Saturday, June 2, 2012

Memorial Day RibOThon

Memorial Day Rib-O-Thon 2012

At the Winslow’s the order of the day was to cook a rib-centric feast for a mini-crowd: C and D, me, Robert, Jules, Havalah and the kids, Loretta, and Phillip. Prep started the day before with the assemblage of the rub. The most fun part was when Diane took me to HEB with her (my first time outdoors since the knee replacement) where I got to terrorize the masses on one of those electric cart shopping basket units. They make a cool beeping sound when you back up, and it’s hard to estimate how many end-cap displays almost met their death. 

BBQ Spice Rub:
½  cup kosher salt
1  teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons chipotle powder
3 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin

Usually this rub would also have include two or three tablespoons or so of brown sugar, but since it has a tendency to caramelize, burn, and get bitter on the grill, it was omitted.

The BBQ sauce was made, using some of this rub, but altered slightly.

BBQ Sauce:
2 slices thick bacon, minced finely
9 cloves garlic, minced          
4 cups ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used 1 tbl Kikkoman Stir Fry Sauce; couldn’t find the soy)
4 tablespoons molasses
4 tablespoons Zatarain’s Creole mustard
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used some Sgt. Pepper’s that Chris had on-hand)
2 tablespoons altered BBQ spice rub (see Note)
2 tablespoons chipotle powder
Note: the “altered” BBQ sauce rub is simply the above rub recipe made without the salt
Sauté the bacon over low heat until lightly browned, add the garlic, cook for 45 seconds, and add all other ingredients. Heat slowly while stirring until flavors meld.

I also made my version of Bucky’s Sweet Spicy Pickles by taking a big jar of Vlassic whole dills and a big can of HEB whole pickled jalapeños, cutting them into roughly 2-inch chunks, combining both pickling liquids, adding a dozen smashed cloves of garlic, and a cup and a half of a brown sugar syrup (1 and 2/3 cup of brown sugar plus 1 cup boiling water). Pack it all together, and let it sit for a day. If you want to get fancy you can add some dry-toasted whole mustard and coriander seed, some turmeric and bay leaf. I wasn’t feeling very fancy. These are spicy as hell, so if you’re a weenie, use less jalapeños.

We had some beef short ribs to do, so I coated the meaty parts in the rub, and browned them off in their own fat. Once browned I placed them in a roasting pan, and made a braising liquid from a Shiner Bock blended with an onion, a half cup of the BBQ sauce, and a wad of garlic cloves. I poured that over the top, covered them with foil, and started cooking them at 275° for 1½ hours, then moved it to 200° for another 2 hours.  I pulled off the foil and let them brown on high for 20 minutes or so. They were good, but could have benefited from another 45 minutes or so at 200° to make them a little more gelatinous; still, the flavor was great and the texture wasn't half bad.


Chris had some St. Louis ribs and country-style ribs to do on the smoker, so they got a healthy dose of the BBQ rub about an hour and a half before hitting the fire. He also grilled a big batch of jalapeño sausage. All the meats were superb.

I had made a pot of lentils, using a big ole ham bone that Diane had parked in the freezer earlier. The bean pot also got onion, celery, carrot, garlic, a little sea salt, and a light sprinkling of thyme. We pulled the meat off the bone and added it to the pot. They were delicious. Not that many people seem to be hep to lentils: they cook in less than an hour and require no soaking, they are very high in nutrients and protein, and are easy to digest. Oh, and they taste excellent too!

The store had some beautiful bicolor sweet corn for a ridiculously low price, so I cleaned a dozen ears and Chris grilled them on the fire until they were caramelized just right. Before grilling he slathered them with some chipotle butter that I threw together. Once grilled I cut the kernels off the cob so that valuable plate space wouldn’t be taken up by a big ungainly cob. A big golden bowl of grilled sweet summery goodness.

I made a big bowl of Asian coleslaw with a sweet-sour apple cider vinegar-based dressing, with garlic and ginger, and flavored the dressing with fresh curry leaves (excellent and highly recommended!). Once the sesame seeds were dry-toasted, they got sprinkled liberally throughout.  The acidity of the slaw worked perfectly with the richness of the meat.

Lastly, I made a smashed roasted new potato salad that I dressed in kind of a warm German potato salad dressing style, using lots of browned crispy bacon, vinegar, sugar, grainy mustard, chives, paprika, and black pepper.

Robert brought a couple of nice bottles of wine, a Byron Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir and an old vine zin-heavy meritage, and Loretta brought some Woodbridge Cabernet and made a slammin’ fresh peach cobbler that all enjoyed (great later on with some Blue Bell Vanilla). We groaned as we sat around and watched the first episode of the Hatfields-McCoys mini-series on the History Channel.  

Note BBQ sauce in bowl foreground left....

Good friends, good times and good eats, but way too early for predictably excessive summer temps.

Mick Vann ©



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