bits and pieces

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sneaky, Smoky, Cowboy Ribs, the Tale of the Epic Ribs, and how to bbq

also pictured: Louise O'Shea Salad, recipe coming soon.

Ribs and I have had a friendly relationship since the summer of 2010. Sometime that summer I made legendary ribs which have been never again been recreated, despite my efforts. The main problem is that I don't really keep track of what goes into the ribs. It's sort of an 'everything-and-the-kitchen-sink' process. This time however, I decided to actually record things that go into my ribs. I don't think these will be AS good as the mystery ribs of yestersummer (as I don't have a whole whack of dried mexican chile peppers sadly) but hark! And listen to the tale of the legendary ribs.

One night, me and the mancandy were tasked with the feat of preparing a Medieval Feast to help woo a lady for mancandy's best friend. 'Medieval feast?' we thought.. what could this mean?! We decided this must imply a variety of hand-held foods - you know, the non-utensiled variety. 'Fried chicken!', thought we. 'Ribs!' thought we, 'corn on the cob!' thought we. I think that was about as far as we got. We set out to our local surly butcher to purchase the finest dragon (pork) ribs, and some dried ancho chiles as well as some Mystery Mexican Chiles (MMCs). Next was the mead (bourbon), finest in all the land. These ribs were brined, dry rubbed, marinated, and then smoked. The ribs were epic, worthy of the finest of knights and capable of wooing even the fairest of ladies. We smoked them so hard we broke the smoker. True story.

With our ribs a-ready, and our chicken a-basted, cob a corning, and pears ready for searing (note- I still do not know how to successfully bbq fruit) we waited for the fair lady to come through our door with wine and dessert.....

Needless to say, the skank bitch bailed on her feast and didn't show up until the next day, when she arrived with a store bought cheesecake she claimed to have baked (LIES). But the ribs got eaten and a few weeks later she copped a feel, which I guess was an apology (of sorts). The ribs more than made up for this brazen wench's deception. People got ribs, I got praise, and she ended up working at Quiznos.  A happy end for all.

Unfortunately, I have never since been able to recreate these puppies. BUT I try, again, and again, and again. Earlier this year we had a Ribmageddon themed family dinner. I find the rib process very fun. This is my latest attempt.

First and foremost, this is a ' lengthy ' process. There isn't actually a lot of hands on time, just a lot of waiting for your ribs. Below you will find the process, recipe for 2 kinds of ribs, and how to BBQ soft falling off the bone ribs.

Step One: Brine your ribs. You will have to concoct a brine. Despite my tentative vegetarian status, I am a firm believer in brining meats. Earlier this year I brined a chicken to great, glorious, Mediterranean success.

Step Two: Create your rub/marinade/both. This time I have elected to do 1 rack marinated, 1 rack dry rubbed. Then rub/marinate your ribs for another 2 - 24 hours.

Step Three: Cook. Our ribs are currently at home being smoked on the BBQ on looooooow heate for a loooong time. The slower you cook them the more fall-off-the-bone they'll be. If you elect to smoke them, the flavour of the BBQ chips can add a nice new flavour profile. If you just grill them, make sure you baste them with your marinade.

First things first - I'll eat your brains. Secondly, remember that here we did TWO kinds of ribs. One was only dry rubbed, and the other was marinated + basted. Do whichever! Apparently the basted ones were better, but my domestic partner likes wet sloppy ribs better anyways. So I would recommend you do either one or get two racks of ribs and do each. This recipe is enough for 1 rack of dry ribs and 1 rack of wet. You are not supposed to brine, rub, and then marinate and baste your ribs. I have no idea what would happen. I imagine you would have a 1/2 inch coating of rub-baste-goo on your ribs. It might be good. Lemme know. TO THE RIB-POCALYPSE!

ingredients for the brine: 
5 cups of water
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup balsamic
1/2 cup brandy/whiskey/booze (I used brandy as I still had some left over from the mussels)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
half a lime, cut in half and juiced, thrown into the brine whole
1 tbsp cayenne
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp red chili flakes
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder

things you will need for this stage: 
a large bowl/BIG tupperware for your ribs to brine in 

  1. First, assemble your ribs. If you need to cut them to make them fit into your bowl/container, do it now. Then wash your hands. 
  2. Directly in your giant container, add all the ingredients. Stir together. Add ribs, cover and leave for 24 hours. 

ingredients for the rub:
3 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1.5 tbsp cayenne
1/4 tbsp garlic
1/4 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp onion
1 tbsp salt/kosher salt/seasoned salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cayenne seasoning (I had some lying around)
2 tbsp old bay seasoning (I love old bay)

things you will need:
a bag to keep your rubbed ribs in OR you can wrap them in saran securely. this is a bit messier.
  1. combine all of your rub ingredient. Rub on your ribs. Put back in the fridge for 6-24 hours.

ingredients for the marinade/sauce: 
1 can of chipotle peppers with sauce (you can buy these little wee cans in the mexican section of a grocery store)
2 tsp habanero chile sauce (ditto)
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 shot of brandy (bourbon, whiskey, etc would work well and probably better)
1 tsp liquid smoke (so awesome for bbqing)
a splash of balsamic
a big splash of water
4 heaping tsp tomato paste
a pinch of cilantro
1 green onion, diced
  1. Combine all ingredients. If you have a food processor, pulse a few times to combine. If not, just stir really well.
  2. Take half a cup out of your sauce, cover and refrigerate the remaining marinade/sauce. 
  3. With the half cup you reserved, cover your second rack of ribs in this delicious sauce. Keep the ribs in a bag/cover securely with saran wrap. Refrigerate for 6 - 24 hours.
other things you will need:
a bbq (you can also do these in an oven - covered in tinfoil, 225 F heat, sloooow cooked all day until the meat has separated from the bone)
wood chips (we have used applewood, jack daniels, hickory, mesquite, etc... this time we used 'crown royale' chips)
a basting brush comes in handy. as do tongs.
  1. Soak your chips for 1 hour in water or beer. Preheat your BBQ to 200 - 225 F.
  2. You have to grill your ribs over indirect heat. This means having half your grill on, and having your meat on the OFF side so they are not exposed to an open flame. 
  3. Put your smoke box on the direct heat after you have filled it with wood chips. A pan of wood chips also works (disposable). 
  4. Have a tray of water (if you have a grill with two levels), have this tray on the second level. This keeps things moist. Keep in mind, this will also mean you have to open your BBQ cautiously, lest your water pour out over your ribs. You may have to refill this once or twice. 
  5. Put your ribs meat + fat side facing up. You cook both of your ribs this way - dry and wet. In terms of basting, baste your wet ribs with your remaining sauce ever two to three hours. Don't over baste - as this will over power your ribs and make them stick and grosssssss.
  6. My lovely boyfriend smoked these for 7 - 8 hour. He says for best results - make a day of it. He is retired this winter and the master of all things bbq. If you HAVE to, you can turn the heat up at the end, however, your ribs won't be as soft, falling-apart-y, and succulent. Time is your best friend in this scenario.
  7. You know your ribs are done when the bone separates from the meat. Serve these along with some melt in your mouth cornbread (sprinkling a little lemon zest on top of cornbread is a REVELATION) and some mexican rice. The rating on the ribs: "10/10, blew my mind, so good, up the butt" (a Taylor Roadhouse original).
Your glorious goal: ribs (dry + wet) with cornbread + mexican rice. 10/10

1 comment:

  1. ok-doke. I'll give it a shot when the weather enters the plus zone. Hmm. No BBQ or smoker. Guess I'll go buy YET ANOTHER BBQ. Where were you when we had a fab BBQ? Oh were a hot-dog eating child. But I still love you.