Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Not Necessarily Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
Cold and snow has never stopped me from cooking outdoors. It has been a tradition for me to cook a horseradish encrusted prime beef rib roast on my Weber® Kettle charcoal grill each Christmas Eve for many years. More coals and a bit of extra time makes up for the air temperature and wind. I once cooked it outdoors in sub zero weather with blowing snow and it still came out great. A thermometer inserted into the meat along with a little extra love and attention makes all this difference. Most folks are not willing to put up with mild discomfort to cook outstanding food and are willing to settle for simple 'belly-fill'. How else would one explain the existence and proliferation of places like Applebee’s, Chili’s and Red Lobster?
Sunday night I cooked braised baby back ribs in the oven indoors. Not because I don’t like slow smoked BBQ ribs over hardwood coals, in fact I love them. And I will cook them again in a snowstorm in February if I feel like it. But the unique aromatic flavor in this recipe makes it worthwhile and easy to cook indoors. When I barbecue ribs I prefer spare ribs because there’s more meat, more fat and they are very forgiving when smoking long, low and slow. But there is something delightfully unusual about this specific recipe that makes these back ribs Much More Better Than Good™. They taste nothing like BBQ pork ribs but the results sooo tender and tasty. Stick with me here.
The recipe is from Alton Brown who both I admire and respect very much. Once you get past his quirky “schtick” this guy really knows that the secret to good eats is patience and attention to detail. Why cook any other way? When I spend my money on quality fresh ingredients and take the time to cook better than average food it is my supreme mission to deliver a fabulous meal to the table. Anything less and you may as well go to a Casual Dining Restaurant like Applebee’s and it's probably cheaper not counting the bar tab. But it will definitely not be as good. You pay to eat out at places like that mainly because someone else washes the dishes and cleans the table. After all is said and done their food is just not that good.
Every recipe from Brown I have made has resulted in an outstanding food experience if you pay attention to the details as he does. I have field tested this rib recipe more than once and can report to you that it is easy and worth every minute of your effort. But don’t expect BBQ style ribs. Instead you will get an aromatic dish that sends you into a gastronomical orgasm worthy of a fine restaurant experience at a tenth of the cost. And you won’t have to drive home with fear of getting pulled over with a broken tail light. IF you know what I mean.
Cooking ribs indoors scared me at first. I cannot stand the thought of par-boiling any kind of pork. It always ends up with a porcine flavor that I find undesirable and very noticeable. This recipe is based on ‘braising’, or steamed with spices and wine. I have braised beef short ribs in spices with root vegetables and rich red wine served with mashed sweet potatoes. Incredible. I have braised pork shoulder with a variety of vegetables that beats any stew or pot roast you have ever had all to hell. Braising was designed to cook and tenderize tough and less flavorful cuts of meat similar to cooking a stew or pot roast. Add in some wine and spices and it can be an easy, tasty, winter time cooking technique to enjoy in front of a late season football game and roaring fire. This is true comfort food in every way.
I bring this experience to the readers of LITGM because it allows you to elevate your culinary experience if you have not already done so. It also provides practice time photographing food indoors with my new camera. I still have a long way to go with the camera (lighting needs a lot of work and so does the selective focus) but the food came out perfect. Trust me.
In order to keep the post short here is a link to the recipe. One thing I would change in the rub recipe. Use two tablespoons of salt or less. Three is way too much. Copy and paste the link, I still don’t know how to create a direct hotspot link.