Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May Day Virtual Barbecue (and giveaway)!

It's spring and you, yes you, are invited to a virtual barbecue. Since May Day is a holiday that celebrates spring, fertility, and other outdoor activities, I thought we could all honor this fest with some outdoor cooking. (Though please, for safety and for the sake of being neighborly, please don't grill naked). Come join the party this Sunday, May Day, share what you are cooking, and maybe even win a book.

This isn't my first virtual barbecue here at She-Smoke headquarters. Before the book launched, I held a contest for folks to upload videos to YouTube for a video virtual barbecue. The entries I did get were amazing, like this one from my kinfolk, however I learned an important lesson about contests and events: make them really really easy to enter.

To join in the virtual potluck, simply post a comment here about what's on your barbecue on May Day, or comment and/or upload a photo on the She-Smoke facebook page. I'll pick three favorites (or maybe we'll figure out a way to vote on facebook) and give away three copies of my book.

Easy. Fun. Invite all your friends, especially those far far away so that you can be with them, virtually, at a barbecue.
An little end note for research junkies like me: The archives from the University of Missouri explain how May Day began, in case you aren't familiar with this somewhat forgotten holiday. The website includes some wonderful pictures of ladies dressed in white, dancing around the maypole.

Spring Baby Backs Part 2 (repost)

I changed the title from "Spring is time for Baby backs" to "Spring Baby Backs" because really, any time is time for baby back ribs. Here is the continuation of the recipe. In case you missed it, see Part 1 for Uncle Jack's Clean Out The Fridge Barbecue Sauce.

On one of the recent schizophrenic spring days here in the Northwest (it's been alternating between sun and snow or sleet), I fired up the Weber after a 3-month hiatus. A hiatus filled with spit up, 1am, 3am and 5am feedings, and the daily challenge of figuring out how to do anything with two kids. Ive become a pack-mule and have had to learn to slow down to a zen-like speed that would annoy an overfed turtle. Some days, by the time I get the baby fed, all of us dressed, and the bag packed, the "window" of getting out slams shut and it's time for another round of diapers, naps, lunch and meltdowns. Why am I going on and on about this? Because standing at the grill on a beautiful sunny day with nothing but a pair of tongs in my hand made me feel so light and giddy, I thought I might just fly away with the clouds.

Ribs mopped with a bourbon barbecue sauce aren't always associated with the words "light" and "airy" but I'm calling these "Float on a Cloud Baby backs" all the same. Here is the recipe:

Uncle Jack's Clean Out The Fridge Barbecue Sauce (part 1)

Apple juice (in spray bottle if you have it)

Modified Feisty Girl Rub - this rub is in my book, but I've added a little more sugar. Any spicy brown sugar rub will do. Quantity is per rack.

6 Tbls. brown sugar
2 Tbls. sea salt or kosher salt
1 Tbls. fresh ground pepper
2 tsp dried mustard
1 Tbls. paprika
1 Tbls. Cajun seasoning mix
A few dashes of cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

1-2 racks baby back ribs (membrane removed)

Step by Step
1. Pat rub all over ribs 1 hour to a day ahead.

2. Make your fire for Slow and Low and "Get Your Smoke On". In other words - light a quarter to a half chimney (about 20 coals) and dump, when coals are turning ash gray, into a tight pile on one side in your charcoal grill. Add a chunk of wood or a 1/2 cup of wood chips and close the lid. After 10-15 minutes, place ribs on indirect heat side of grill.

3. Target inside grill temperature is 200-250 degrees. Note how I've put a remote thermometer through a potato so that it doesn't sit directly on the grill.

3. Close lid and leave it. After 30 minutes light a new batch of charcoal in your chimney starter or a second grill. Feed already-hot coals to your pile 45 minutes to an hour into cooking. Add wood as necessary for the first 3 hours.

4. After one hour and every 45 minutes to an hour thereafter, spray mop your ribs with the apple juice. Keep that lid closed as much as possible to maintain your heat and smoke!

5. Ribs will take 4-5 hours. Brush racks with barbecue sauce in the final 20-30 minutes.

6. Remember, "falling off the bone" is a misnomer. You want to be able to bite the meat without losing half of it on your shirt.

Feel free to ask any questions or comment on the recipe!
Originally posted on 04/18/2009

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring is time for babybacks: Part 1

I'm reposting a few of my favorite blogs and recipes from the past two years. In part because I have a lot more readers now than when I first started this blog, and it's new to many, and also to give me a little break from the blog this spring. Without further ado, from April of 2009.....

The first sunny day this past week I uncovered the Weber and stoked up the coals. I usually don't let inclement weather stop me, but this winter I also had a newborn to care for. I was lucky to get a frozen pizza pocket cooked in the microwave. It felt good to stretch my smokin' muscles after a three-month hiatus.

I also needed to clean out the fridge. (I'd clearly taken a three-month hiatus from it as well.) So I first made my Uncle Jack's Clean Out The Fridge Barbecue Sauce. My Uncle Jack loves to eat and he loves to make a deal. Making a tasty sauce out of items on the brink of the garbage bin tickles him pink. He'll tell you his recipe is a secret. What he means is you-don't-wanna-know what's in it. I once watched him unload the contents of my Aunt Sandra's fridge into the sauce pot - a fridge that was always chock full and contained a number of the world's greatest mysteries inside. What he did admit to me is that as long as certain ingredients were included in the recipe, the rest was mere nuance.

My sauce didn't have anything too scary. I included the certain ingredients: ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and salt, then added the bits and ends in my fridge to make the sauce. I had some bourbon, old ginger, and the end of a bottle of maple syrup to throw in. It made a rich, dark sauce. Here is a picture of my ingredients:

Here is my recipe. Remember - barbecue sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make. You can use my ratios of the base ingredients and clean out your own fridge. After that you can fire up the grill to make some baby back ribs (Part 2).

RECIPE: (Ode to) Uncle Jack's Clean Out The Fridge Barbecue Sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2 Tbls. spicy brown mustard
3 Tbls. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
End of a bottle of maple syrup with 1/2 cup hot water to swish it all out
2 Tbls. bourbon
1 Tbls. molasses
1 tsp. finely grated ginger (can use powdered ginger too as shown)
1 tsp. salt

Saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat, stirring. Just as it begins to brown, add ketchup. Add remaining ingredients and reduce to low. Simmer sauce for about 45 minutes before serving or before cooling to bottle for the refrigerator.