Saturday, July 11, 2009

Our Fourth? Smokin'!

I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy
A Yankee Doodle, do or die.
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam'sBorn on the Fourth of July…
- George M. Cohan, circa 1904

When Dave gets a bee in his bonnet, there's nothing to do but stand back and stay out of his way. It was like that when he decided to build a work bench so he could pursue his woodworking dream, or getting a Mini Clubman (which arrives next Friday…woo hoo!).

Removing the membrane from the ribs.

So when he told me he was going to smoke some ribs for the Fourth of July, all I said was, "Tell me what kind and how many and I'll go to Gartner's."

Two days before the holiday (read about what it's like on July 3 and you'll see why I went early) found me heading in the door to find a moderate and friendly crowd, so I took a number and waited my turn. Dave had decided to take advantage of both grills on the smoker, so I walked out with four racks of baby backs and a six pound brisket, the equivalent of about 12 pounds of meat.

Nearly done (you can just see the brisket on the rack beneath them).

In his research he'd run across a website that suggested rolling the racks into cylinders and securing them with a skewer, so he was able to get all four racks on one grill, leaving the lower grill for the brisket. Which, conveniently, also meant that all the juicy goodness that dripped off the ribs would fall directly onto the brisket, bathing it in fatty, smoky deliciousness.

He was going for a long, slow smoke this time, keeping the temperature between 200° and 225° for at least eight hours on the brisket to try to get it to the point of dissolving, with the ribs coming off an hour beforehand.

The result? Some of the most delicious ribs we've had anywhere, completely moist and tender. The brisket was very close to (but not quite) falling apart, indicating that there will be another attempt to achieve perfection, but it was amazingly tender and flavorful. Paired with a bean salad and my mom's potato salad, and with raspberry and blueberry shortcake for dessert, it was about as traditional a Fourth as it gets. Yankee Doodle, indeed!

Dave's Amazing Rib Rub and Barbecue Sauce

For the rib rub:
Adapted from Soaked, Slathered & Seasoned by Elizabeth Klarmel2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
3 shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

For the mop:
Adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen
1 1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 c. water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 dried ancho chile, seeded
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the dipping sauce:
3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. Bubbies pickle juice (or brine from jar of pickles)
1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3 shakes Worcestershire sauce

Take ribs out of refrigerator and set on counter for one hour to come up to room temperature. Remove the thin white membrane on the bone side to allow rub to penetrate both sides of racks. Combine all ingredients for the rub in a small mixing bowl. Smear ribs with rub, roll them up and place them in zip-lock plastic bags in the refrigerator overnight.

To make the mop sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process till finely chopped and combined. Pour into non-reactive mixing bowl or in an aluminum foil pan that will go in the smoker.

Remove ribs from zip-lock bags and roll up, securing them with skewers. Place in smoker with mop sauce. Brush with mop sauce after two hours and then every hour and a half after that. Maintain temperature of smoker between 200° and 225°. Ribs are done when meat starts pulling away from the bone.

While ribs cook, prepare the dipping sauce. Combine all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process till smooth. Pour into saucepan and simmer briefly but don't allow it to come to a boil. Remove from heat, cool and serve in a bowl on the side.

No comments: