"Barbecued" and "grilled" are two different things. Grilling is basically upside-down broiling. Nothing wrong with that but it's not barbecue, which is low and slow, in smoke.
Does low and slow sound like braising? Yes, it does, and it works the same way, turning connective tissue into gelatine, while rendering that fat to give juiciness and flavor. The line between barbecue and braise is further blurred since many say the best ribs are finished off in foil — a closed, moist environment. In other words, a braise.
While I am talking barbecue, I have another couple of religious points to make.
Pork: I love Texas and I love Texans, but I am sorry, pork is the meat that is made for the 'cue. Y'all can have all the beef brisket you want (and I'm eatin' it, don't get me wrong). Yankees, you can do up chicken. And I'm eatin' that too — and the hot links, too. But when the barbecuing is serious, it's pork. Pork is king of the 'cue.
Sauce is for after, or at least, then end of the cooking. Rub is for before. You can make a saucy rub. But barbecuing slathered in sauce means the smoke and meat can't be best friends. And the sauce can burn.
Just say no to baby backs. They're good, but spare ribs are so much better.
If you boil your ribs before hand, I will have to come over there and lecture you in person. Boiling removes flavor. It has to. That's how soup works.
Oven-baked ribs: Can you make spare ribs inside? In an oven? Can you smoke in an oven without ruining the house? Yes, you can. But I don't.
If you have favorite tips, I would love to hear them! Post in the Comments section.
Barbecued Pork Spare Ribs
Use spare ribs, not baby-backs. If you can get "Kansas City" or "St. Louis" cut, it will save you a little butchering but you will generally find full racks and make the cut yourself. That's a benefit — the cutting is easy and yields trimmings that make a great pork braise or stir fry. Smart and Final and Costco both sell two-packs of very nice full racks.
Allow 1/2-1 pound per person.
2 racks pork spare ribs, see note wood chips and chunks, for smoking Paste 6 tablespoons mustard 2 tablespoons ketchup 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
Rub 1 tablespoon paprika 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 tablespoons brown sugar 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt 2 teaspoons ground pepper Braising Liquid 1 c. Wine, beer, apple juice 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 tablespoon brown sugar The day before, or the morning of:
1. Mix together ketchup, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a second bowl, to form a rub.
3. Prepare your workstation for meat management. Place meat on a sheet pan or cutting board. Have a sharp knife and paper towels handy.
4. Trim the spare ribs to create a St. Louis (also called Kansas City) cut. This may sound difficult but don't worry — you don't have to get it exactly right. You can skip any or all of this and have great ribs. There are detailed videos and instructions on the Internet (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_MGM_RRTUQ).
Here are the steps:
4.1 Place ribs meat side down so you can see the ribs. A flap of skin partly conceals the ribs. Remove it.
4.2 Each rib is actually composed of two bones, joined by cartilage. Feel for the joint. You'll also be able to see it by bending the rack, since the joint is flexible (though quite stiff). Cut through all these joints, separating the rib section from the top.
4.3 You can cut off the smallest ribs or leave them. Trim excess fat.
4.4 Save the pieces you removed (but discard fat and the membrane). From two full rib racks, you will get about 1-1/2 pounds of flap meat, suitable for stir fry, fajitas, or braising, and 1-3/4 pounds of the top rib section, with some bones, which is a great braising cut.
5. Check the ribs to see if the slivery membrane has been removed from the rib side. If not, remove it by loosening a corner with a knife, grabbing it with a paper towel, and stripping it away. If you can't get it off, slit it at each rib and between each rib.
6. Coat the ribs with the ketchup, mustard, and garlic mix. Then sprinkle on the rub.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 4-24 hours.
About five hours before you plan to eat:
8. Optional: Soak wood chips in water for an hour or more. (I don't soak them anymore. It makes no difference and makes the process less predictable.)
9. Set up your grill for smoking. The following is what I do with a Weber gas grill — you'll need to adapt it to your setup.
Remove one grate. Loosely wrap wood chunks and chips in foil, punch many holes. Put pack on the bars, above the rear burner. Put a foil pan of water elsewhere on the bars, so it will generate moisture. Put grills back in place:
Start grill, heat on high for 10-15 minutes, then turn front and center burners off, back burner between medium and low. Add ribs.
9. Check every 20-30 minutes. You want the inside temperature to be 225-275 degrees F with steady smoke. A wireless thermometers is handy. If the temperature increases suddenly, it means the wood chunks have caught fire. Not a major issue. Use a spray bottle to calm things down. You may need to add more wood toward the end of the time.
10. Cook until meat begins to loosen from bones, about 2 hours. Then transfer the ribs to either a sheet pan or a double layer of heavy duty foil. Add 1 cup liquid (apple juice, wine, beer, or water). Cover with foil to make a tight package. This is the braising step.
11. Continue to cook until meat reaches 180 internal and meat is very tender and close to, but quite, falling off the bones, another hour.
12. Let rest 10-20 minutes.
13. Optional: You can sauce the ribs and put them back on the grill, to caramelize. Serve with warm barbecue sauce on the side.
Recipe is melded from many sources, especially Cook's Illustrated, Jan 2006 and July 1994; and Alton Brown's oven-braised Baby Backs, and the amazing (really) Amazing Ribs site.
The Meyer lemon tree is being good to us again so today will be Lemon Day!
I started by digging out the citrus juicer attachment that came with the KitchenAid food processor. I don't think I have used it before.
I was surprised — it works wonderfully! Bzzzzt — and dat lemon done been squozed! I have about two quarts of lemon juice.
So, what am I making? I started with the lemon sorbet recipe. This is a favorite and one I have refined to perfection. I made a double batch. I will freeze half tonight and save the rest for next week. When making ice cream or sorbet at home, it's best to freeze it as you need it because without the stabilizers in commercial products, ice crystals for over time. My recipe has a little vodka to prevent ice crystals but still better to freeze it fresh.
Next, I will make a concentrate for lemonade. I say "will" because I just discovered I am out of sugar! The concentrate is basically sugar syrup and lemon juice. This is a new recipe — I plan to juggle the amounts and will post my final result. If you have a favorite lemonade recipe, please comment!
The third item in this Lemony Trifecta will be Lemontinis: A really great lemon martini recipe from Peter Harman. How simple is this: equal parts of lemon juice, vodka, and simple syrup (which is 50-50 sugar and water, heated to dissolve, then kept in the refrigerator).
Fast, easy, and delectable. I love roasting vegetables. The dry heat concentrates flavors by removing water and browning at the same time. The action takes place in the oven, so there;s little cleanup (I'll even tell you how to avoid dirtying a bowl).
A previous post told about roasting squash and beets. Last night it was potatoes and brussels sprouts. I especially love brussels sprouts this way. Many people dislike sprouts because of the stinky state they reach when overcooked. Roasting gives just the right doneness: Bright and nutty, tender but not mushy.
It's so easy: Wash and trim your vegetables, toss in a bag with olive oil and seasonings, toss (that's how you avoid dirtying a bowl). Dump it all onto a sheet pan in a hot oven. That's pretty much it! Here's the recipe but it's easy to adapt to many, many other vegetables.
Roasted Sprouts and Potatoes Serves 4
1 pound brussels sprouts (about 12) 1-2 pounds of small potatoes, or cut larger potatoes to roughly golf ball size 1/4 cup olive oil 1 tablespoon of kosher salt (or adjust to taste) Seasonings of your choice (see note)
Note: For seasonings, you can use almost anything, fresh or dried. Last night, I used about a teaspoon each of dried dill, sage, and garlic powder. Blends like Old Bay work well. If you use blends that contain salt, omit the salt listed in the recipe.
Set over to 475 degrees.
Trim and wash vegetables. Shake to remove excess water. Cut vegetable to roughly the same size. It's best to halve everything so they have a flat side which can brown against the pan. In this case, I halved the sprouts and the potatoes.
Leak-test a plastic bag by inflating, pinching closed, and squeezing to make sure there are no leaks. Add all the ingredients to the bag, inflate the bag, squeeze closed, and shake gently over the sink (just in case the bag breaks) until all ingredients are well combined. The vegetables should be glossy but not dripping wet with oil. Add more oil, if needed and re-shake.
Dump it all onto a rimmed sheet pan and turn all the pieces so the cut side is down, against the pan. Place in oven and lower heat to 425.
Check after 15 minutes, then again every 5-10 minutes. Do not stir! The cut side will brown much better if allowed to stay in place, against the pan. They will stick to the pan at first but as they brown, they will release from the pan. Trust me. You want each item to be very slightly underdone. Sprouts should be bright green, tender but not soft. Potatoes should be browned on the bottom, soft and creamy inside and just starting to shrivel. If some items are done ahead of others, remove to the serving bowl and place pan back in oven.
When all are done, transfer them back to the pan and cover with foil, or with a second pan. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with a little more kosher salt and serve.
Sometimes inspiration comes from the ingredients. Here in Northern California, we're seeing fresh peas and I went home with snow peas and shelled peas.
In the past, I haven't been a big fan of fresh shelled peas. They are one of the few vegetables that I think are better frozen than fresh, because sugar turns to starch so quickly. But if you think of them as a different kind of bean, they become an interesting vegetable.
What is I combined these two wonderful pea purchases?
Please do click on this shot. You have to see the peas in their full glory!
Preparation could scarcely have been easier. Twist off the stem end of each pod and wash the peas and the pods. Add oil to a pan with some finely chopped green onions, and cook until they begin to soften. Add some salt, pepper, a teaspoon of sugar, and whatever herbs strike your fancy. I used 1/2 teaspoon of sage.
Cook with occasional stirring until pods are bright green, then another minute.
It was very good, very different. I want to experiment now with cooking the peas a bit longer, perhaps steaming them first, but already we have a winning combination .
Serious Eats Serious Eats is another blog which plants its stake, and its steak, in the fertile land where food meets science. There is lots of great material here, much of it by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, or Kenji. If you like FeedMe, you will like Serious Eats.
Cooking for Engineers What do you get when you apply the engineer's mind to the kitchen? Straightforward, practical recipes and tips and a passion for simplifying without sacrificing quality.