Memorial Day Ribs 2016

So, I’ve been doing this for six years now. This year May was one for the weather books – we nearly didn’t (couldn’t) bbq outside. In the last week we’ve had flooding, tornadoes, and damage all around us. But today, the Sunday before Memorial Day, it was partly sunny and 90 degrees. It’s time to bbq ribs.

We had the usual suspects – with a twist: this year it’s baby back ribs, my variation of Memphis Dust rub, Barbie’s potato salad, beans, and a dessert.

Ingredients

(Meat)
2 slabs (~8 lbs) of baby back ribs

(Rub)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

Barbie’s potato salad was delicious! I didn’t try the dessert she made, but by the “yumm” and “this is good” comments I gathered it was delicious too.

Memorial Day ribs 2016The ribs were good, but it took a while to repair them. First off, they were the largest baby back ribs I’ve ever seen (3.7 lbs and 3.8 lbs). Second, I had the oven at 250 the whole time. I started cooking them at 12:30 PM, wrapped up without the rub in an aluminum pan; I brined them but forgot to rub them. I uncovered them at 2:30 and added rub. I covered them again at 3:30. I uncovered them at 4:30 and covered them again at 5:00. I left them covered until 7:00, when they finally showed signs of tenderness. I left them open while I started the grill. I put them in the grill from 7:30 to 8:00. We finally ate around 8:30. That was a long day of tending to ribs.

I think where I went wrong was the double cover of aluminum: foil in a pan. I think last year I put them on a baking sheet. Also, I thought last year I started with uncovered for 2 hours, then sauce, then covered for 2 hours. Also, I think these ribs were closer to St. Louis cut then baby back size.

Memorial Day Ribs 2015 – Don’t Mess With Success

I started thinking about my Memorial Day ribs back on May 1st. It’s a tradition now. I’ve made ribs on Memorial Day weekend for five years! I think last year’s ribs were the best, so I don’t want to mess with success. This year I’ll oven-bake them first, then finish them outside in a smoke-filled grill; weather permitting.

Although Memorial Day Memphis Style sounds cool, I can stop calling them Memphis style because they’re more of a combination of Central Texas style and dry, Memphis style ribs. There’ll be some kind of thick, tomato-based sauce on the table if we need it. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s.

The new phrase this year is “dry brining.” Basically dry brining is lightly salting the meat 1 to 2 hours before cooking. Last year, Meathead (remember him from AmazingRibs.com) removed the salt from his Memphis Dust rub recipe. Now he applies a dry brine for 2 hours then rubs the ribs with Memphis Dust.

Ingredients

(Meat)
3 slabs (~10 lbs) of St. Louis cut spare ribs

(Rub)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

(Charro beans)
1 lbs pinto beans
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lbs bacon

(Coleslaw)
1 lbs bag coleslaw mix
mayonnaise
buttermilk
white sugar
cider vinegar
lemon juice
salt
pepper

(Potato salad)
5 lbs Russet potatoes
mayonnaise
dill relish
sweet relish
yellow mustard

Make the sides

Vincent made charro beans.

Katie made coleslaw.

Barbie made potato salad.

Bake the ribs in the oven (4 hours)

Wash off the ribs, take off the membrane, and coat them with a thin layer of kosher salt; use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. While the ribs are brining, mix the rub ingredients together. After an hour, apply the rub and put the ribs in a 250 F oven uncovered, bone-side down, for 2 hours.

Take the ribs out, brush them with barbecue sauce, wrap them in aluminum foil, and put them back in the oven for another 2 hours. Now take the ribs out, carefully unwrap them, and check if the bones pull away from the meat. If not, wrap them up, put them in the oven, and come back and check on them again in 15 minutes. When the bones start to slide they’re ready for the grill.

Finish them on the grill (15 minutes)

You can finish them under the broiler in the oven or in a covered grill (outside). If you want to finish them in the oven, paint them with sauce, lay them in a baking pan, bones down, uncovered, about 6 inches from the broiler for 10 minutes.

If you want to finish them with a smokey grill, prepare the grill for indirect heat. When the temperature stabilizes (no flames with charcoal) place wood chips on the coals/flames. Place the ribs on the opposite side the grill from the coals/flames. Smoke the ribs for at least 15 minutes (YMMV). Check internal temperature or pull on the bones every 5 minutes.

Remember – Memorial Day isn’t about sales, or parties, or bbq. Memorial Day is about remembering fallen veterans.

Memorial Day Ribs 2014

Ladies and gentlemen it’s that time once again when we strive for tender ribs, tasty sides, and family time – it’s Memorial Day weekend 2014. Last year – you’ll recall – I smoked the ribs on the grill for 1 hour then oven-baked them for 3-4 hours. This year I’m going to reverse that process: oven bake first then finish up on the grill.

Inspiration from DeepSouthDish.com: Fall Off the Bone Oven Baked Pork Spareribs with Sweet & Spicy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Well, I delayed getting the ribs a little too long this year, and Kroger (our local grocery store) put spare ribs on sale on the Wednesday before Memorial Day (Monday). Needless to say they were sold out by Friday. All I had to pick from was plastic-wrapped, marinated St. Louis cut spare ribs (Chipotle or Kansas City flavored); I work with what I got. This will be different. I’m starting off with two slabs of marinated ribs. What is Kansas City flavor?

Bake Them

Remove the membrane. Put the rubbed (or marinated) ribs, uncovered, bones down, in an aluminum-lined baking pan. I use a disposable aluminum pan. Bake at 250 F for 2 hours.

MemorialDay2014-2hr-mark

Ribs for Memorial Day 2014 – 2 hour mark. Left one is coated with barbecue sauce. Right one awaits.

After 2 hours, pour off any fat/juice from the pan. Brush ribs liberally with your favorite barbecue sauce. Wrap (or cover them tightly) the ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 250 F for another 2 hours.

This time after 2 hours, check if the meat pulls away from the bone. If not, wrap them up and continue baking – check every 15 minutes – until you can pull on the bones and they start to slide out. Don’t exceed 1 hour on this step. When they’re tender pull them out of the oven.

Finish Them

You can finish them under the broiler in the oven or in a covered grill (outside). If you want to finish them in the oven, paint them with sauce, lay them in a baking pan, bones down, uncovered, about 6 inches from the broiler for 10 minutes.

If you want to finish them with a smokey grill, prepare the grill for indirect heat. When the temperature stabilizes (no flames with charcoal) place wood chips on the coals/flames. Place the ribs on the opposite side the grill from the coals/flames. Smoke the ribs for at least 15 minutes (YMMV). Check internal temperature or pull on the bones every 5 minutes.

Eat Them

MemorialDay2014-done

Ribs for Memorial Day 2014 – plate with ribs, potato salad, macaroni salad, andouille and boudin.

Everything (except gramma’s beans) turned out great. Ribs were good and tender. The macaroni salad and potato salad were tasty. I cooked regular sausage, boudin, and andouille to go with the ribs; they were OK. We’ll try the beans again tomorrow.

Memorial Day Ribs With A Twist: Smoked and Oven Baked Spare Ribs

Inspiration:

I like the recipe Oven Baked Ribs Spare Ribs from TheMeatSource.com, but I’m going to  add a twist: smoke in grill first, then finish in oven.

What You’ll Need:

  • Spare ribs, preferably cut St. Louis style (I used two racks of ribs)
  • Your favorite rib rub (I make my own sometimes)
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce & a bottle of liquid smoke
  • Roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Disposable, aluminum baking pan, at least 3 inches deep
  • Large paper bag (1 bag per 2 racks of ribs)
  • Outside grill set up for indirect heating
  • Wood chips for smoking in grills (hickory or mesquite)
  • About 6 hours of your spare time (get it)

Step 1: Wash the ribs and remove the membrane from the bone-side. If you didn’t buy St. Louis style ribs, cut off “the skirt” (a small piece of meat on one side that sticks out) so that the rack of ribs look more rectangular. Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with your rib rub. Place the ribs in the baking pan, bone-side down, and cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil to keep the bugs out. Let them sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Step 2: Now for the twist: smoke them outside in the grill. Add your favorite wood chips in the grill and stabilize the temperature between 225 and 250 Fahrenheit. Place the ribs in a rib-stand and place the stand on the side away from the heat – i.e. the indirect heat method. Keep an eye on the temperature and smoke them for 1 hour.

MemorialDayRibs2013

Step 3: Pre-heat your oven to 300 Fahrenheit. Place the ribs in to the baking pan and seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil. (I actually put some sauce on them before I sealed them in the pan.) Place the baking pan in the center of the oven. Bake ribs for 1 hour.

Step 4: Remove the foil from the pan, and drain any fat from the pan. Place ribs back in the baking pan, bone-side down. Leave the foil off. Bake ribs for 1 hour.

Step 5: Drain any fat from the pan. Slather both sides of the ribs with barbecue sauce. Bake ribs for 1 hour or until meat separates from bone. (This should not take more than 2 hours.)

Step 6: Turn off the oven. Remove the pan from the oven, and wrap the rack of ribs in foil. Place the ribs in a paper bag, and fold the top of the bag tightly closed. Let the bag of ribs sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

MemorialDayRibs2013end

You are now a BBQ God! …so on the seventh hour, he rested, and enjoyed the fall-off-the-bone spare ribs. Amen.

Personal Notes:

I have a 3-burner gas grill and even 1 burner on low is too hot, so I bought an aluminum charcoal lighting box and put about 20 briquettes in it. It produced a lower, stable temperature. I could have kept feeding it briquettes, but I didn’t want to watch the temperature all day on my inaccurate thermometer.

(Originally published Nov 28, 2011)

Memorial Day Ribs – The Tradition Continues

I know I said last year I was done with ribs. I know I should have read my blogs again to remind myself that me and ribs are not meant to be, but time heals all wounds and how quickly we forget.

This year I used a different technique hoping a avoid last year’s failure.

I bought 3 racks of St. Louis style ribs from Kroger’s. In hind sight I think I could have gotten away with 2 racks. We had baked beans, salad, and corn on the cob; never made it to the watermelon. Maybe we’ll turn the left overs into pulled pork via the slow cooker.

Defrost the ribs

Defrost the ribs.

First, marinate the ribs in apple juice for 2 hours.

Marinate in apple juice

Marinate in apple juice

Next, I coated both sides in Gulden’s spicy brown mustard.

Coat with mustard

Coat with mustard.

Next, I coated both sides in Nolan Ryan’s BBQ rub. It was spicy, but not too spicy.

Coat with rib rub

Coat with rib rub

Then, the ribs cooked on the grill – indirect heat of course – for 3 hours at between 200 and 300 degrees. (I think the unsteady temperature is the primary reason for my rib failures.)

Next, I bathed the ribs in sauce and wrapped them in aluminum foil. They went back on the grill for another 2 hours.

Bath in sauce

Bath in sauce.

Finally, I took them off the grill and let them rest for nearly an hour. They weren’t fall off the bone, but they weren’t tough either. I still haven’t found my holy grail, my fountain of youth, my….Maybe next year. (Maybe next year I’ll wise-up and buy the cooked ribs.)

Cut up the ribs and enjoy

Cut up the ribs and enjoy.

But seriously, temperature is the number one factor to effect tenderness. I think I need a good thermometer and I need to stabilize the temperature.

 

Grilled Eggplant Moussaka

Here is a recipe I took from allrecipes.com and modified a little. It makes 8 servings, so you’ll need two 9×13 glass baking dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 ounces feta cheese
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 eggplant
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 onions
  • 2-1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 2-1/4 pounds zucchini

My Notes:

I only have one kind of olive oil on any given day. Extra-virgin or not, it makes no difference to me.

Directions:

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds, slice potatoes into thin (1/8 inch) rounds, slice zucchini length-wise about 1/4 inch slices. Brush with olive oil.

Grill the eggplant, potato, zucchini until tender. Heat the grill to high heat before laying on the vegetables. As grill comes up to temperature, rub the grate with half an onion that has some olive oil on the cut surface. The vegetables won’t stick to the grill grate, and they’ll have great grill marks. In the baking dishes, layer potato, then eggplant, then zucchini. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Melt butter in pan, mix in flour, and toast mixture for 5 minutes. Mix in milk, nutmeg and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes. Slowly whisk together the egg yolk and 1/4 cup of the milk mixture in a bowl. Quickly combine this mixture with the remaining milk mixture. Set aside.

Brown the ground meat and drain the grease. Add onion, oregano, parsley, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and heat on medium-low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spread the meat mixture over the vegetables, sprinkle feta cheese on top, then spread milk mixture on top of that. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. It should be golden brown on top when it’s done.

Oven Baked Spare Ribs v. 1.0

My wife wanted to try this recipe for oven baked spare ribs. Her recipe – or specifically her mom’s recipe – is very simple.

Start with ribs on a rack in a pan, and lay tin foil on top of the meat so it doesn’t burn (don’t wrap). Cook at 350° F for 4 hours.

Take the tin foil off, flip over (bones up), and bast with barbecue sauce. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Turn over (meat up) bast with barbecue sauce. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Repeat the turning process until ribs are tender.

This recipe was originally meant for baby back ribs and the result was semi-tough ribs – like all of our other tries. There has to be a secret recipe out there somewhere for fall-off-the-bone spare ribs.

St. Louis Spare Ribs

Ribs on the grill at 12 noon

This Memorial Day weekend (2011) I wanted to do something different than last year’s Memorial Day Memphis Style. I was inspired by a video on YouTube called “St Louis Spare Ribs” and the information I read on the BBQ Pit Boys website, Barbecue Web.

Preparation

I started by buying 9 lbs (2 slabs) of spare ribs from the butcher on Friday before Memorial Day. I had them trim the ribs “St. Louis style” which means they cut off the “knuckles” or the gristly rib tips on the edge opposite the “baby back” cut.

On Sunday, I started at 8 AM by trimming the flap of meat and fat off the meat side and removing the membrane on the bone side. I also cut each slabs in half. Then I spread on a thin layer of regular yellow mustard – the key ingredient to tangy St. Louis barbecue taste – and the rub.  Then I put the ribs in the refrigerator at 9 AM to let them get happy for 3 hours. I planned on starting the low and slow cooking at 12 noon.

For my rub I made a variation of the Amazing Ribs, Meathead’s Memphis Dust Rub Recipe:

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons rosemary powder

I set up my grill with the left burner on low and a 13×10 drip pan on the right. I filled the pan with about 1/2 inch of apple juice, put the ribs in a rib stand, and put the rib stand into the pan. I added the rib stand this year because I thought the tilted grate method last year didn’t expose the ribs enough to the heat and moisture. This year I found the perfect sized pan, but the problem with the stand is that it’s too big to go into the pan the correct way – so that the ribs rest on the sides of the stand. So, I had to improvise and I put a strip of tin foil down the middle of the inverted stand and let the ribs drape over the strip.

Cooking

Ribs at 5 PM

The key is 225°F for five to six hours. Open the lid sparingly (get it spare ribs, sparingly). As Meathead says, if the lid is open, you aint cooking.

My grill isn’t the most consistent thing on the market and I admit I’m cheap when it comes to thermometers so I just use an oven thermometer. My grill will vary by as much as 50 degrees with less than a 1/4 inch turn of the dial. I have to check it every 1/2 hour to make sure it’s not too hot or too cool.

Results

I cooked the ribs for a total of 5 hours. I flipped the ribs in the stand at 2 hours in and 4 hours. In hour 4 I added some locally made, but pre-cooked, sausage. At 5 PM I took a knife to the ribs to test the tenderness – they weren’t tender.

I took the ribs in and put them in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes. That didn’t help. They came out tough.

All that work and money up in smoke, literally. I give up. No more ribs from me.

On the flip side, the sausage was tough but good. The corn wasn’t quite what my wife was aiming for, but the pinto beans came out pretty good.

 

 

Luigi’s, not so much

Here is the review I posted on OpenTable.com about Luigi’s Patio Ristorante:

We we’re seated in the ‘villa’ section which has concrete floors and a vaulted wooden ceiling. It was nicely decorated, but 1 large party made enough noise in the room that my wife and I could hardly hear each other. My comment to her was, ‘How much does it cost to sit out in the patio area.’ (ambiance 3 stars)

We had two servers stopping by every 5 minutes (1 in training maybe?) – we felt a little rushed. That coupled with the noise was the opposite of a relaxed Italian meal. (service 3 stars)

The food tasted fresh; however, both our meals were not what we expected: too much of one ingredient not enough of the traditional ingredients. (food 3 stars)

Now we know Luigi’s, not so much.

The restaurant was beautifully decorated. The servers were attentive. The food was good.

Design quirks like concrete floors and wooden ceilings make putting 20 people a mistake.

The microscopic table combined with a server in training and trainer hovering right behind made us conscious of two servers there at all times.

My veal scallopini (Saltimbocca alla Romana) came with scalloped potatoes covered with a cheese blanket and chefs vegetables. The veal had some breading and was smothered in a prosciutto and sage sauce; odd. My wife ordered the chicken parmigiana (Pollo Parmigiana allo Stile di Luigi). It was chicken smothered in a deep red tomato sauce. It was a little too much. She said maybe serve the chicken on top of a bed of pasta with a little sauce on  the side.

We also kept comparing it to other restaurants in the area. Needless to say, there were other places that we like more. So we decided, Luigi’s, not so much.

Memorial Day Memphis Style

This is going to be a social media experiment. I want to share my experience as I cook ribs, and maybe get some feedback along the way. I’ll update this post along the way.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and I want to try a new rib rub, Meathead’s Memphis Dust Rub Recipe. I already made wet Memphis ribs back in February, but now it’s hot outside (95 F) and it’s a holiday weekend. Next to July 4th, I think Memorial Day is the best day to bbq. So, this time I’m going dry and rubbed; sauce will be on the table.

Ingredients

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons rosemary powder

2 quarts apple juice

Sides

Now, what sides? On Friday, I asked my wife if she would make potato salad. She wanted to make a pasta salad recipe that she found online. I thought maybe a 3-bean salad or corn or baked beans would make a good side dish. That’s how our ‘chat’ online usually goes: we throw out a bunch of ideas and pick one. Well, this time we picked them all. Saturday we went to the store and bought beans for the salad, corn, pasta, fresh parsley, fresh rosemary and a bunch of other things to make all but the baked beans.

Oh yeah, I also bought a big disposable roasting pan. I suggest that you get a slab of ribs and put it in the pan to see if it fits. I made that mistake with the brisket last year. I also bought mesquite chips and a small disposable pan to put them in.

Preparation

Saturday night while I was preparing the ribs, she was busy making 3-bean salad and pasta salad – from scratch! She was cutting herbs, cooking pasta and beans and bacon, mixing, tasting – hum. That was so time consuming and exhausting that the potato salad would have to wait until Sunday.

My rib rub was a little different from the Memphis Dust ingredients. First, I couldn’t find ginger powder or rosemary powder and I didn’t feel like making them myself. I added about 1 tablespoon ground cumin instead. Second, 1/2 cup paprika is a lot! I ran out at 1/4 cup so that’s all I used. The final rub was plenty spicy so I left out cayenne.

I sprinkled the rub on the meat side of the ribs, wrapped them up in plastic-wrap, and put them in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

Grill

I have a three-burner gas grill so indirect cooking isn’t too hard. I just turn on the left burner and place the pan on the right side of the grill. It is important to let the grill heat up and stabilize between 220 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

I poured about 1 quart of apple juice into the roasting pan, placed it on the right side of the grill, and heated the grill until it stabilized at about 220 degrees.

As you can see from the picture, the pan was a little too big for grill and I had to shape it a little to get it to fit.

Every few hours I would check the apple juice level and added more mesquite chips. You don’t want to open the lid too much because it lowers temperature and lets out all of the smokey, steamy, apple goodness. I think it took about 5 hours for my ribs to finish cooking.

Results

It was hot outside that day – at least 95 degrees. I tried to make a video, but I don’t like it too much.

All in all everything turned out pretty good. The ribs were tender, the potato salad was creamy, the bean salad was crisp, and the p

asta salad was still good (after more ranch dressing).

As for the social media part, well, there wasn’t any. I guess I don’t have a big enough following because no one tweeted any suggestions. No one posted on my facebook wall how long to cook ribs or what temperature. And my video only got about 70 views in 1 year, and I was probably half of those.

As for take aways I’d say if you want social media interaction for anything you need keep a lot of people interested. You also need to put out the word well in advance. I made a good rub. I cooked the ribs for enough time to make them tender. Next time I either need a bigger grill or smaller ribs and pan.


Memorial Day Memphis Style