Monday, June 24, 2013

Nice Rack! I mean Baby Back Ribs, of course.

baby back rib recipe

I really love grilling season! Give me a burger, a brat, a hot dog, chicken, vegetables - you name it, I'll grill it. But, there's one food that I associate with summer almost more than the rest - Barbecued Baby Back Ribs.

Last weekend, I make my first batch of ribs of the season. They were tender, gooey, finger-tip suckingly yummers.  So yummy, that the next day all I could think about was making more.  So that's exactly what I did!

Okay, in my humble opinion, a good baby back rib should be tender, succulent, almost falling off the bone.  Don't give me some dried piece of jerky on a bone, slathered in barbecue sauce, and expect me to gnaw away at it. I want the meat on my baby back ribs to pull from the bone languidly like Scarlett swooning in Rhett's arms.

If you are the same, there are only a few ways to achieve the tender result.
  • You can smoke the ribs for hours. For me, this is a little overkill, both in smoke flavor and in effort. I have had some Texas-style bbq ribs that were so smoke infused I thought I'd need a ventilator to breath while chewing. 
  • If you are a grill master, you can try indirect grilling, keeping the heat to one side to slowly roast the ribs. The trouble with grilling is unless you have gas grill, it's quite a task to maintain your temperature low and slow for hours. I'd rather enjoy my day chatting with friends than stoking coals to get keep them consistent. There are people who totally groove on this though, and if you are one of them - more power to you.
  • Frankly, as with so many recipes/specialties in cooking I think there's a lot of unnecessary fussing and complication. I like to slow roast my ribs in the oven and finish them on the grill. It is the least effort and the most consistent result. That's why I oven-roast/steam my ribs and finish them on the grill.  If you are looking for "Never Fail Baby Back Ribs" then you've come to the right site.

how to cook baby back ribsNever Fail Baby Back Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika (Spanish Pimenton)
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp granulated garlic
½ tsp onion powder
2 racks baby back ribs
2 to 3 cups barbecue sauce, your favorite

Preheat oven to 275F.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprikas, mustard powder, salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, and onion powder. Use a fork to blend completely. Set aside.

To prepare the ribs, first, remove the silver skin from the underside of the ribs. Use a paring knife to catch the edge of the membrane and then slide your fingers under it and pull it away from the bones. 

Rub the ribs with the seasoning on both sides.

Wrap each rack of ribs in a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold the edges to seal tightly. Place the racks on a baking sheet or in a large roasting pan. Place into the oven and bake until the ribs are tender, about 2 ½ hours.

how to cook baby back ribs

Preheat grill to medium temperature.

Remove the ribs from the oven and unwrap the aluminum foil. Starting with the meaty side down, grill the ribs for 15 minutes. Flip the racks over and grill for an additional 5 minutes. 
Baste the ribs with ½ cup to 1 cup of barbecue sauce and grill for an additional 10 minutes. Remove racks from the grill and let the ribs rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into sections. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mango Madness

My local grocery store has tons of mangos on sale and I also received an enormous, ripe beauty in my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box this week - so it must be Mango season!
I just love a succulent, juicy mango whether it's sliced "hedgehog-style" with lime juice and a touch of chili powder or diced in a fruit salad with strawberry. I recently had the most delightful martini of mango sorbet and vodka and highly recommend that combination as well.

My grocer has been stocking two types of mangos lately. The Common Mango and the pale yellow, sugary-sweet Champagne Mango. I prefer the Common Mango and its fleshy, peach-like, texture. It's sweet, without setting my teeth on edge.

If you're stumped as how to select a ripe mango, here are a few tips. Try sniffing the stem end for a fragrant fruity odor, or squeeze very gently, if its ripe the flesh with be firm yet yielding feel under your fingers. If you've purchased a under ripe mango have no fear, placing the fruit in a paper bag on your counter overnight usually does the trick.

Mango peel is considered inedible so you should remove it. You can either peel it like a banana or, use a knife to slice around the large central seed, as you would an avocado. Twist the fruit gently to divide it into two halves, and remove the seed. Sometimes the seed lifts right out but if it doesn't, you can coax it out with your knife. At this point, you can spoon the fruit directly into your mouth or - if you feel like sharing - slice or cube it.

For years I've been making a mango salsa that is absolutely to die for (if I do say so). It has splashy colors, bright citrus notes, and just a hint of heat to balance the sweetness of the mango. It's perfect for simple grilled chicken or fish. I wanted to share it with you just in time to kick off grilling season.

Mango Salsa
Serves 4
1 medium mango, peeled and diced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp red onion, minced
1/2 to 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Toss to mix. Season with salt to taste. 

Serve on grilled chicken, pork, or shrimp.
Don't you just love food that's pretty and easy to make? Me too!