Robust Ribs

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I’ve been waiting to try out Carnivore BBQ’s Robust sauce, and these baby back ribs were the perfect opportunity.

Preparation

These are minimalist ribs. I did little to prepare them except to remove the membrane on the back side of the ribs and rub a generous coating of Dizzy Pig’s Dizzy Dust into both sides of them about an hour before they went on the smoker.

The Cook

I set up my Big Green Egg for a direct cook at 225 to 250°F. I didn’t use a heat diffuser or drip pan, but I did set my grate on a Woo 2 to give me 8 inches of clearance above the firebox. Still, I wanted a low, even fire so I only filled my firebox about 3/4 of the way up and made sure I had a uniform layer of well- packed lump charcoal.

I lit the charcoal and once the fire was well-established across the entire firebox, I added a couple of chunks of smoking wood (guava, this time) and adjusted the vents to bring the temperature at the grate down to 225°F

I arranged the ribs bone side down on the grate, closed the lid, and let them smoke undisturbed for an hour. I misted the ribs with a 50/50 mixture of cider vinegar and Licor 43 (rum or bourbon would work just fine, too) and flipped them meat side down. I let them cook for another hour, flipped and misted. At hour 4, I just misted the ribs, but left them meat side up.

After the ribs had been on 4 1/2 hours total,  I started checking for doneness. Ribs are done when a full slab will “break” or almost fold in half and start to crack when you pick up one end with a pair of tongs. At this point the meat should also have pulled back from the bone at least half an inch from the end of the bones and a gentle tug on a couple of adjacent bones shows that they will come apart easily.

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These racks of ribs where done at about 4 hours and 45 minutes. At that point I brushed on a thick coating of  Carnivore BBQ’s Robust sauce and let them cook for another 15 minutes. I sauced them lightly again, removed them from the smoker, and let them sit 10 minutes before serving.

Results

I gotta say, these are the best ribs I’ve ever made, period. They were smokey and tender with a good bark and they pulled apart with little effort. The Carnivore BBQ’s Robust sauce provides a lot of flavor and heat. It hits you right up front, and then the heat lingers for quite a while. Not an overly hot sauce, but not too sweet or tangy either.  It really worked to bring all of the other flavors together and rounded them out nicely.

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Brined, Smoked, and Brandied Pork Chops

This is my take on the Pork Chops in Brandied BBQ Peach Sauce recipe from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse.

The folks at Dinosaur start with grilled, center-cut pork chops. I went with  brined and smoked 2-inch thick chops that I cut from the rib end of a pork loin. While they’re not quite as tender as center cut chops, they have plenty of flavor and the brining keeps them very moist.

Brined
4-5 thick-cut pork chops
4 cups water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Bring the water to a boil and add the salt, molasses, vinegar, and peppercorns. Reduce heat and stir until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Arrange the chops in a lidded plastic container or zip-top bag. Cover with the brine, making sure all of the chops are submerged. Seal and let the chops sit in the brine in the refrigerator for no more than 2 hours.

Smoked
While the chops are brining, set up the grill for an indirect cook that will burn for at least 2 hours at 225 to 250°F. Use a drip pan under the grid to catch the fat. Once the grill is up to temperature, add the smoking wood. I like apple word for pork chops. If using a gas grill, place 2-4 cups of soaked wood chunks in the smoker box. If using a charcoal grill, toss a fist-sized lump right into the coals.

Remove the chops from the brine and arrange them on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 30 minutes. Flip the chops and continue to cook until the chops reach and internal temperature of 145°F, about another 30 to 45 minutes. Remove chops to a plate and keep warm.

Brandied
1 pound fresh peaches
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel peaches by cutting an “x” into flesh on the bottom of of each peach and submerging them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water and the skins should peel right off. Pit peaches and cut them into medium slices.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and saute ginger until soft. Add peach slices and brown sugar. Stir until everything is well combined and the peaches have begun to soften. Add the 1/4 c. of brandy and very carefull ignite. Cook until flame dies. Add BBQ sauce, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Ladle sauce over pork chops and serve with Dinosaur’s potato salad.

Baby Back Ribs

If I had to pick a cut of meat that benefits the most from the art of barbecue, it would be the lowly rib. It’s amazing what the proper application of smoke, spice, and a low flame does to this otherwise tough and fatty piece of pig.

I’m partial to baby backs, the ribs that come from closest to the backbone, underneath the loin muscle. They are generally leaner, more tender, very tasty, and a quicker cook than their spare rib cousins. While there are a lot of good rib recipes out there,  this is my sure-fire, simple, no-frills recipe that consistently produces good results with a minimum of fuss.

Preparation

The night before the cook, prepare the ribs by removing the membrane on the back side of the ribs and trimming any large amounts of fat or stray flaps of meat. Slather both sides of the ribs with a thin coating of yellow ballpark-style mustard. This acts as a marinade. The vinegar in the mustard helps make the ribs moist and tender, and it gives the rub something to hold on to.

Apply a generous coating of your favorite rib rub. This basic rub works great. The rub adds not only a whole medley of flavors, but helps to form a nice bark – a dark brown crust on the meat.  Start on the back side and apply a medium-heavy coating, actually working it into the ribs with your fingers. Turn the ribs over and put a heavier coating on the top side, also working it in.

Wrap the slabs in plastic wrap and store them overnight in the fridge. By morning the mustard will have almost disappeared, melting into the rub and forming a glaze on the ribs.

The Cook

Set up your grill for an indirect cook that will burn for at least 6 hours at between 225 to 250°F. Use a drip pan under the ribs to catch the fat.

Once the grill is up to temperature, add your smoking wood. If using a gas grill, place 2-4 cups of soaked wood chunks in the smoker box. If using a charcoal grill, toss a fist-sized lump right into the coals.

Take the ribs straight from the fridge, unwrap, and arrange bone side down on the grate. Use a rib rack if you need more room. Close the lid and for the first 2 hour of the cook, do nothing – no peaking, no looking, no touching, no nothing. The more often the lid gets opened the less actual cooking is going on and the greater the chance that they’ll dry out.

After the ribs have been on for 2 hours, flip the slabs. Cook for another hour and flip one more time.  Again, no peeking. Continue cooking bone side down until the ribs have been on about 4 hours total, then start checking for doneness.

When they are done, a full slab will “break” or almost fold in half and start to crack when you pick up one end with a pair of tongs. At this point the meat should also have pulled back from the bone at least half and inch from the end of the bones and a gentle tug on a couple of adjacent bones shows that they will come apart easily.  Expect around 5 to 6 hours of total cooking time to get to this point.

Once the ribs are done it’s time to sauce. Purists will skip this step, but I like a little sweetness added at to the ribs at the end of the cook. I think it helps to balance the flavors and keeps the bark a little chewy. For a commercial sauce, I like Bone Suckin’ BBQ sauce. If you want to make your own, my Thick & Tangy BBQ Sauce – v2.0 is particularly good on ribs. Sauce both sides with a light coating, put the ribs back on for 15 minutes, then sauce them again just on top.

Remove the ribs from the grill and let them stand for 10 minutes before serving.

More Canadian-Style Bacon

I’ve been making my own Canadian-style bacon for the past couple of
years. I started out doing it because it was kind of fun and unique (in an old-timey-frontier-kind-of-way) to preserve my own food. But once I
got the hang of it, I realized that it really wasn’t that hard to make
Canadian-style bacon that tasted a lot better than the grocery store
brands at a fraction of the price.

Ingredients

1 boneless pork loin (8 to 10 pounds)
1 tablespoon Morton Sugar Cure (Plain) per pound of loin
1 teaspoon white sugar per pound of loin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper, ground
4 tablespoons maple syrup (for glazing)

Instructions

Trim excess fat and remove the silver skin from pork loin. Cut the
loin into two equal pieces.

Combine the Morton Sugar Cure, white sugar, brown sugar, and pepper.
Mix well. This is your dry cure. Place the loin pieces in a large
freezer bag and coat with the cure. Rub the cure into the meat,
covering all sides. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Store in
the refrigerator for 5 days, flipping the meat over once a day. Liquid
will begin to collect in the bag – this indicates that the cure is
working. Do not drain it off.

On the 6th day, remove the meat from the cure and soak in cold water
for 1-2 hours to remove some of the salt. Dry off the meat and
refrigerate uncovered for an hour.

Set up your grill or smoker up for an indirect cook at 225°F for at
least 4 hours. Once the cooker is up to temperature, add your smoking
wood (I like hickory for this recipe). If using a gas grill, place 2-4 cups of soaked wood chunks in
the smoker box. If using a charcoal grill, toss a couple of fist-sized lumps
right into the coals.

Cook at 225°F until the internal temperature of the loin hits 150°F,
about 3 hours. Baste the top side with half the maple syrup. Cook
another 20 minutes, flip and baste the other side with the remaining
syrup. Cook another 20 minutes or until the internal temperature
reaches 160°F

Remove from the smoker and let cool before cutting into 1/8 inch thick
slices.

Smoked Almonds

These are a great snack and are a whole lot cheaper and tastier than the commercial variety.

  • 1 pound of raw almonds
  • 1T kosher sea salt
  • 1t peanut oil
  • 1T honey
  • 1-2T of your favorite barbecue rub
  • Enough water to cover almonds

I dissolved the salt into the water, added the almonds, and let them soak overnight. The next day I let them drain in a colander for about thirty minutes, and then put them in a mixing bowl.

I coated the almonds with the oil, mixing them with a large spoon until they were well-coated. I added the honey and mixed them again. Finally I gave them a good coating of the rub and mixed them one last time.

I set the Big Green Egg up for and indirect cook at 250°F using hickory for smoke. The almonds were spread out into a single layer on a pizza pan. I smoked them for 5 minutes, gave them a little shake and another light dusting of rub, and then let them smoke until they got dark and crunchy – about 20 minute total.

Blue Diamond eat your heart out.

Bacon – Buckboard and Canadian-style

Bacon

Who doesn’t love bacon? Smokey, salty, crispy – it’s one of the best things to ever happen to a pig. But lately I’ve not been very impressed with the quality of the commercial brands, or the price of the specialty bacon, so I decided to try my hand at making it myself. I wanted something a little leaner than American streaky bacon, so I started with a small 7-pound pork butt (shoulder roast) and a 5-pound loin instead of the more traditional belly meat.

First I needed to cure the meat. I went with a combination of a 1/2 cup plain white sugar and a 1/2 cup Morton’s Sugar Cure. This made up the dry cure. I put the butt and loin into their own large freezer bags and coated them with two tablespoons of the dry cure for each pound of meat – so the butt got 14 tablespoons and the loin got 10.

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