I do not know why people get so excited about barbecue in summer. What is so special about summer? I live in New Jersey, where summer really lasts 3-4 months. My point is, If you love barbecue you should be able to do it all year around. That is exactly what I do. My grill is located on my deck about nine feet away from my patio door. My motto is if I can physically get to the grill (no snow in the path), there will be barbecue. I have been barbecuing on my Great Outdoors grill since 2002. I am really beginning to understand it only in past two years. You see, barbecue is not hard but a good barbecue is not that simple either. I am not a professional chef or a graduate from BBQ University. Yes, there is such a place. However, I have logged a lot of BBQ time behind the grill by experimenting various parameters. My kids are my best critics because they are honest. When I suck they give it to me straight. So, I am ready to share my pork ribs' recipe. Folks, who do not eat pork can still read my blog and get some tips. This is the simplest BBQ recipe, yet the end result is the tastiest.
- Meat: I prefer Costco to buy the meat. For $20 ($2.29 per lb) you can get pork ribs which will feed a hungry Afghan family for a month, and mine for two days. On a side note, since we Americans do not produce anything, food should be our biggest export to the rest of the world. Take this China! Can you produce beef for 99 cents a pound? I don't think so. I think we got the cheap food figured out. It is up to the Wall Streeters and Tim Geithner to realize this. I like to wash the meat before marination. A lot of folks have told me that the stores wash it before packaging, but there is no harm is doing it again. Make sure you rinse as much water from it as possible. We do not want the water in the meat to dilute the marinade. As you can see the picture that the ribs were too big so, I cut them into half. At the end of this blog I will discuss the tools you should have.
- Marinade: As I mentioned before, the marinade recipe I used is the simplest.For my nine pounds of spare ribs I used the following ingredients: 2a. Two and a half tea spoon full of salt 2b. Two tea spoon full of black pepper 2c. Two tea spoon full of honey 2d. A little over of half a cup of lime juice There is nothing right or wrong here. Everything is to taste. So, don't be afraid to experiment. I like to keep the salt to be a little on high side so that it can get in the meat to give it the right level of salty taste. Put all the ingredients in a small bowl. Put the bowl in microwave oven for 45 seconds. This causes honey to melt and easily dissolve in the solution. Stir it with a small spoon so that all the ingredients get mixed properly in the marinade. Put the meat in a large plate and put marinade generously on the meat. Use your palms to run it thoroughly so that all areas are covered. I like to marinade a night before I plan to barbecue. You should give at least 4-6 hours for the marinade to work. If you plan to marinade over night, make sure you cover it properly and put it in the refrigerator. Take it out a few hours before grilling. Lessons learned: Lemon juice tenderizes the meat but don't let the meat to taste like lemon. Keep the salt higher than you would usually for proper penetration. Add spices higher than usual for proper penetration. Give at least 4-6 hours minimum as proper marination time.
- Grilling: This is the part where experience comes into play. You see, I have read and watched so many articles and shows. Most of them state that the meat should be grilled on high heat. I agree with this statement, in principle. However the reality is a little different. Since I barbecue in all seasons it is impossible to barbecue with open lid, so that you can turn the meat over as soon as it starts burning. As a matter of fact I have realized that there is no point in open lid barbecue. You should always cover the lid. That leaves the option of keeping the grill at high setting, especially if you are grilling ribs. There is something called grease fire. It will happen no matter how careful you are. Meat like pork is filled with fat. When the meat gets hot the fat melts and creates instant fire. To me this is the biggest challenge. I have not seen this addressed in the shows I watched or in the form of some anti-grease fire technology. I have addressed this problem as following: 3a. Never let meat to be grilled in direct flame. I bought a small metal sheet from Home Depot. I put the sheet in between the flame and the meat. An aluminium foil will do, however, you will need to change it every time you are barbecuing. 3b. Start the grilling process at relatively high temperature. 3c. When the meat reaches at a point that it is creating too much grease, put the meat on a non-stick Aluminium foil like Reynolds Release and continue. Okay, so let us get started with the grilling process. Turn the grill on high. Make sure it is clean. A lot of people give reasons like, "Oh, I never the clean the grill because it adds to the flavor". Yeah, I agree, but it adds to grease fire. So, try to clean it as much as possible. I give at least twenty minutes before I am ready put the meat on it. Whether you clean your grill or not, PLEASE clean the grates. Lubricate the grates with vegetable or olive oil. This step is important so that the meat does not stick to the grates. Put the meat on the grates and lower the temperature to a little below the medium. Every grill is different so experiment with the settings. The point is, I do not want to grill at very high temperature. Bring it down. Cover the lid after putting the meat. Next half hour to forty five minutes are very important. Turn the meat every five or so minutes. In about half hour the meat is hot enough to start melting the grease. Keep watching the smoke coming from the grill. Too much smoke is an indication of the grease melting. I usually let it go like this for another ten minutes or so by lowering the temperature of the grill, however, at this time feel free to bring in non-stick Aluminium foil like Reynold's release. Put the meat on the foil now and continue turning it every five minutes. For me, for nine pounds of meat the cooking time was about an hour and ten minutes. Again, taste the meat and adjust the time to taste and tenderness. Lessons learned: 1. Too much time at the grill with lower temperature will result into dry meat. 2. Lesser time at the grill with very high heat will result into burnt or uncooked meat (May be okay for steaks but not good for pork). 3. Yes, we should try to cook at as high temperature as possible.
- Tools of the trade: Though I have every possible tool available in the BBQ world, I used only the following tools for this barbecue: a. A nice butcher's knife to cut the raw meat b. Tong to turn the meat over on the grill c. A nice carving knife d. A big fork
- Some thoughts to enjoy your barbecue: I like to drink beer when I barbecue. However, at the time of eating, I like to have some wine and bread with it. I am not at all a wine connoisseur. However, I know this for sure. Unless you have Madoff kind of money, there is no need to spend more than $10 for a 750 ml bottle of wine. In my experience, try Chilean or Argentinian wines. They are cheap and they taste damn good too. The one shown in the picture was less than $8. I have never tasted it before. As I write this blog, I have finished half the bottle. So, it must be pretty good.Lessons learned for wine:1. If the wine is over $10 a bottle, don't buy it unless you are rich.2. Go with what you like not with what critics like. Remember, they are rich. I want to leave you with this thought.
Every man wants a legacy. I want to be known for my pork ribs, ummmmmmm!