This Little Piggy is Going to the Fair

Pomegranate Pig Spareribs

Sunday was kind of a big day for me – I entered my Pomegranate Pig Barbeque Sauce in the Minnesota State Fair’s Creative Activities competition. You have never in your life seen a grown man so nervous about the care and well-being of two little jars of sauce as I was that day.

Pomegranate Pig Barbeque Sauce
4 cups raw or dark brown sugar
2 cups honey
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coarse-ground black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated onion
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine sugar, honey, paste, vinegar, Worcestershire, molasses and salt. Wisk to combine. Bring to a boil.. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust for sweetness, acid, umami, and salt. Note – I added another 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt at this point.

Turn the heat off and add the garlic, chili powder, paprika, pepper, onion, vanilla, cayenne, sage, thyme, allspice, zest, nutmeg, and cumin. Wisk to combine.

Bring to a boil again then reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Reduce heat to lowest setting and let sauce cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Bottle and store in the fridge. Makes about 3 1/2 pints.

For the competition, I canned the sauce in 1/2 pint jars. I filled the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space, sealed them, and then processed them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes at 10 p.s.i.

I should know the results early next week. Wish me luck!

Pomegranate Pig Spare Ribs

Pomegranate Pig Spareribs

I have been craving ribs constantly a lot lately. Generally when I think ribs, I’m thinking of baby backs – those meltingly tender short ribs from the loin of the pig. But just to switch things up, I went with spare ribs for this cook.

Spares ribs sit below the baby backs and come from the from the belly side of the pig’s rib cage. Because they do more work (the whole breathing thing), spares have tougher muscles and more connective tissue. That means they also have a richer flavor, but it can be tough to get them tender (think of the difference between a filet mignon and a sirloin).

A full rack of spare ribs includes part of the chine (breast) bone and the connective tissue between the chine and the ribs themselves. I trimmed all of the non-rib bits off to make a St.Louis-style rack that is easier to handle and cooks more evenly. I also removed the tough membrane that covered the bone side of the ribs to let more flavor in.

After the ribs were trimmed, I gave them a generous dusting of Plowboys Yardbird Rub and then stashed them in the fridge while I got the Big Green Egg fired up.

I set the Big Green Egg up for a raised direct cook at 250°F, using a Woo2 ring to get the cooking grate further from the heat. When the Egg was up to temp I added some persimmon wood for smoke and put the ribs on.

Spare ribs take 5 to 6 hours to cook. I started them bone side down and then flipped them end-to-end and top-to-bottom ever hour. At hour 5 they started showing signs of doneness – meat pulling back from the bone, and meat cracking when I lifted up the rack at the end. I checked the internal temp (love my Thermapen for this as it can get right into the middle of the rib meat) and it read 180°F. Pretty much perfect.

I sauced the ribs on both sides with Pomegranate Pig Barbeque Sauce and let them cook for 10 minutes. I sauced the meat side and let them go for another 10, then sauced the meat side again and moved them off to a plate to rest for 10 minutes.

Pomegranate Pig Spareribs

The Verdict: ★★★★★
These have got to be among the best ribs I’ve ever made! Love the Plowboys rub and the way it works with the sweet tangyness of the sauce. Even though I cooked these raised over direct heat (no plate setter to diffuse the heat), they came out moist and tender. I like ribs cooked to the ever-so-slightly-not-yet-falling-off-the-bone point, and I nailed that here.

My only (very minor) disappointment is that the persimmon wood didn’t give me as much smoke flavor as I would have liked.

The Nutrition:
A four bone serving is about 600 calories and 10 Weight Watchers points.

One year ago – 1st Carnitas of the Year
Two years ago – Badly Bungled Black ‘n’ Bleu Bon Voyage

Sassafras Smoked Salmon Salad with Shallot & Poppy Seed Dressing

Salmon Salad

Sassafras Smoked Salmon Salad – try saying that five times fast.

I was down in central Iowa and made a stop at Hawgeyes BBQ to pick up some supplies. They had sassafras smoking wood, which I’d never seen before. One sniff of that sweet, anise/root beer aroma and I knew I had to smoke some salmon with it.


The Salmon

2 salmon fillet, preferably wild-caught
2 tablespoons raw or brown sugar per pound of fish
2 tablespoons kosher salt per pound of fish
2 tablespoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning

Combine the salt, sugar, and Bay seasoning in a small bowl and mix well. This is the cure.

Lay the fillets flat in a zip-top bag. Cover both sides of the fillet with the cure mixture. Seal the bag and place in fridge for at least 12 hours, but no more than 24 hours. Turn the fillets over every 3-4 hours.

Remove the fish from cure, rinse well in cold water and pat dry. Place the fish skin-side down on a rack. Move to the fridge to dry until surface is dry but slightly sticky to the touch – 1 to 3 hours.

Set up your grill for a 3 hour indirect cook at 225°F. Add your smoking wood (sassafras, of course) and smoke until the fillet hits 160°F internal and starts to flake – about 2 hours.

sassafrassmokedsalmon

Smoked salmon freezes nicely, so I smoked 2 fillets and Food-Savered off all but about 12-ounces for this salad.

The Dressing
1 large shallot, quartered
1 tablespoon brown or Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds

Put the shallot and salt in a blender and pulse to mince the shallot. Add the vinegar and let sit for at least 5 minutes to sweeten the shallot. Add the mustard, honey, and vinegar. Blend to combine. With the blender running, pour in 2 or 3 drops of oil, then continue pouring the oil in a thin stream until all of the oil is emulsified into the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in the poppy seeds, bottle, and stash in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

I served this as a make-your-own salad with mixed greens and an assortment of toppings.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
In the summer, I make a batch of this dressing up at least once a week. It’s the crack of the salad dressing world – rich, sweet, and tangy, and it goes together quickly, tastes good on a wide variety of salads, and doesn’t separate in the fridge. What’s not to love?

The salmon came out sweet and salty with a subtle root beer taste that worked really well with the Chesapeake Bay seasoning. Can’t wait to make up a batch of dip with the rest of the fillets.

The Nutrition:
It’s salmon and veggies – go easy on the dressing and you’ll be fine.

One year ago – Luxury Stainless Cooking Grid
Two years ago – The Perfect Margarita

Pomegranate Pig Barbecue Sauce – Update

Pomegranate-Pig-Barbeque-Sauce

I am still working on perfecting a barbecue sauce for the upcoming graduation party. My last version of the Honey Hog sauce was very good, but after repeated tastings it just wasn’t quite what I wanted. I ended up cutting it 50/50 with cider vinegar and will use it as a finishing sauce when I reheat the pork.

Rather than continue to tweak existing recipes, I started from scratch. I wanted a “Gee-wiz! Woosh-bang!” kind of sauce that could just about knock the bun off. I decided that the key to getting this is the sweet/tart flavor of the pomegranate molasses and the way it complements rich, smoky meats. This recipe lets it take the starring role.

2 cups raw or dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup (Karo, not the high-fructose stuff)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine sugar, syrup, paste, vinegar, Worcestershire, molasses and salt. Wisk to combine. Bring to a boil (careful as it will foam up and bite you). Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. This is your sauce base. If it doesn’t taste great, the rest of the ingredients aren’t going to save it. Taste for sweetness, acid, umami, and salt. Adjust accordingly.

Turn the heat off and add the garlic, chili powder, paprika, pepper, onion, vanilla, cayenne, sage, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, and cumin. Wisk to combine.

Bring to a boil again then reduce heat to lowest setting and let sauce cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Bottle and store in the fridge. Makes about 1 quart.

First Impression
I’ll wait until after the party to give a final verdict on this sauce, but the initial tasting went really well. This is a syrupy sauce, but despite all the sugar, it has a lighter mouth feel than you would expect. The tang of the vinegar and pomegranate molasses help even the taste out, and there is just enough heat and spice to make it interesting.

I’ll let you know what the crowd has to say.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
We have a winner!

I got the pulled pork and the Pomegranate Pig sauce all set up for the graduation party and then left to go get dressed. By the time I got back the work crew and the graduate-to-be were happily performing quality checks and declared that the pork was wonderful and the barbecue sauce was the “best I’ve ever tasted.” 🙂

Everyone LOVED the Pomegranate Pig sauce – people were putting it on the hot dogs, stirring it into in the baked beans, and even squirting it on their fingers and then licking them off. I take that all as a good sign.

The sauce was thick, sweet, tangy, and complex. The sweetness hit first, but it wasn’t heavy and was quickly replaced by the pomegranate’s fruity tang. The herbs and spices followed with a nice black pepper note in the middle and some lingering heat at the end. I was afraid all the sweetness might make it a one-hit-wonder, but this stuff sang like a a full orchestra.

All-in-all, great party, had a good time and am glad everyone liked the pulled pork, but am also glad I’ve got about 8 years before I need to do another one of these ;).

Grilled Pork Chops with Orange-Fennel Mostarda

Pork Chops Mostarda

Mostarda?

Yeah, I’d never heard of it either, but thanks to Food52 I got to give this chutney-ish Italian condiment a try.

The Brine
4 thick-cut, pork chops
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

I got a whole pork lion and cut it into 4 nice and thick chops and 2 roasts for later.
I got a whole pork loin and cut it into 4 nice and thick chops and 2 roasts for later.

Mix the salt and sugar into the hot water and stir to dissolve. Stash in fridge to cool. Once it is cool, arrange the chops in a single layer in a shallow non-reactive dish (a glass pie plate works well) and then pour the brine over top. Let this sit for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours before cooking.

The Orange-Fennel Mostarda
1/2 of a small fennel bulb, diced
1 navel orange
1 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt

Place the fennel, mustard seeds, sugar, vinegar, and water into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

While this is cooking, grate the orange peel (I use a microplane grater) to get 1 teaspoon of zest.

Mostarda

Peel the orange, removing as much of the pith as you can along with any seeds, rind or stringy bits. Dice the orange segments (I found it easiest to pull the orange in half and slice each half across the segments) and add to the sauce pan.

Bring the mixture back to a boil for 5 minutes, Reduce heat and simmer until the orange has broken down and the mustard seeds have plumped up and softened and the mostarda takes on a marmalade-like consistency, about 30 minutes.

Mostarda

Stir in reserved orange zest and cook for 5 minutes more, then set aside to cool.

The Cook
Set up your grill for a direct cook over medium (350°F) heat.

Remove the chops from the brine and season them on both sides with your favorite rub (I used Dizzy Pig Raging River). Grill the chops 5 minutes on one side. Grill the chops 6 to 8 minutes per side (depending on how thick they are) until the internal temp hits 135°F (pork is done at 140°F, but I usually pull it at 135°F as the internal temp will rise as it rests).

Pork Chops Mostarda

Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with mostarda on the side.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
Wow! The chops themselves were tender and juicy, but add the sweet and savory mostarda and it’s a knockout.

Why only 4 stars? As good as the mostarda was, the mustard taste didn’t come through as strongly as I would have liked. I used brown mustard seeds, so maybe that makes a difference? I would add a teaspoon or so of grainy mustard to this nest time. Also, the original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of whole fennel seeds, which I was out of, and you could taste their absence.

On the plus side – I have big plans for this condiment! I can easily see it as the filling for a butterflied pork loin roast or as a pan glaze similar to what I did with the Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops recipe.

The Nutrition:
3 ounces of center-cut pork chops is 4 Weight Watchers points and 180 calories. The mostarda only adds 1 point and 50 calories per tablespoon.

One year ago – Have Ribs, Will Travel
Two years ago – Corned Beef Hash

Honey Hog Barbecue Sauce v3.0

Honey Hog Chicken

I’m getting ready to cook up a big pile-o-pork for a graduation party. I’d like to make all my own rubs and sauces for it, so I thought I’d start with a quart-sized batch of Honey Hog sauce.

1/2 cup honey
1 cup raw or turbinado sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
1 tablespoon half-sharp paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon allspice

Combine the tomato paste and sugar in a medium sauce pan and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the sugar melts into the paste.

Honey Hog Barbecue Sauce

Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stirring constantly, raise the heat a little until the sauce is bubbling away nicely. Keep stirring and cook until all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce starts to thicken a little bit (about five minutes).

Honey Hog Barbecue Sauce

Reduce the heat to low and let sauce cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Bottle and store in the fridge. Makes about 1 quart.

Honey Hog Chicken

Since you can only tell so much about a sauce while tasting it off of a spoon, I tried it on some grilled chicken thighs to get an idea of how it would work and play with others.

About 2 hours before cooking, I dusted some bone-in, skin-on thighs with a bit of salt, pepper, and paprika. I put them in a single layer on a sheet pan and let them sit uncovered in the fridge to let the seasoning work its way into the thighs and dry out the skin a bit to make it crispy.

I set the grill up for a raised indirect cook over medium (350°F) heat. I used the plate setter under the cooking grid on the Big Green Egg to diffuse the heat.

I put the thighs on the grill skin side up, closed the lid, and let them cook for 20 minutes. I flipped them and let them go another 20 minutes. I flipped them back skin side up and checked for doneness. While chicken is technically done when the juices run clear and the internal temperature hits 160°F, that leaves the thighs kind of rubbery. I like mine cooked a little longer to at least 180°F so the meat is tender and the skin is crisp.

This batch of thighs needed about 20 more minutes to hit 180°F. At this point I sauced them on both sides with the Honey Hog, put them back on for 10 more minutes, sauced them one last time and moved them to a warm plate and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Sometimes less is more. I basically doubled the main ingredients in the v2.0 recipe, but decided to leave out some of the herbs and spices that I didn’t think were key players. The result is a sauce that has a nice sweet and tangy tomato flavor with enough heat and spice to make it interesting. It’s not as complex as the previous version, but I like the clean, straight forward taste.

The sauce was lovely on the chicken thighs – adding a nice spicy sweetness. The thighs themselves were so crispy that biting into one was like biting into a slice of bacon. Mmmmmmmmmmmm… chicken bacon… mmmmmmmmmm…

The Nutrition:
3 ounces of chicken meat is only about 100 calories and 4 Weight Watchers points. The sauce maybe adds another 1/2 point per thigh.

One year ago – Spring Slow-Roasted Steaks
Two years ago – What Eggs are Supposed to Look Like

Plowboys Ribs

Plowboys Ribs

I had such nice results using Plowboys Yardbird Rub on chicken, that I just had to take them up on their “Created for Chicken but Made for Pork” tag line and try it on some baby-back ribs.

I went with a very minimal prep of the ribs, just removed the membrane on the bone side of the ribs and rubbed in a generous coating of Plowboys Yardbird Rub into both sides of them about an hour before they went on the Big Green Egg.

I have to say that whoever designed the jar for this rub is a genius – 14 ounces, so you’ve got plenty of rub to work with, and then this dual-function top has both big holes for easy shaking and a larger flap that lets you get a measuring spoon in there. Very nice.

Plowboys Ribs

I set up my grill for an indirect cook at 250°F. I filled the firebox with lump charcoal and used an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat and a drip pan with a little water in it to catch the fat.

I lit the charcoal just in the center, and once the temperature hit 250°F in the dome, I added a couple of chunks of apple wood for smoke. When the smoke changed from white (bad) to blue (good) I loaded up the ribs bone side down on the grate and let them cook for an hour.

I flipped the ribs bone side up and then let them cook for 2 more hours. After the ribs had been on for 4 hours total, I started checking for doneness. Ribs are generally done when a full slab will almost fold in half and start to crack when you pick up one end with a pair of tongs. These weren’t quite there yet.

I gave them another 30 minutes and checked again. The meat had just started to pull back from the end of the bones, but a gentle tug on a couple of bones showed that they weren’t ready to come apart yet.

I gave them another 30 minutes and checked again – much better. I brushed them with a thick coat of Honey Hog Barbecue Sauce and let them cook for another 15 minutes. I sauced them lightly again, cooked them for another 15 minutes, then removed them from the smoker and let them sit 10 minutes before serving.

Plowboys Ribs

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
The Plowboys Yardbird rub stood right up to smoke and the porky goodness of the ribs. In fact, it may be better on pork than on chicken. What I’m really liking about this rub is how it disappears – like a good background singer – you don’t hear them but you would sure miss them if they were gone. The rub enhances the natural flavors without getting in the way.

Why not a 5? We had a high of 6°F the day I cooked these, and the darker and colder it got the more those ribs sure looked like they were done. My bad. Another 30-45 minutes and they would have rocked.

The Nutrition:
Ribs will never be diet food, sorry, but I think I burned off most of the calories with all the shivering I did.

One year ago – Surf & Turf
Two years ago – Super Bowl Link Love

Plowboys Chicken

Plowboys Chicken

I had heard a lot of good reviews of Plowboys Yardbird Rub and finally picked some up this summer only to completely forget about it in the cupboard until last weekend. Bad Dave.

2 roasting chickens
1 tablespoon Plowboys Yardbird Rub (or your favorite rub) per pound of chicken

Clean and rinse the chickens, then pat them dry. Butterfly (a.k.a. spatchcock) the birds by setting the bird in front of you, breast side down, and cutting up through the backbone with either a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife.

Now spread the bird open like a book and locate the keel bone that sits between the breasts. Nick it with a knife to get it to open up, but don’t cut all the way through. Flip the bird over and press down on the center of the bird until it lies pretty flat.

Rub both sides of the birds with the rub, working it under the skin a bit. Set the birds skin side up on a pan (I use a large jellyroll pan) and put them in the fridge, uncovered, for at least an hour. This not only lets the rub do its flavorful thing, but also helps dry out the skin a bit so it stays crispy.

Set your grill up for a raised direct cook at medium-high (400°F) heat. I used an extender to move the cooking grate up higher in the Big Green Egg’s dome. This way the chicken is getting cooked with a nice, large, even amount of heat on both sides and I still get the smoky flavor from the chicken fat dripping on the coals.

Plowboys Chicken

When your grill is up to temp, arrange the chickens on the grate skin side up. Close the lid and let them cook for 20 minutes. Flip and cook skin-side down for 20 minutes. Flip again and cook skin-side up until the chicken is done – 180°F internal in the thickest part of the thigh or until the leg joint moves easily and the juices run clear.

Remove chicken from grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Plowboys Yardbird Rub

Overall Verdict: ★★★★½
Plowboys Yardbird rub is an award-winning rub developed for competing at professional barbecue events. It is a savory, slightly parka-heavy rub that hits all the right notes – enhancing the flavor with a bit of sweetness and heat and adding ruddy hue to the meat without overwhelming the meat itself.

I enjoyed this rub on the chickens and, since “Created for Chicken but Made for Pork” is their tag line, I can’t wait to try it on ribs.

The Nutrition:
3 ounces of chicken meat is only about 100 calories and 3 or 4 Weight Watchers points.

One year ago – Beef Short Ribs
Two years ago – Siberian Ribs

Poultry Rub

2 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
2 tablespoons dried sage
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Old Bay or Chesapeake Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine everything in a shaker jar and stir to mix and break up any lumps. Makes about 1/2 cup.

This is great as a dry rub, but I ‘m going to try mixing it with 1/2 cup of olive oil, let it steep overnight, and then slather the bird inside and out with it.

One year ago – A McRib it Ain’t
Two years ago – Holiday Anxiety

Jerk-ish Ribs

Did you remember to set your clocks back? I did (well, my dear wife did). While that extra hour of sleep was great, it doesn’t make up for the lack of sunlight in the evening. Soon it’ll get cold and I’ll be trudging back and forth to work in the dark, on foot, with snow on the ground, uphill both ways…

It’s joyous thoughts like that that make me yearn for warmer climes. To try and break my funk, I made up a rack of baby back ribs that packed a sweet heat reminiscent of jerk dishes I’ve had in the Caribbean.

The Marinade
1 rack baby back ribs
1 large shallot
4 to 6 Habanero or Scotch Bonnet peppers (4 were plenty for me)
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Wearing gloves, seed and devein the peppers. Put the salt, shallot, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the garlic and shallot are minced. Add the peppers, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, sugar, rum, lime juice, thyme, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and give them a whirl until they are well-combined. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for the barbecue sauce. Prep the ribs by removing the membrane on the bone side and trimming off any scraps of meat or excess fat. Put the ribs into a zip-top bag. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of the marinade over the ribs, turning to coat. Squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it, and stash in the fridge overnight.

The Barbecue Sauce
1 (11.3 ounce can) mango nectar
1/2 cup raw or brown sugar (divided)
1/4 cup marinade
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the mango nectar and 1/4 of the raw sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture has reduced to about 3/4 cup – about 10 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough that it starts to spit at you.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining raw sugar, reserved marinade, tamarind, and cider vinegar. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce starts to thicken a little bit (about five minutes). Bottle and store in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

The Cook
Set your grill up for a raised direct cook at 300°F. I didn’t use anything between the ribs and the fire to diffuse the heat, but did use a Woo2 extender to raise the cooking grid up about 4 inches further from the heat.

When the grill is up to temp, add your smoking wood (guava in this case), and when the smoke changes from white (bad) to blue (good), put the ribs on bone side down for an hour.

Flip the ribs bone side up and let them go for another hour. Flip the ribs back to bone side down and start checking signs of being done – the slab cracks when you pick up one end with a pair of tongs and the meat has started to pull back from the bones.

This rack started looking done at the 3 hour mark, so I slathered both sides with some of the barbecue sauce and put them back on bone side down for another 15 minutes. I slathered the meat side again and let them go another 15 minutes. I gave the meat one last coating of sauce and moved the rack off the grill to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
This was one fine rack of ribs – all the heat and spice of traditional jerk but with a sweet and fruity base. It was one of those eat, sweat, wipe brow, swig adult beverage, repeat, kind of meals.

Next time I would use about 2 cups of the thicker mango nectar you can buy in  refrigerated boxes in most mercados. This was the thinner Jumex canned version, and it just didn’t have oomph.

The Nutrition:
Ribs still won’t ever be diet food  – 460 calories for 8 ounces of meat (4 to 6 bones worth) and 12 Weight Watchers points. But they were sure the cure for the gray blahs.

One year ago – Achiote Oil
Two years ago – Suck Creek WFR Hot Sauce