.”