Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adventures in Cookin’ – Ribs!

I live in Pennsylvania, but I love southern style cooking (at least I think I do… I’ve never had the real thing, but the stuff I get locally that has bar-b-que sauce on it is really tasty).  After a recent family vacation, I got home from the long drive and was really in the mood to make some slow cooked meats, slather on some sauce, and gorge on the end result.  There’s something about the concept of making southern style food.  I love the idea of slow cooking food, taking time to let flavors develop, and providing time to enjoy the process of making food as well.  So recently, my lovely wife forwarded me a recipe from the for some Stout and Sriracha BBQ sauce. Armed with that information, I knew what my mission was, to make some sauce, and some ribs, and  eat ‘em all up.

Chapter 1: Dry Rub


Some philosophies for BBQ don’t involve using dry rub and sauce… not me.  I like em both, the more flavor the better.  I started with a simple dry rub: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and brown sugar.  I took my ribs, unpacked them, gave them a quick rinse, and then cut them in half.  Since my plan was to cook them in the oven and finish them on the grill, I wanted to make sure they were easy to handle.  So after cutting them in half and placing in some foil, I heavily coated my tender pieces of raw pork in the dry rub concoction, and wrapped the foil up into a tent.  I set the oven on 280, placed the ribs inside, and didn’t touch them for three hours.

Chapter 2: Did someone say stout and sriracha?


I love beer, and I love spicy food, so BBQ sauce with sriracha and stout was right up my alley.  In particular, I’m rather fond of stouts, so I had a few in my fridge (even though it’s summer).  One I had been holding onto for a while was a River Horse Oatmeal Milk stout, which I particularly enjoy for it’s extra creaminess and deep flavor.  I’ve made BBQ sauces in the past with stout’s and they have come out surprisingly well, so I had no doubt that my River Horse was a good choice.  When I make BBQ sauce, I also like to make extra so I can keep it in a jar in the fridge.  It typically lasts a while, and during the summer I always eat some food that BBQ sauce pairs with.  As such, I took the recipe above and doubled everything to make a larger batch, a choice that would be a tragic one.

WP_20140720_006 Following the ingredients list top to bottom, I checked them off the list one by one.  I started with some minced garlic and oil, taking the time and pleasure to slowly mince.  In the background, my wife had started The Godfather I which provided some immense entertainment while I played with my knife (and somehow managed to not chop my pinkies off).  I added my ketchup, paprika, liquid smoke, sriracha, etc. 


I got to my final ingredient and proudly took pictures of my creation in action.  THEN I took the liberty of reading the instructions for the sauce.  My heart sunk when I saw for the first time that I was to take the oil, heat in a pan, and add my garlic to sauté until the garlic was soft.  Whoops… Oh well, at this point I’m already in too deep.  I went ahead and took my stout, placed in a pan and warmed it up.  Once started, I took the remainder of my ingredients and added them to the pan.  At this point, over an hour had elapsed since I put the ribs in the oven, and I wasn’t concerned about time.  On a low heat, I let the sauce continue to reduce and thicken.  Tasting periodically, I was happy, but I didn’t get enough heat.  I added more sriracha, and the flavor really started to come out.  I liked this sauce initially because you get the heat from the sauce, but not the patented sriracha flavor.

Chapter 3: Bring in the reliever


My ribs cooked for over 2 and a half hours, and my house smelled wonderful (my wife thought it stunk..).   The ribs were getting very tender, and the dry rub was baking on very well.  At this time, I took my finished BBQ sauce and placed in a bowl to start marinating my ribs with.  I took a spoon and tried my concoction, and WOW.. salt.  Too much salt.  The heat was awesome, the smell was excellent, and the initial flavor was outstanding, but the finish was the salt monster.  I think when I doubled the recipe, even though I used low sodium soy sauce.. it was still too much.  Heartbroken, I had to get rid of the sauce… putting it on the ribs would have ruined them.


Digging frantically in my fridge, I found a half-used jar of Yuengling BBQ sauce, which I think is pretty good. (Added bonus, it’s made with beer, so I’m still in the spirit of this initial cooking exercise).  I took my 2 half-racks of ribs, some sauce, and fired up my grill.  I just wanted to char the edges of my ribs and apply some sauce to bake it in.  After a brief stint on the grill (and some fallen pieces of tender pork), I brought them back in.


With a tall glass of water, 2 ears of fresh corn from the market, and a whole rack of ribs to myself, I dove in.  The ribs were tender, just slightly on the salty side because of the dry rub.  However they heated perfectly, and the sauce was a nice complement.  Of course, no dinner blog post is complete without a before and after post.  On the left is the before…

WP_20140720_013 And here’s the after.. So, what did I learn?  One, to read the instructions BEFORE cooking anything. Two, to taste while I cook. Three, to not trust that doubling all ingredients makes a double batch of something perfectly.  I will make the stout and sriracha BBQ sauce again, but definitely with a more mindful approach towards the amount of soy sauce and other ingredients.

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