Saturday, August 8, 2009

Madam's Ribs

I like to think of myself as a progressive, post modern type of gal. Marriage as a partnership of equals*. Bringing in my own paycheck, and paying my own bills. Go Sonia. Boo Sarah. Call me ma'am and I'll deck you. I am woman. Hear me roar. That sort of thing.

It's a lie.

When the cat brought the mouse into the bedroom, flung its mangled body on the carpet at the foot of our bed, and left, guess who was under the covers squealing, and who was in his bathrobe confronting the still writhing gift with a giant dustpan and a plastic bag?

When the telemarketers call, guess who says in a sweet trembling voice, "Gosh, my husband makes all of the financial decisions in our house. Can you call back later?**"

And guess who was convinced that barbecuing ribs was a "guy thing" and therefore required some y-chromosomal skill set that was far beyond my reach?

That's right. Me.

Or at least, it WAS me. In a small but critical step toward regaining my place among the pantheon of the liberated female class, I conquered ribs tonight. I am griller. Wimp no more***.

Baby Back Ribs with South Carolina Barbecue Sauce
Another winner from the Grilling Class at New School of Cooking

For the ribs:

3 racks of baby back pork ribs
3 tsp. salt (I used 2 tsp. of a hickory smoke flavored salt, and 1 tsp. regular)
1 heaping tsp. black pepper
1 heaping tsp. each paprika, ground cumin, dry mustard, ground sage, and chili powder
2 heaping Tbs. brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 325. Remove the thin membrane from the back side of the ribs by separating it at one of the bones and using your fingers to pull it off. It will make the ribs cook evenly and infinitely easier to eat. Combine the dry seasonings in a bowl, and rub all over the ribs. Place on large sheet pan, and bake for 1 hour.

While the ribs are cooking, make the sauce****:

2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped (I didn't have one, so left this out)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. salt (I used the hickory one again)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. dry mustard, preferably Colman's
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. ketchup
1 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. molasses
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
2 tsp. hot sauce
2 c. beef stock (I didn't have any beef stock, so I used chicken stock)

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Put in the onions, peppers (if you use them. I thought it was great without them), garlic, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Mix the dry ingredients (chili powder through brown sugar) in a small bowl, and then stir into the vegetables until they are well coated. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if the sauce gets too thick (mine didn't). It should be thick but easy to pour. Taste and adjust seasoning. The sauce will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a month.

To finish the ribs, heat your grill to medium. Place the ribs on the grill and cook about 5 minutes on each side with the lid closed. If you want to cook with the sauce, after each side has been grilled, baste the ribs with the sauce, turn and cook for another 5 minutes. Then baste the other side and grill for a final 5 minutes. Total grill time will be 20 minutes, 5 on each side without sauce and 5 on each side with sauce.

NOTE: We decided to baste two racks with sauce, and cook one rack for the same amount of time without because the sauce is tasty but SPICY and we were feeding kids. We passed the sauce on the side. Turns out that both ways were absolutely delicious.

I have no idea what I have been thinking all these years! Guy stuff is totally doable. Maybe I'll try to wire up the DVD player next...

ANOTHER NOTE: The side dish in the picture is fresh corn and scallion risotto. To make it, follow the recipe for Pesto Risotto. At the end, instead of folding in pesto, fold in about 1 1/2 -2 c. of fresh corn kernels that have been blanched for 3 minutes, 1/4 cup of finely chopped scallions, 2 Tbs. finely chopped basil, and 3/4 c. of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Summer in a bowl!

*He knows his way around the grocery store. I know my way around home depot. We both know our way around the nicer restaurants in town and the liquor cabinet in our house.
**Actually, this line is a huge inside joke around here:
Kids (giggling so guy on the phone can't hear) : Daddy making financial decisions for Mommy!? Good one!!
Husband (snickering): Nice! Did he ask for Mr. Graves again, too?
(More snorts and guffaws)
Me (shushing them all, putting on my wispy voice): I just leave all that to him, you know? He's so much better at it than I could ever be. I'll be sure to tell him you called!
(Hanging up quickly, I explode into laughter and we high five all around.)
*** I also cleaned up all the mouse guts on the carpet, and killed a spider with my bare hand. I think equality has been restored on all counts.
****This is a really long list of ingredients, but I gotta tell you, I was so impressed with the result that I heard echoes of my son and the corn dogs as I was chasing people around the house with my tasting spoon. ("Seriously. You HAVE to try this sauce! It's RIDICULOUS! I'm not even kidding!)

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