Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ode to Summer..............Part II

OK, so I said that there would be two posts paying tribute to summer, so here ya go.  I was looking back at my last few posts and realized that there is no mention of any meat anywhere!  What has become of me!  Last time I checked I was as far from a vegetarian as one could be, but for some reason I seemed to have crossed over to the dark side (no offense to those vegetarians out there).  So, it seems very fitting that this second tribute to summer would center around barbecue.  Now I don't know about any of you out there, but the thought of flesh charred by an open flame dripping in barbecue sauce sends me to an unholy place.......my stomach just said HELLO!  Anyhoo, putting together a decent barbecue recipe was difficult, since the initial targeted piece of meat I had decided to char ended up being beyond my grasp.  I guess a little history is needed here.............
So, one beautiful sunny morning I had an epiphany!  I must do barbecue!  Now, bear in mind that this was on Labor Day, when everyone and their mother were BBQing, so it really wasn't that much of a stretch to think of it as a topic for discussion.  After much deliberation on what hunk of muscle I was going to experiment on I decided to go with brisket.  So I went to my favorite butcher and wouldn't you know it, he was closed (Duh, who works on Labor Day anyway?  The damn butcher should, that's who!)  Brisketless I trekked my way to the supermarket hoping to get lucky and well, I was s%$# out of luck.  So I perused the meat cabinet, searching for an alternate victim and there it was.  Now I had already told myself that I was not going to go with your garden variety steak, even though they are delicious.  I wanted a challenge, something I had never barbecued before, and the chosen victim was boneless beef country ribs (why in the f#&* are they called "country ribs"? I should ask my non-working butcher).  The great thing about country ribs is that they are a sizable chunk of meat, and they are very economically friendly, which at this time for me is an added bonus since I am economically challenged. 
So, I brought the ribs home, feeling a stupid sense of accomplishment for my find, and then it dawned on me, how in the hell do I cook these things.  I proceeded to rummage through my refrigerator and spice cabinets and found a beer, chili sauce, Sriracha, cumin and chili powder.  Putting all those things together and making ANOTHER trip to the market, I figured out how to char this newly found piece of meat.............

Barbecued Beef Country Ribs


I wanted to put a picture of a cute cow here
but that was just a little too blunt!
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Obviously rub the rub all over the ribs, coating them well, and refrigerate them overnight.  This step is highly difficult when all you want is charred flesh, damn it waiting all night is torture!  Anyway................

Barbecue Sauce:

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/2 an onion minced (use a sweet onion if you can)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Sriracha (you can modify this depending on how hot you like it, lava temp suits me well, so I add more)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and saute until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer the sauce until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.  Set sauce aside.  Now, a small rant about barbecue sauces, you can literally make thousands of different varieties of sauces, playing with heat, sources of sweetness (honey is delicious), adding in fruit (I've tried blackberries and peaches, both of which are delightful) or even roasted chilies (poblanos are a good) and by making them yourself you can control what's in them......don't look at the back of a bottle of generic barbecue sauce, its scary!  Hummmm, maybe a post just dedicated to barbecue sauces?

Braising Liquid

4 tablespoons canola oil
2 bay leaves
1 bottle of beer (I prefer an IPA or even a Lager will work)
1 medium onion sliced
3 cups beef broth
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

To braise the ribs, heat the oil in a medium pan on medium high heat.  When the pan is very hot brown the ribs on both sides, being careful not to crowd the pan.  When the ribs are browned, add the onion and the beer and deglaze the pan (deglazing for anyone who doesn't know, is just using a liquid to get all those yummy brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan).  Bring the beer to a simmer and simmer the onions in the beer for about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a soft boil, about another 5 minutes.  Add the ribs, cover, and braise until they are fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours. 
Once the ribs are done braising, remove them from the pan and immediately smear the prepared barbecue sauce all over them (this is strangely therapeutic), take them to the grill and grill for about 4 minutes per side (caramelization achieved!), then baste again right before serving and then.........it's feasting time........... I love bringing out the Tyrannosaurus in myself!
On a side note, this sauce and rub combination works on all cuts of meat, and in retrospect while this was delicious I maybe would have used bone-in ribs to help retain the moisture in the meat, but it sure is nice not to have to deal with those pesky bones!  Sounds so grotesque in a carnivorous way :)

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