Saturday, September 27, 2008

Farewell to Summer

Just because it is the end of summer does not mean it isn't hot anymore. In Arizona, it's always hot! But, I'm glad it will finally be cooling down, if even only by a few degrees. Our last summer barbecue included some delicious ribs. Now, we don't have a smoker, and our grill is gas (gasp!) so all you die-hard "real" barbecue fans should leave right now. But if you're open to new ideas, and don't have time to tend to smoked meat for 12-24 hours, this is a great recipe for tender, grilled barbecue ribs, just for you!

I believe I saw first saw Paula Deen from the Food Network make her ribs in the oven, but we love that caramelized crisp you get on your ribs when they are cooked over a flame, so we liked the idea of finishing them up on the grill.

Oven-Grilled Beef Ribs

  • 1 rack beef ribs (6-8 ribs per rack)

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1/2 T pepper
  • 1/2 T cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup AZ chili-sweet barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 275 F. Combine first 7 ingredients thoroughly. Rub all over ribs, paying special attention to the thick meaty side. Line a roasting pan with foil. Place ribs in pan. Cover/tent with foil and place in oven for 60-75 minutes, when done, take out of oven and let rest 5-10 minutes.
Place on grill over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes, during the last five minutes of cooking we slather on the sauce - which usually caramelizes in about 5 minutes.We cut the rack into one-two bone portions.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy Weekend BLT

Well, we are back after a long weekend away in the mountains. We've been to this spot before and we snagged a prime camping spot that fit all four parties/tents that attended. We've been meaning to do an entry on camping food, because we love some of the things we do, but unfortunately, we've never gotten good pictures of anything we make! We'll have to work on that the next time we go!
Below is a view from the edge of the Colorado Plateau, its called the Mogollon Rim. It's a great cliff that cuts across central Arizona and has spectacular views.

When we got home I had a ripe tomato that had sat on the counter all weekend - it was almost spoiled. We had plenty of bacon leftover (I know... but you can't go camping without bacon!)... and I, as always after a camping weekend, wasn't in the mood to cook so we made BLTs.
Mmm. What can be more perfect that a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich? Salty bacon, creamy mayonnaise, crispy lettuce and juicy, meaty tomato slices. Daniel's not big on the tomatoes, so he just had a BL :)
Before I begin making my sandwichs I'll pour a tall glass of milk and set it inside the freezer to wait. I toasted the bread, fried up the bacon, sliced the tomato and gathered lettuce. After I spread some mayo on my toast, I layer on the bacon, then the tomato slices, the lettuce, and finally the other slice of toasted bread. By now, my milk will just have a nice frosty feel to it. I sit down to my meal and take my first bite. Heaven between two slices of bread.

Look for more this week on our last BBQ of the summer (Happy Fall everyone!), with some Baby Back Ribs and our favorite BBQ sauce.Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Off to Camp

I hope you haven't missed us too much, we've been busy with the start of school but are both getting back into the groove of things. I miss you all! I've barely been able to make it around to all of my daily-reads, please don't forget about us!
This weekend, we are heading north to go camping... we've been cooking, just not as often, but we still have some yummy dishes we are ready to post so look for them next week.
Have a great weekend everyone!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Friday, September 12, 2008

A Thank You to Three of You

Short post today... We are just AWFUL at this blog-business stuff... But over the past [few] month(s) we got the same award from three(!) people... So thank you to Haley of Appoggiatura, Ivy of Kopiaste, and Nancy of A Recipe A Day, thank you thank you!

I in turn pass this Brilliant Diamond to three others:

Lore of Culinarty
Michelle of My Italian Grandmother
and The Blonde Duck of A Duck in Her Pond

All of these gals are part of my routine reads and I consider them great blog-buddies! It is an honor to read and blog with all of you!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Country Style Ribs V - Beef Skewers

Our fifth and final entry in Rib Week was inspired by my favorite thing to eat in Disneyland, beef skewers. If you are familiar with Disneyland, you can find them right across from the Indiana Jones ride at the Bengal BBQ. It’s a bit too far to drive and quite a bit too expensive to get into Disneyland whenever I want the skewers so I looked up the recipe online. I tried it a few times like the recipe states but I was unhappy with the outcome so I created my own recipe that is easier to work with (the sauce does not thicken up as quick) and cheaper (We use the pork or beef ribs instead of sirloin).

Before working with your meat take a handful of wooden skewers and submerge them in water so they don’t burn as easily when you place them on the grill. Take 4-5 country style beef ribs and slice them length wise about 3/8 inch thick. Use a meat mallet to pound the meat to roughly a 1/4 inch thickness. It’s very important to do this since the ribs are not as tender as a sirloin is. Thread the strips lengthwise on to the skewers. Now is a good time to start you grill so it has a chance to heat up and start working on the sauce.

  • 1/2 cup Soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 Tb ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 Tb garlic powder
  • 1 Tb cornstarch

Combine everything except for the water and cornstarch in s small sauce pan. Slowly add the cornstarch to the water to avoid clumping and when it is fully mixed in add the cornstarch/water mixture to the pan and bring to a low boil reduce heat and allow to simmer while you cook the skewers.
Place the skewers on the preheated grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes or to your desired temperature and remove from the grill. Use a basting brush (or spoon and pour it on) to fully coat the meat with the spicy sauce and serve.

Enjoy!Stumble Upon Toolbar
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Country Style Ribs IV - Skillet-Braised Apple-Mustard Ribs

So far we've done some of these delicious ribs on the grill, in the slow cooker, and as a stir fry. Today I'm going to tell you about cooking these ribs using another slow method - braising. In all technicality, slow-cooker cooking IS a form of braising, and many braising methods include transferring the cooking container to the oven to finish. We actually don't have ANY oven safe cookware (safe for stove-top and oven, that is), so we've learned to braise solely on the stove-top.
This recipe is as final as I have for now... it's delicious and a fine recipe to file in your repertoire, but I don't have very good timings for you. I know I usually start dinner about an hour before Daniel gets home, and its usually on the table within fifteen minutes of his arrival. Here I served it with herbed rice and some fresh summer squash sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.

Apple-Mustard Glazed Ribs

  • 1 1-2 lb packages boneless Country Style Ribs

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tablespoon honey

  • 1 Tablespoon ground sage
  • white pepper
  • 1 onion, quartered

  • white pepper
  • olive oil
Preheat a few tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Season all sides of ribs with pepper and sage. Place ribs in pan to brown, turning to brown all sides.
While the ribs are browning, mix together the juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Pour into pan after ribs are browned and turn heat to medium-low. Add onions.
Simmer until liquid is reduced by half and the juices in the ribs run clear (or use your handy meat thermometer to check for safe pork temp). Remove ribs from pan.
Add honey. Stir to distribute and return heat to high. Simmer sauce until it reaches desired gravy-like consistency. Drizzle gravy over ribs to serve.

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Country Style Ribs III - Pork Stir Fry with Noodles

As I've mentioned twice now, country style ribs are a great value. They can tend to be on the tough/gristle-y side, but the ones we get from our butcher are usually pretty good. Another thing that can be done to prevent toughness besides boiling or slow-cooking, is to cut across the grain, as you would a flank steak. When you cut across the grain, you have perfect little bits for fajitas or stir fry.
I looooove stir fry. If our diets and budgets allowed, I'd get Chinese takeout way more than I currently do. To tie up the gap between the times I actually allow myself takeout, we began experimenting with the wok we got when we got married.
I've mastered fried rice and a basic stir fry. You can really use any meat (or cut) you want. But, like I said, these ribs, when sliced across the grain, make perfect little stir-fry bits. I usually put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes prior to slicing, so they can firm up, then slice them on a bias, across the grain, pretty thinly. If I see any gristle/fat lines I might get out the meat-hammer, but it isn't usually necessary. If I'm short on time, I'll let the meat marinate while I prepare the veggies and start the noodles/rice (depending on what we are in the mood for) If I have time, I'll marinate the meat before I slice it up, for a much longer period of time (since the marinade won't penetrate the meat as well as when it's sliced.)

From there I take various veggies, and chop them up stir-fry style. Bell peppers get a large dice, carrots sliced thin on the bias, onions become half-rings, zucchini becomes sliced-on-bias half-moons, mushrooms get chopped in half (or quartered if they are big), etc, etc, etc.
For a basic stir fry you need four things. Marinated meat, various veggies, soy sauce/stirfry sauce/leftover marinade, and oil. Olive oil will work, but the meat won't brown up as nicely as with a canola or vegetable oil. You'll only need a few tablespoons of oil to begin with, once its heated, throw in the meat and the marinade. Cook the meat until it is almost done, flip it around if needed (to cook on both sides), then throw in the vegetables. Now, you really only want to blanch the veggies, so after about a minute, its done! If you are using noodles, I like to throw those (cooked, of course) in after the veggies cook for a few moments. I toss the contents of the wok around to coat and serve it up in bowls with chop sticks. It is kind of like a one dish meal (got your meats, your veggies, your carbs, all in one bowl).

Below is my marinade, but there are some pretty awesome (and high-fructose-free) sauces on the shelf at the store. You can also stop by an Asian Grocer and find some really cool stuff to experiment with. (fish sauce, various brands of stir-fry sauce, etc)

Corinne's "Asian" Marinade (use for a 1-2 lb package of country style ribs)

  • 1 cup soy sauce (if you don't want to use this much soy sauce, water it down or use broth to make up a 1 cup amount of liquid)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed/roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter, melted
Combine first six ingredients in bowl. Whisk in melted peanut butter. Pour in zip-top bag with meat and place in refrigerator. Marinate 4-8 hours for whole ribs, or if sliced, up to an hour. If leaving whole ribs for longer period, turn occasionally to coat all meat with marinade.Stumble Upon Toolbar
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Country Style Ribs II - Slow Cooker Ribs

Slow cooking is the busy cook/mother/student/wife's dream. OK, so, maybe your memories of slow cooker meals include Momma's Pot Roast and Beef Stew, not exactly gourmet (but don't knock them!) New generations are waking up to the versatility of slow cooking. From soups and stews to casseroles to cakes, almost any recipe can be adapted for use in a slow cooker.

Country style ribs are an ideal slow-cooked meal. The fat and gristle content is best cooked slow and long at lower temperatures. The slowed down process renders the fat and allows the molecules that make up the tough stuff to unwind slowly and become soft as butter.

You can throw any sauce in you want. The ribs become fork tender and fall apart… some country style ribs contain bones, in this case the meat will fall right off. They can be eaten alone or on buns. We like ours on fluffy biscuits, topped with a little more barbecue sauce (our Chili-Sweet Sauce is our favorite)

Slow Cooker Country Style Ribs

  • 1 1-2 lb package Country Style Ribs
  • your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 onion, sliced

Place ribs in bottom of slow cooker. Pour sauce over ribs, enough to coat (I usually use at least a cup). Top with sliced onions. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions, usually on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.

At end of cooking time, ladle out the meat and pull apart with fork for sandwiches. Top with barbecue sauce. If eating alone, ladle out gravy and use to serve.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Country Style RIbs I - Good 'n' Grilled

The most simple, and most obvious, way to eat country style ribs, is to grill them... I know there is a huge debate about "barbecue" and "grill" and all that... We have a propane grill so apparently we don't qualify for either of those the way some foodies look at it. But. We like to "grill" our "ribs" with "barbecue sauce" and I know they are tasty, so that's all that matters to us. :P
They are great when you want that barbecued rib taste, but with a knife and fork and way less mess.
Many recommend boiling these ribs before placing them on the grill. Depending on how gristle-y your ribs are, you may need to do that. The ones we get from our butcher are usually pretty even in regards to meat/fat/gristle content, and when they aren't, we reserve them for slower cooking methods that will break down the gristle and render the fat. Either way, its up to you and your time.
Daniel likes to rub them with his favorite Southwest Essence (by Emeril) or, a combination of chili powder/flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, and a touch of brown sugar. Then onto the grill they go for 30 minutes over a medium flame (you may need to adjust this depending on thickness of rib and your particular grill).

During the last five minutes of cooking, we baste them in our favorite barbecue sauce. When I'm feeling particularily perky, I'll whip up a batch of my Arizona Chili-Sweet Barbecue Sauce, which is way better than those bottled bbq sauces that are loaded with corn syrup. This sauce is tomato based, and can be made in about 30 minutes. When I've made larger batches (to bottle/can myself) I'll let it simmer over an hour. The longer you simmer, the less sauce you get in the end, but, the richer it is.

Arizona Chili-Sweet Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard (yellow or spicy brown)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • Bottled hot sauce (such as Tapitio or Cholula, but asian-esque Sriracha works too)

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch oregano
Heat saucepan over medium-high heat. Combine first 6 ingredients in saucepan. Cover with lid and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. (it will pop/splatter so keep that lid on!) Add chili/hot sauce to taste, I usually put about 5-8 "glugs" or up to a couple teaspoons. Add paprika and oregano, then stir to distribute. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. I usually stir it every few minutes, to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

In combination with our rub on the ribs, the sauce intensifies in garlic, sweet, and spicy. I guess I could describe it spicy enough for Daniel's tastes, but sweet enough to cool me down after the initial bite of heat. This sauce is also great for chicken, our crock pot ribs, and any other application barbecue sauce is good for.Stumble Upon Toolbar
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