Thursday, July 8, 2010

Removing My Ribs

No, this isn't a post about me undergoing the same surgery that Marilyn Manson allegedly went through, though they say it has it's advantages. This post covers something far more important (and I mean far more important) -- pork ribs.

Ahh Pork Ribs. Undeniable summery, undeniably messy and undeniably tasty. I am in love -- my favorite meat mingling with my favorite condiment in what is one of the most satisfying and comforting meals in your repertoire.

How to cook ribs is one of the most hotly debated issues in the culinary world. Barbecue gurus from different parts of the country can't even agree on whether barbecue represents the way the meat is cooked or the sauce in which is it (sometimes) smothered. Nor can rib aficianados decide how fall-off-the-bone they should be, or exactly what cooking method should be used. Yes, folks, disagreement is the hallmark of this unique little corner of food nirvana. Read this paragraph as a disclaimer that while the way I "barbecue" ribs might be vastly different than the way you do, it results in a damn good final product.

One more thing before I get down to brass tacks -- I mentioned that some question whether ribs should fall off the bone or not. I say, they should. You should be able to grab each individual rib and yank it cleanly out of it's meaty home.

So here are today's players:

You obviously need ribs:
St. Louis Ribs.

For the liquid in which the ribs are cooked:
3/8 Barbecue Sauce
3/8 Beef Stock
1/4 Red Wine Vinegar

For delicious purposes:
More Barbecue Sauce

Simply combine all three liquids in a bowl and stir together (it will be fairly thin). Please don't measure them. Just make sure you have more barbecue and beef stock than vinegar. Taste it, and make sure it's not too vinegary. Now you're going to place your ribs in a baking pan that can accomodate and dump your saucy mixture on top. You want the ribs to be nearly completely covered, if they are sticking out a little bit that's fine. Cover tightly with foil and toss in your preheated 350 degree oven for about 3 or 4 hours (one of my good buddies once did about 10 hours once, but only because we sort of forgot about them, I don't recommend cooking them for that long).

You'll know the ribs are done when they fall apart if you look at them cross. Gingerly transfer the ribs from the liquid onto a broiler pan. Brush a coat of sauce on the ribs; toss under the broiler, lick your lips, pace around the kitchen, peak 2-3-4 times, remove from broiler (the sauce will get nice and bubbly, if you're patient, you can let it start to really caramelize nicely (I am not patient).

Break out the wet naps and serve with some mashed or crash hot potatoes and corn on the cob. No, you don't have to send me a thank you card.

A note about BBQ Sauce: I do not make my own. I use Sweet Baby Rays which, for my money, is the best commercially available sauce on the market. Feel free to doctor it up, but I doubt you will see the need.

The Simple Things

There are certain things that they say are tied very closely to memories. I believe food is definitely one of those things. If you've read my recently posted autobiography (yes, with all it's typos) you'll see that I truly believe this. Lately I have a tendency to be making some rather complex and diverse foods, but these are not the ones I tend to remember as fondly. What does tend to be tied more closely to my memories are the ones steeped in simplicity.

One of the best examples of these is Sunday morning Tea with my father. On many a Sunday morning, while waiting to get ready for church, I can remember sitting on my fathers lap, wearing an oversized tee-shirt that I slept in the night before reclined in a chair in the living room and sharing a cup of strong Lipton Tea with lots of Milk and sugar(a tradition that originates with my Grandma Margie). My favorite part of this though was the Cinnamon-sugar toast that dad would make to have with the tea.
I can remember making the tea in the microwave, I didn't even realize that normally the tea would be made in a kettle until later when I would share the same tradition with my grandmother. My father would save the teabag on the sill behind the sink to brew another cup later. I remember ignoring the television (which was invariably set to CBS sunday morning, a show no 5 year old in his or her right mind would be interested in), and I remember the sweet and savory taste of the buttered cinnamon toast being the best breakfast I could have.
Nowadays, I find that life can be pretty stressful, it can be depressing, it can seem downright overwhelming. Now I understand why my father, and my grandmother, continued these traditions. Now when I find my world to be a little overwhelming, or if I find that I miss my dad or grandma, that such a simple treat can bring back so many of the things that made me so happy as a kid. It never ceases to amaze me how happy it can still make me now.

1 Bag strong pekoe Tea (Lipton or PG Tips works best)
2-3T of Milk
2t Sugar (at least)
8oz boiling water
Steep Briskly for 4 minutes to get a very strong brew. Grandma would always retrieve the teabag with a spoon and wrap the string around it to squeeze the bitter stuff out. stir in the remaining ingredients.

2 slices white bread toasted to a rich golden brown and generously buttered.
2T White Sugar
3/4t Cinnamon.
mix the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle liberally on the buttered toast as the butter is melting. Enjoy with Tea.