I’ve mentioned the new book Smoke & Spice by Valerie Aikman-Smith in a previous post. I enjoy the book’s presentation with its focus on sauces and seasonings rather than the meat. Everyone secretly eats BBQ for the sauce. Yes, yes you do. Don’t deny the truth here. I’m not asking for a confession or entrance into a 12-step program. I’m just acting you to make these ribs.
As a matter of face, th subtitle of this BBQ gem reveals its secret intent: Recipes for Seasonings, Rubs, Marinades, Brines, Glazes, & Butters. So, there is no guilt in indulging on the sauce.
Essentially, this tight little volume holds a wealthy of valuable information: new, distinctive recipes and cooking techniques that will give better BBQ and grilling results.
We made these pork ribs last weekend, expecting to have leftovers for the next day. Alas, no leftovers. With two racks of ribs, we fed four people. We made 4 times the sauce or glaze recipe below. Four times.
The sauce is bourbon-based and, frankly, when we taste-tested it before using on the meat, we panicked just a tad. The taste was, in a word, alcoholic. So we did make an adjustment and added ¾ cup of regular old ketchup. That did take down the alcohol tone just enough to make us comfortable.
Then Suzen had an idea. With the sauce reserved for basting, she took it all, put it in a saucepan, and reduced it down about ⅓. What had then was a very sticky sauce, full of smokey flavor and with no hint of alcohol. We realized that our ribs, when cooking, were going to automatically take care of the alcohol, so adding that ketchup was really not necessary. But, it all came out fine, as the lack of leftovers will attest.
You can find good ribs in many places. The Big Box stores actually sell packages of meat now that are excellent. You may still have the luxury of having a neighborhood butcher. Upstate, we drive 20 miles to the Smokehouse of the Catskills, a German-themed business with ribs that delight.
Sticky Smokey BBQ Ribs
Yield: serves 4
- 2 racks baby back pork ribs
- 4 quantities of Hogwild Bourbon Glaze [See the recipe below]
Wash the ribs under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Put the ribs in a ceramic baking dish and pour enough of the Hogwild Bourbon glaze to thoroughly cover — not just lightly coat — the ribs. Turn the ribs over once or twice to make sure the glaze is everywhere. [Yes, everywhere will include your hands and possibly your white shirt; this is a messy dish.] You will have some glaze left over, which you can reheat and serve when the ribs come to the table. The glaze is also excellent on a baked potato or sweet potato.
Cover and refrigerate, ideally overnight. To be honest, Suzen and I made these ribs on a short time budget: we made the glaze, covered the ribs, and popped them into a preheated oven. It was just fine.
If you do refrigerate, then prior to cooking, remove the ribs from refrigerator. Take off the foil or plastic wrap, and let the ribs come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Yes, this will low heat for a long time.
Stir the glaze and respoon over the ribs. Cover the dish with foil and cook in the preheated oven for 2 ½ hours.
Remove the ribs from the oven and take off the foil. Baste the rips with the glaze, then return to the over for a final hour. Is that last hour mandatory? Some of the time is. You can check for temperature, but your nose is the best indicator. If you are edging in on the sauce beginning to burn, then pull the ribs. You will have reached a stage of early caramelization and the ribs are going to perfectly sticky.
When they are done to your satisfaction, remove from the oven. Let rest for 15 minutes. Serve with the reserved, reheated glaze.
Hogwild Bourbon Glaze
Yield: 1 cup [at least 3 cups are needed for the recipe above]
- ½ cup bourbon [such as Wild Turkey]
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
- 2 tablespoons chunky orange marmalade
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Sea salt and black pepper
Put all the ingredients and a blender or food processor and process until pureed and smooth.
Store the glaze in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Use with the recipe above, or marinate bacon, chops, ribs, and pork roasts in the glaze overnight. Simmer any glaze not used for marinating to reduce and then serve on the side. That picture below is the sauce reducing away. You’ll want to taste test it about every 30 seconds. Use a spoon, not a straw.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Macro Lens, F/5.0 for 1/50th second at ISO 3200 for both photos
Hero Food by Seamus Mullen has a very different perspective. For personal health reasons, seasoned chef Mullen decided to focus on 18 very healthy ingredients and then create wonderful recipes using them. Now his list of 18 is pretty diverse: olive oil, dried, beans, almonds, grains, anchovies, good eggs, good birds, sweet peas, parsley, berries, carrots, corn, stone fruit, good fish, squash, mushrooms, greens, and good meat.
By “good” he doesn’t mean avoiding spoiled. He means getting the specific varieties or cuts that can generate wonderful flavor.
This recipe, for a slow roasted lamb shoulder, immediately caught Suzen’s eye. With her cooking school in New York, Suzen tries to offer clients a true range of flavors. She offers, the clients decide, and we prepare a lot of chicken, beef, and salmon. Lamb is not a frequent client selection. It’s the Bambi thing. So, for a weekend feast, she was all over this lamb idea. Me, too. Visions of mint jelly did cross my mind.
And we made this dish. Uh, sort of.
Our butcher did not have lamb shoulder. He did have a lamb roast but at $45, Suzen held it in her hand and weighed her options. She put it back.
“What if,” she began.
Now, that phrase “what if” has led to many things in our civilization. Einstein said “what if” and came up with relativity theory, for example. Suzen was less dramatic.
She used pork shoulder instead of lamb. Equally delicious. You just need to accommodate the cooking time. In fact, it’s a pretty good indication that the recipes in Hero Food are robust when you can make this kind of change and yet achieve a perfect meal.
Lamb to pork was one change. The other was simpler. His recipe calls for Quick-Cured Lemons which requires a few days of curing. We were hungry that very day, and had no preserved lemons already on hand. So I Googled and found a 3-hour version of preserved lemons. I’ve already posted that blog just a few days ago.
That’s it. That’s all the changes we made. We had our cousin over for dinner and she beamed. “What is this?” Karen asked.
“Lamb,” I said. Karen stared at me.
“Pork, for god’s sake,” Suzen corrected me. Karen took another piece.
The diligence and care in Hero Food make it a book you want to look at and consider strongly for the sagging bookshelf of yours. There’s always room for one more. This should be the one.
Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Yield: serves 6
- 1 cup good-quality black olives, pits removed
- 6 slices Quick-Cured Lemons [see our earlier post on this blog for a solution here]
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- Generous handful mixed fresh herbs, like rosemary, oregano, sage, parsley, and/or thyme
- ½ cup good olive oil
- 1 lamb shoulder, roughly 4-6 pounds, and deboned [ask your butcher to do it]
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large mortar and pestle or in a food processor, work together the olives, cured lemons, garlic, herbs and olive oil in to a nice, rustic paste. If you are using a food processor, be careful not to overprocess it; you want the paste to be a bit coarse.
Open the lamb shoulder up on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to trim any connecting meat to form a nice square. Rub the lamb all over with the paste you’ve just made. Carefully roll the whole thing up so that it looks like a Yule log and truss it with butcher’s twine every inch and a half. Refrigerate the lamb for a few hours or overnight to allow all the wonderful flavors to come together.
Removed the lamb from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Place the lamb on a rack fitting in a roasting pan. Roast for 1 to 1 ½ hours. You’re looking for an internal temperature of about 148°F. I like to tie a few branches of rosemary together with string to make a nice herb brush and use that to baste the lamb with the dripping every 20 minutes or so. Once the lamb is done, set it aside in a warm place to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
While the lamb is resting, I like to wilt some bitter greens lake puntarelle or dandelion greens in a hot skillet with some of the drippings from the lamb pan. It only takes a couple of minutes and works really well with the lamb.
Carefully remove the butcher’s twine. With a sharp knife, carve the shoulder into thin slices. Serve the sliced shoulder family style with platter of the wilted greens.
Source: Hero Food by Seamus Mullen