Smoked BBQ Ribs

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

Two years ago we bought an electric smoker on Father’s Day from Academy. At the time, I really wondered how much we would actually use it but it did seem like something that would be fun to have. Now, two years later, I don’t understand how we lived without it for so long. One of our favorite things to make is smoked BBQ ribs. We uses a 3-2-1 method to cook the ribs that works really well.

The 3-2-1 method calls for smoking the ribs directly on the rack for 3 hours, then wrap the ribs tightly in foil and put back in the smoker for 2 hours, then remove the foil and coat the ribs with sauce and put them back in the smoker for a final hour of cook time. It comes out to about 6 hours of cook time. When you factor in the prep time and pulling them in and out of the smoker, it usually is a minimum of 7 hours for us from start to finish. I want to also point out the smoking temperature is relative to your smoker. We have found that most recipes call for a 225 degrees Fahrenheit smoking temperature but this isn’t enough for our specific smoker. When we cook at 225 degrees, our food isn’t ready in time so we’ve found we need to up the cooking temperature a little for most recipes. I assume there is a little bit of variability in these electric smokers so you might need to experiment a little to find out how your smoker does with different meats.

For the 2 of us, we just do one rack of ribs. However, you can do multiple racks of ribs at a time, depending on the size of your smoker.

Ingredients

  • One rack of ribs
  • 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup of dry rub (we used our Ring of Fire Rub)
  • 1/8 cup of apple juice, wine or beer
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce

Directions

Start out by coating your ribs with the yellow mustard. This helps the dry rub stick to the ribs and adds some vinegar to help tenderize them. You won’t taste the mustard when they are done cooking.

Once you’ve coated the ribs with the yellow mustard, then coat them generously with your dry rub. You can use our Ring of Fire Rub or any dry rub you have available. Here in Texas, there are dozens of varieties available at the grocery store.

With your ribs coated in yellow mustard and dry rub, wrap the ribs tightly in a double layer of aluminum foil. Put the ribs in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but preferably over night if you are planning ahead.

Here are the ribs after they were coated with the Ring of Fire Rub.

Here are the ribs after they were coated with the Ring of Fire Rub.

Prepare your smoker by heating it up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and get the wood chips smoking. Then unwrap your ribs from the aluminum foil and put them in the smoker. Save your foil because you will use it again to wrap the ribs for part 2 of the cooking. Smoke the ribs for 3 hours. Check for smoke every 30 to 45 minutes and add wood chips as necessary.

Here are the ribs when we first put them in the smoker.

Here are the ribs when we first put them in the smoker.

After 3 hours, pull the ribs from the smoker so you can wrap them back in the aluminum foil. I want to point out to close the smoker door after you take out the ribs so you keep the heat in the smoker. I will admit, I learned this the hard way because the first time we smoked them, we were so excited to get them cooked that we forgot to close the door and had to wait for the smoker to get back up to temperature.

Ribs after 3 hours in the smoker.

Here are the ribs in the smoker after 3 hours.

We bring the ribs back in the kitchen to wrap them back in the foil that we used to hold them while they sitting in the refrigerator. Before you seal the foil to wrap them, add the 1/8 cup of liquid. You can use apple juice, wine, beer, or any liquid you want. We use beer because it’s Texas and that’s what we do here.

Here are the ribs being wrapped in the aluminium foil.

Here are the ribs being wrapped in the aluminium foil.

With the ribs tightly wrapped in foil, put them back in the smoker and cook them for 2 hours. At this point you’re halfway through and you don’t have much to do for the next 2 hours. Grab the remaining beer (you know, the one you opened to put in 1/8 cup of liquid in with the ribs) and hang out near the smoker and visit with your family or friends. I find the smell of the smoker is a magnet for getting people to show up in the backyard.

At this point you have a decision to make. Do you want to continue using the smoker or move to your oven for the last hour. We usually move to the oven because it makes it easier to add extra layers of BBQ sauce to the ribs during the last hour. My instructions are for using the oven, however, you can certainly continue using the smoker. If you use the smoker, you won’t need to add multiple layers of BBQ sauce.

Before the 2 hours is up, heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can set the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re using convection bake.

At the end of 2 hours, it’s time to bring your ribs back in the kitchen. Remove the ribs from the foil wrapping and apply a thick covering of the BBQ sauce. Place the ribs on a a sheet of foil on a baking sheet and put them on center rack of your oven.

 

For this last hour, we pull the ribs out every 15 to 20 minutes and reapply a thin layer of BBQ sauce.

This is the top side of the ribs after we added the BBQ sauce.

This is the top side of the ribs after we added the BBQ sauce.

You can adjust the amount BBQ sauce you apply to your individual taste. We like them really messy with a thick coating of BBQ sauce.

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

We served these Father’s Day ribs with some steamed Patty Pan squash and German Potato Salad.

Smoked Ribs, Patty Pan squash and German Potato Salad

Smoked Ribs, Patty Pan squash and German Potato Salad

Strawberry Cobber

Strawberry-cobbler

Our finished strawberry cobbler.

I’m really not a sweets person, but I really do like eating cobblers made with fresh fruit in the summertime. A couple of our first posts were for cobblers that we made for 4th of July.  This time we tried a new version with strawberries that came out really great.

This recipe is simple because it’s mostly just 1-1-1. One stick of butter, one cup of sugar, one cup of milk, you get the idea. Easy to remember and easy to make but it comes out delicious every time. I have to say, the best part is the batter. The batter gets a

This recipe is easy to double for a larger cobbler, which is what we did last night to make sure we had enough for everyone at dinner and would have some left over for lunch today.

For other cobblers, check out our Passed Down Fredricksburg Peach Cobbler or our Red, White & Blue Cobbler.

First, melt your butter and put it in your dish.

Butter-for-strawberry-cobbler

This is the butter in the dish

Next, pour your batter over the butter. Do not mix it together.

Batter-and-butter

This is the batter poured over the butter

As you can see, the butter will come up around and through the batter but it is not mixed together.

The next thing to do is add the strawberries. A thick layer of fruit is best. Once again, don’t mix them. Just place them on top of the batter. They will naturally sink and the batter will fill in around them.

Strawberries-added-to-butter-and-batter

Here are the strawberries placed on top of the butter and batter.

Here is a look at the final product right after we pulled it from the oven.

Strawberry-cobbler

Our finished strawberry cobbler.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 pound of strawberries (cut the larger ones into bite-sized pieces)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of 1/2 the lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar to mix with the strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar to sprinkle on top of dish

Directions

Melt the butter and pout into an 8 by 12 inch baking dish.

Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder and milk. Pour over the melted butter. Do not stir or mix the batter into the butter.

Mix the strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. Place on top of the batter in the baking dish. Do not mix into the batter.

Sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Ring of Fire Seasoning Rub

You can find many variations of this rub online. We use it on everything from pork, chicken, fish, beef and vegetables. We found it originally from Alton Brown, who happens to be one of our favorite TV personalities. He always brings a smart amount information to help you understand the food and the process. This post is really just as a reference because we use it so much in a lot of recipes that I needed a place to record our variation so we can reproduce it easily.

Here is our variation of the Ring of Fire Spice Rub:

  • 1 part curry powder (see recipe below)
  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1 part adobo powder
  • 1 part ground cumin
  • 1 part smoked paprika
  • 1 part cayenne powder
  • 1 parts cocoa powder
  • 1/2 part garlic powder
  • 1/2 part onion powder
  • 1/2 part ground black pepper
  • 1/2 part salt

The good part about this rub is that you can adjust it to you specific taste. For example, most of them don’t call for the cayenne but we like the heat so we always include it. Also, we usually cut back a little on the cocoa, but that’s just our personal preference. The original recipe has 2 parts cocoa powder.

While making this again, we realized we didn’t have curry powder. Here is the substitute we now use:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne powder

Finally, for this recipe, we realized we didn’t have cardamom. So, after looking online for a substitute, we found a recipe for 1 part cinnamon and 1 part nutmeg.

 

 

Sunday Pot Roast Stew

Beef Stew in bowl

Pot Roast Beef Stew

Cold, wintry days scream for a hot stew at dinner time. This is the kind of stew that you get anxious as the bowl gets empty because you don’t want it to end. If I didn’t care about portion size or my waist size, I would have kept eating until this was all gone! This stew takes a little more time than we have to spend on week nights so it’s a great stew to make on a Sunday afternoon. Just put it all together and let it simmer until you’re ready to eat. We threw this together after looking for some recipes online. We couldn’t find a recipe that really matched what we wanted so we just picked the pieces we wanted to include in our stew. It really only takes about 1/2 hour to get the ingredients ready and cooked and then another 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a simmer.

I think of this recipe as having three steps. First you brown the meat. Then you get the vegetables cooked. Finally, you add the meat back to the vegetables and let the stew simmer for 2 hours.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of roast cut into cubes (sirloin or chuck roast)
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat
  • 3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch discs
  • 1 large (or two medium) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 12oz can of beer (we used Michelob Ultra)
  • 1 tablespoon smoke paprika

Directions

Heat the first 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil in a large dutch oven.

Start by cutting your roast into cubes and getting the meat ready to cook. Then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. coat the meat thoroughly. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and the flour will be absorbed. Now, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and mix into the meat to give it a good coating.

Put the meat into the hot bacon fat or oil and brown for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until the meat is browned on all sides. For example, while it was browning, we turned the meat every 2 minutes or so. Once browned, remove the meat into a heat-safe bowl. You could also brown this in 2 batches or use a big skillet where all the meat can be on one level. Our dutch oven didn’t allow us to have one layer so we had to mix it more than normal.

Stew beef browning in dutch oven

Stew beef browning in dutch oven.

Add the additional tablespoon of bacon fat to the dutch oven and let it melt. Once melted, add the carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables cook down for about 10 minutes.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Then, add the potatoes and garlic and gently fold into the other vegetables. Now add the thyme and rosemary and mix well.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

Then add the meat back into the dutch oven and pour in the beef broth, beer and smoked paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil in the uncovered dutch oven.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

Once you reach a boil, cover the pot and reduce for a simmer. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat and potatoes are tender.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

Our Sunday Beef Stew

This is our beef stew after it has simmered for a couple of hours. As you can see, the liquid has thickened up and become a nice, rich, brown gravy.

Happy New Years!

I love traditions, especially ones that involve food! This year, we did the same thing as last year (all most previous years) by making my favorite Black-Eyed Pea Soup. I like the soup better than just plain peas, plus, we add a lot of meat to it. This year we added 1 lb of beer braut German sausage and about 6 slices of bacon. We also used a handful of peppers from our last batch of peppers we picked on our plants before we cut them down. They were all very small and a mix of jalapeno, poblano and serrano peppers.

New Year Day black-eyed pea soup

New Years Day black-eyed pea soup

We also tried something new today – baking cookies from scratch. Curt found some whole-wheat pastry flour at the store and was going crazy waiting to find something to do with it. Well, he ended up making Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. They turned out really good, especially for a first attempt.

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the newness category, we also made homemade biscuits from scratch. I know, this isn’t anything special, but it was both of ours first attempt at biscuits from scratch. I’ve only made them from the pre-made rolls that you buy in the store. It was easier than we thought so we made two batches. The first is a buttermilk biscuit and the second was the standard regular biscuit recipe on the flour package.

Homemade biscuits, buttermilk on the left, regular milk on the right.

Homemade biscuits, buttermilk on the left, regular milk on the right.

I hope you have a great new year and aren’t afraid to try new things but still hold true to the traditions that make you who you are.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

This recipe is a variation of the Tomatillo Green Sauce that I posted a few years ago. In this one, you don’t need a grill and you still get a great sauce. For our broth, we used a home-made broth that we made with the bones from a smoked turkey. I love the smokey flavor that comes from a broth like this. You can use whatever broth you want. The peppers we used are all from the last harvest from our plants that we picked just before our first freeze. A lot of the peppers were pretty small so we wanted to use them up before they go bad.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Our Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and cut in half
  • 3 to 5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 small (or 1 large) green bell peppers
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves only
  • 1 cup of chicken or turkey broth
  • Zest and juice of 2 lime

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the seeds from the poblano peppers and bell peppers. Also, since the seeds and inner membrane contain the heat, remove the seeds from some of the jalapeno peppers. We leave the seeds in 2 of the jalapeno peppers to keep some heat in the final sauce.

I will note that we cooked our peppers first and this made removing the seeds harder. The peppers get slimy and the seeds stick to the cooked peppers so make it easier on yourself and remove the seeds before cooking.

Roasted jalapeno, poblano and bell peppers

Roasted jalapeno, poblano and bell peppers. As you can see, we are in the process of removing the seeds from the roasted peppers. It would have been much easier to remove them before we roasted them.

Once you’ve taken the seeds out of the peppers, put the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, poblano peppers and onion into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. We put about a teaspoon of both salt and pepper.

Prepare your baking sheet by putting a layer of foil on it and giving the foil a light coating of olive oil. With all the vegetables coated with the olive oil, salt and pepper, spread them onto your baking sheet in an even layer. Take care to make sure the cut halves of the tomatillos are facing up. This will keep all (or most) of the juices from the tomatillos from spilling out.

Tomatillos, jalapenos, poblanos, bell peppers, onions and garlic before being roasted.

This is our baking sheet with all the vegetables spread out before we put them in the oven to roast. Notice that the cut sides of the tomatillos are facing up. This keeps the juices from spilling out and making a mess.

Place the baking sheet in the center of your oven and roast until the vegetables are soft. This will probably take at least 20 minutes but might be longer. Ours took about 30 minutes until the tomatillos were soft.

Once roasted, put the vegetables into a large pot or dutch oven. Add the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and broth. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Tomatillos, onions, garlic and cilantro in our dutch oven.

Here are the tomatillos, onions, garlic and cilantro in our dutch oven. At the time, we were getting the seeds out of the peppers.

Now, use your immersion blender to turn this into a sauce. You can use a food processor or blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.

The immersion blender while making the tomatillo sauce.

Here is sauce while we were using the immersion blender. I hope you can tell it’s pretty liquefied with just a little amount of chunks.

Once it is cooled, you’ll have a great sauce for chips or using as a base in Mexican dish. We’ll be mixing ours with grilled pork for a pork stew.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Our Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

You can use it immediately, store it in the refrigerator for a few days or put it into a freezer bag and freeze it for a later day.

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

This twist on a classic pie comes from our realtor’s monthly magazine, American Lifestyle. We decided to add the bourbon to kick it up a notch. It’s the holiday season, so why not take it over the top! The bacon is really the cool element and it really adds an interesting flavor to this pie. In our recipe, we used a light maple syrup instead of the dark. I think the dark will be better but it did taste great. We also over chopped the walnuts and it probably would be better to have the larger pieces of a courser chop for some texture in the pie.

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 4 ounces of thin-cut bacon slices
  • 5 tablespoons of solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of very cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

For the filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup of dark maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 cups of coarse chopped walnuts

Instructions

Preheat your over to 350 degrees.

First, make the crust. It’s a simple process similar to the patte brise, except you add BACON! Start by frying the bacon in a skillet on medium heat until they crisp. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Once crisp, transfer the cooked bacon slices to a paper towel. Now, save the bacon fat from the pan. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and then put the rest of the leftover bacon fat into a heat-safe measuring cup. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then add in enough shortening so the total volume is 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons).

Now that the bacon fat and shortening are ready, pour your flour into a bowl and add the fat from your measuring cup.  Cut this in with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse cornmeal.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cold water and the vinegar together and then add to the flour mixture until a soft, non-sticky dough forms. Form the dough into a ball, dust it with flour and roll into an 11 inch circle. Place a pie plate in the center and trim the edges.

Now that the pie dough is ready, start on your filling. Beat the eggs together with maple syrup, sugars and vanilla extract into a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed. Mix in the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat and the bourbon.

Crumble the bacon into small pieces in the bowl. Stir in the walnuts and then pour the filling into the pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, until puffy and brown. There should only be a slight jiggle in the center. Let cool before slicing.