Simply Seasonal: Irresistable ribs
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. The classic tune paints the picture of fun and relaxation; to me, that means friends hanging out around the barbeque. Summertime entertaining is all about easy living – make-ahead dishes that require a minimum of fuss, yet create mouth-watering aromas when finished on the grill. Restaurant Avondale’s executive sous chef, K Singhaninh, chooses ribs as his favorite crowd-pleaser. He walked me through the simple steps to make baby back ribs like a pro. Here are his 10 tips:1. Plan on half a rack of baby back pork ribs per person. Then add another couple of racks, as people just love ribs. If they don’t all get eaten, you’ve got great leftovers.2. Ribs have tons of flavor and don’t need a marinade or a rub. But to add spiciness or a certain flavoring to your dish – go for it!3. Sear your ribs on a hot grill briefly, just to get a char. Then bring them indoors and allow to braise in a slow (300) oven for about 3 hours for baby backs. (Longer if the ribs are larger).4. Braising breaks down the meat to its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. The correct way to braise: Place roughly 1 inch of chicken stock in the bottom of the pan. Add the seared ribs and cover tightly. Uncover in 3 hours and taste for flavor and tenderness. You cannot overcook the ribs this way – they simply get softer and softer. Remember that you want to finish on the grill, so you don’t want them ‘falling off the bone’ from the braising.5. At this point, your ribs can be refrigerated to finish later that day or the next. They are officially ‘done’ and just need to be reheated and sauced on the grill. If you choose to refrigerate, keep them in the braising liquid and allow to cool to room temperature. Then place in the fridge, still in their liquid, and the flavor will become richer.6. Build your fire. Charcoal or gas grill, get it hot, then allow it to slow down. You want the fire to be low when you put the ribs on.7. Add wood chips if you like a smokiness. Applewood or cherry give great flavor. Soak the chips in water for 20 minutes, then place right on the coals (or in an aluminum pan on a gas element.)8. You are ready to finish the ribs and an indirect cooking method is best. On a gas grill, simply turn off the center element. With charcoal, push the coals to the edges of the grill. Then place the ribs in the center, so they are not right over the heat. Glaze with your sauce. By using the indirect method, the ribs slowly come up to a hot internal temperature, staying nice and moist, while the sauce seeps in.9. Is your mouth watering yet? Is a smoky aroma tantalizing your nostrils? Are your friends hovering around the grill with eager anticipation? It’s your moment to impress – slice the ribs into sections and pile onto a platter.10. Keep it simple and have your potato salad, green salad, corn on the cob or other sides already prepared and ready to bring to the table.10.5. Pineapple and pork are a natural combination. Substitute pineapple for the tomato in your favorite pico de gallo or salsa recipe. A perfect side dish for baby back ribs, and if you make it the day before, the flavors have melded beautifully.Thanks, Chef K, for the perfect barbecue plan. Easy summertime livin’ – Mix a pitcher of your favorite beverage, dazzle your friends with your grill skills and indulge in the art of relaxation.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur (larkspurvail.com), at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and features a West Coast-inspired, market-driven menu.
Molasses Rib Glaze——————————1/2 cup cider vinegar1/2 cup braising liquid from your ribs2 Tablespoons molasses2/3 cup maple syrup1/2 cup Dijon mustardCrushed red pepper, salt and black pepper to taste——————————Mix all ingredients together. Makes about 2 cups.Adobo Marinade Pequeno——————————1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil5 garlic cloves, chopped1/2 cup Ancho chile powder2 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano1/2 teaspoon sugar1 teaspoon salt1 cup water——————————Sweat garlic for about one minute in the oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to a month. Makes 1 cup.Steak & Rib Rub——————————1 cup black peppercorns1/2 cup assorted other peppercorns – green, pink, white1/4 cup fennel seeds1 cup celery seeds1 cup allspice15 whole cloves1 Tablespoon onion powder1 Tablespoon garlic powder1 Tablespoon paprika1/4 cup brown sugar1/4 cup sea salt——————————Using a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder), grind first six ingredients and place in a mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well with a whisk. Store covered. Makes 5 cups.
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