Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rib fix

Okay, again I'll apologize from the outset that I am not a photo food blogger. There are no pictures of the ribs we enjoyed so much last night. Only fond memories in blog form.

I've been craving ribs since the weather turned nice. Even went to a "pasta and rib place" nearby. They really should not claim to be a rib place at all. They burned them. Though they burned the onion rings too, so really I shouldn't have expected much.

After that disappointment I knew what I had to do. Buy my own ribs. Though that in itself proved to be a little frustrating. First, there were ice crystals on the meat. They explained that they are shipped to them on ice and that their cooler sometimes goes below zero. But that the ribs weren't frozen. Um, yeah, they were. So I didn't buy more to freeze for later.

And maybe I need to learn butcher-speak, but when the woman behind the counter asked if I wanted the long racks cut in half I expected them to be cut down so that they would fit better on a grill. Instead they left the length and cut them to create ridiculously narrow racks of tiny ribs. I've never seen that done. Maybe it would work for appetizers? I don't know. So I had to endure their lecture on "cut in half" versus "cut across" before they would cut two new racks in a way that actually made some sense to me. Note to self, maybe look at going elsewhere for ribs.

Anyway, after all that I set about making a good rub for them. I have a book by Steven Raichlen that is all about rubs, bastes, sauces and such. Since I was also going to be smoking a couple of rump roasts for later use, I chose a rub with no sugar in it, opting to mop the ribs with a mix of a Lambic beer with cherry and some cola for sweetness. I let them sit for a few hours and soaked a mix of maple and apple woods.

I have a gas grill, not a smoker. So I use the indirect heat method with a smoker box that I bought. It's a metal box with holes in the lid that sits right on the bottom of the barbecue. I use two parts wet wood chips to one part dry. Once they got smoking I put the ribs on. I don't think the heat was high enough, though. Even with mopping they dried out a bit. Re-reading Mr. Raichlen's notes it seems that a slightly higher temp (up to 325F) for a bit less time would produce a better result. Duely noted for the next time.

Since we weren't going to have them that night I went ahead and wrapped them in foil and popped them into the fridge. I love that about ribs. They can be smoked ahead of time and reheated later.

I made a barbecue sauce (thanks again to Mr. Raichlen for the inspiration) from cola, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, a little steak sauce, honey, molasses, garlic and onion powders and some allspice. The recipe called for liquid smoke, but I have none. So I used some smoked paprika. Hot smoked paprika. It made for a delicious sauce that was too spicy for the kids. Bummer. I cut it with some store bought stuff that is pretty good in a pinch (President's Choice Smokin' Stampede Chipotle Beer, I believe it's called) and all was fine. The ribs glazed up beautifully and we tucked in to a meal that served to both satisfy my craving and whet my appetite for more. I will definitely work on improving this recipe as the summer goes on!

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