Recipe: BBQ Ribs

BBQ ribs hot from the oven
BBQ ribs hot from the oven

Ingredients;

1 portion BBQ rub
BBQ sauce
500ml apple juice
Cider vinegar
2 racks pork back ribs (approx 400g each)

Serves 2-4

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Start by getting a roasting tin large enough to hold both racks of ribs and adding the apple juice and a splash of Cider Vinegar to the tin. Next take a chopping board and sprinkle some of the BBQ rub on to it.

Now place the racks into the roasting tin and make sure they are well covered in the liquid. One at a time remove the racks and place them on your chopping board, sprinkle liberally with the BBQ rub until they are coated, massage the rub into the ribs, you should feel the rub start to feel more like a smooth paste, once the entire rack feels like this, wrap it in clingfilm, put it in the fridge and move onto the second rack.

Once both racks are rubbed, wrapped in clingfilm and in the fridge, pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a sealed container and store this, then do the dishes 😉 The racks will need to sit overnight before cooking.

The next day, take the racks out of the fridge at least an hour before you are ready to start cooking, this allows them to come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 130C.

Once the racks are up to room temperature, place them curved side up (think sad face) in your roasting tray and cook them for an hour and a half.

Remove them from the oven and turn them over (think happy face) now pour half the juice and vinegar mixture into each rack, don’t worry if it spills out the ends. Now either cover the roasting tray or wrap it in tin foil folding the ends over to make a sealed parcel around the tray. You can wrap each rack individually but I find it easier to handle when I just wrap the lot. Place back in the oven for another hour and a half. if you haven’t already made the BBQ sauce this is the perfect time to do it, although I would recommend having it ready in advance.

Once the time is up remove them from the oven, get rid of the foil and drain away the liquid. It’s easiest to remove the racks carefully (they will be quite tender and likely to fall apart) rather than to try to hold the racks while pouring the liquid away, or you could use a turkey baster to remove the liquid.

Put the ribs back on the tray (if you have removed them) and pop them back into the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out a little.

Once they’re dry remove them from the oven again and brush on the BBQ Sauce, generously, on both sides. Now pop them back into the oven for thirty minutes, so the sauce/glaze has time to set.

Depending on the mood you may like to serve each rack as a portion with a small salad and some coleslaw or split them in half with a larger salad to serve 4. Whichever way you decide to serve them, be aware that they will be incredibly tender so be careful when moving them.

Now sit back and enjoy, what is to me, the greatest of all soul food dishes.

Organic food in a can?

I stumbled on this website a while back while wandering aimlessly from link to link online and I was intrigued. Could it be possible that Batter Blaster is a truly organic product in a pressurised container, curiosity got the better of me and I delved into their site a bit deeper to find out.

I clicked the “product information” link and was pleasantly surprised to find not only a clear list of ingredients but also the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) definition of organic.

Amazingly it seems true, they have created an organic product, that ships in a pressurised can, just like that awful “cream in a can” stuff we see on this side of the pond. Oh but wait a second what’s those ingredients Sodium lactate (lactic acid from beet sugar) and DiCalcium phosphate (leavening agent)?

Sodium lactate is also known as E325 and…

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sodium lactate is commonly used in meat and poultry products to extend shelf life and increase food safety as it has a broad antimicrobial action and is effective at inhibiting most spoilage and pathogenic bacteria.

Sounds like a sensible thing to add if you don’t know it’s also known as E325 but not all E numbers are bad… are they?

So I dug a bit further and found this. So E325 is part of a family of E’s known as the “acidity regulators” Still none the wiser I put my faith in the fact that it’s something that was derived from an organically grown vegetable and move onto DiCalcium phosphate the leavening agent.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A leavening agent (also leavening or leaven, pronounced /ˈlɛvənɪŋ/, /ˈlɛvən/) is any one of a number of substances used in doughs and batters that cause a foaming action which lightens and softens the finished product.

I’m thinking Yeast, baking powder, baking soda that kind of thing but a bit of searching on DiCalcium phosphate reveals…

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dicalcium phosphate is mainly used as a dietary supplement in prepared breakfast cereals, dog treats, enriched flour, and noodle products. It is also used as a tableting agent in some pharmaceutical preparations, including some products meant to eliminate body odor. It is used in poultry feed.

Now I’m not so sure about this one, so I did a bit more searching and couldn’t find any thing conclusive either way about them being good or bad, I did find a list of possible side effects but nothing about where it comes from.

So I’ve decided that while Batter Blaster meets the USDA definition of “Organic” I’m gonna stick with my own pancake recipe for now because at least I know what goes into it :)

I did try to find an EU definition of “organic” and while I initially thought it was strange that I couldn’t, I did stumble onto this site and have come to the realisation that there is a lot more to “organic” food than can be summed up in a simple sound-bite…

Recipe: BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce
BBQ Sauce

Ingredients;


1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 fresh chillies, stalks and seeds removed
Olive oil

10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
10 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
Small bunch of fresh coriander
10 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
6 cloves
Zest of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 oranges
200g soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon of Molasses
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
200ml tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons English mustard
200ml apple juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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Continuing on from the BBQ Rub last week we have the second crucial element for making great BBQ meat, the sauce! This recipe makes about 750ml of sauce so make sure you have a few glass bottles or jars available to sterilise and store it, unless you’re planning to use it all in two or three days. Why make such a large quantity? Easy, it takes just as long to make half the amount and you’ll want to have it again and again so why not make plenty to start with :)

There are a lot of ingredients so before you begin, take them all out and prep them, I find this helps me to make sure I don’t accidentally forget something.

To start, take your onion, garlic and chillies and blitz them together in a blender or food processor until you have a paste. Then take a pan add some olive oil and get it on to a low heat. Add the paste and fry it for about 5 minutes.

While that’s happening take your thyme, rosemary, coriander, bay leaves, cumin, fennel, paprika and cloves place them in your blender or food processor. Next add the orange zest, you don’t wan’t the pith (white bit) and blitz this to a purée.

Once the paste has had it’s five minutes add the purée and cook for another minute. Next add the sugar and molasses, stir them in well and continue to cook it for another few minutes until the sugar dissolves and you have a thick brown paste.

Now add 285ml of water stiring it in well and let it heat slowly for another two or three minutes. Now add all the remaining ingredients, stir it well and bring the lot to the boil. Now take a deep breath, turn the heat down a little and let it simmer for about five to ten minutes until the mixture starts to thicken a little.

Grab a large bowl and a sieve and pour the sauce through the sieve (depending on how thick it has gotten you may need to “encourage” it with the back of a spoon) into your bowl to filter out the larger bits, and throw away the bits left in the sieve. Repeat this process a couple of times until you’re left with a silky smooth looking sauce.

Leave it to cool completely. Then either, use it straight away like a glaze (just brush it over your meat of choice in the last few minutes of cooking) or pour it into your sterilised glass jars or bottles to stored for use later.

How do I sterilise glass jars or bottles?

The easiest way I’ve found is to fill the kitchen sink with boiling water from the kettle and submerge the jars/bottles and their lids in it for about ten minutes. Once you remove them add the sauce immediately and get the lids on tight.

Once they cool they can be stored in a cool dark place or the fridge. The sauce should keep for about six months.

Oh and just to keep it in perspective, this recipe should be enough to do about eight full racks of back ribs. But we’ll get into that more on Friday, so y’all come back now! :)

Kitchen Essentials – Sharp Things

What would a kitchen be without knives?

I couldn’t imagine cooking a meal without having a knife close to hand. In general I’ve found that there are two schools of thought when it comes to knives. The “Each knife has a purpose” school and “The one knife suits all” School. Both have their own merits, so I’m going to give details on both.

Knives
Knives

I subscribe to the “Each knife has a purpose” school while Elly is more of a “The one knife suits all” type of gal.

“The one knife suits all” school, I think has a lot of “this is what I’m comfortable and happy with” about it. Which is good because the one thing you should never be is uncomfortable with a knife in your hand, you’ll only end up cutting badly or cutting yourself. Elly uses her large Kitchen Devil for almost all cutting and slicing jobs and it works for her, if I’m honest she’s far quicker at slicing and chopping than me.

The “Each knife has a purpose” school that I subscribe to means I generate more washing up to be done, but that’s a small price to pay. I use a selection of Sabatier steel knives, there are six in total, ranging from a small paring knife, up to “Mr. Choppy II, The Cleaver”. OK, so maybe I have a bit of a thing for knives, but each one really does serve it’s own purpose.

The two smaller paring knives I use mostly for fruit and I find them great for really fine slicing and dicing of garlic and chilli. My vegetable knife, is appropriately used for almost all my veg chopping requirements these days, with the exception of butternut squash (which I despise preparing BTW) the only thing for those beasts is Mr. Choppy and a good swing followed by a reassuring thud, I find it helps relieve the stress of dealing with squash.

While we’re on the subject of Mr. Choppy, cleavers are the ideal tool for slicing raw meat. Provided he’s sharp Mr. Choppy will slice through almost any meat by simply dragging the blade across it, without any downward pressure.

Next up is the bread knife which does what it says and really if you bake your own bread or buy any type of bread that isn’t sliced a bread knife is the only way to slice it without squashing the bread into a doughy icky mess.

Lastly is the carving knife, this is the least used as we don’t cook whole poultry or large joints of meat too often and in the modern world is probably the least essential knife that we own. For most people carving is almost a lost art and with electric carving knives being so cheap and easy to use why would you want to learn the art of carving?

Outside of knives we also use three other sharp things in our kitchen, a mezzaluna, a peeler and a julienne peeler.

Peelers
Peelers

A mezzaluna is basically a large curved double blade with a handle on either end, that is ideal for chopping fresh herbs and with the amount of those that we use in our cooking we would be lost without it, yes I can chops herbs almost as quickly with a vegetable knife but it takes more effort and concentration, so why not take the easier option?

I’m hoping that I don’t need to explain the use of a peeler to anyone, but a julienne peeler may be a bit different, this looks almost exactly the same as a regular peeler except that the blade has teeth which slice vertically while you’re peeling, it’s great for julienne carrots but also for finely dicing them for a risotto, simply julienne first then hold the bunch and dice them quickly and easily.

The most important thing when choosing a knife or set of knives is that you feel comfortable with them, I like mine because they are exceptionally well balanced so you only lift the weight of the knife you’re not “holding up” the tip you’re simply holding the knife.

So which school do you prefer or currently use?

Recipe: BBQ Rub

BBQ Rub
BBQ Rub

Ingredients;

1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons paprika
Zest of one orange, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
A good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, peeled

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This post is the first of 3 recipes that will be coming over the next few days, the 3 together make the best BBQ Ribs I’ve tasted, yes better than anything I’ve been served in any restaurant, anywhere, so do try this. Alternatively, it can be used on almost any meat to add a massive flavour boost.

Pound your fennel seeds to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar and mix with all the other ingredients (except the Garlic) until you have a deep red powder. I find the best way to do this is to add the lot to a small Tupperware box, seal it and then shake it (like a Polaroid picture 😉 )

Next you want to add your garlic, you will need to either finely grate the garlic or use a garlic press to mince it up real good, then add this to the other ingredients and mix it again.

Finally, apply this to your meat, rubbing it in well (get your minds out of the gutter down the back) then wrap in cling film and store in your fridge overnight, before cooking.