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

Advertisements

Texas Chili

It’s Superbowl Weekend and what better to go with the big game than a big bowl of homemade chili. I think everyone in Texas has a favorite chili recipe but no one seems to agree whether there should be beans or not. Well, I’ve had great chili both ways so I am not partial to one way or the other. I know some people say real Texas chili has no beans, but, I don’t agree. I’ve always had chili in Texas and I find it both ways, so that tells me there’s no “one way” to make your chili. The best thing is to find a simple recipe that you can go back to time and again. Also, your go-to recipe shouldn’t include a prepackaged pouch of spices, that’s just not right. This is just such a recipe and it does not have beans.

This recipe is very flexible and you can customize it to meet you heat tolerance and available spices. It’s loosely based on the chili recipe provided by Congressman J. J. Pickle from the 1oth District, TX. That would be the Austin area at the time he was in Congress. This also is the district that LBJ represented from 1937 until 1949.

This will serve 6 to 8. You can refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

20160207_Texas_Chili.jpg

Texas chili simmering

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chuck roast, chili ground or small cubed
  • 3 tbls corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Hot water
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (or 1 8oz can of tomato sauce)
  • 3 tbsp masa harina (or flour)

Directions

Put the corn oil into a large, cast-iron pot. Add the meat, onions and garlic and sear over high heat, stirring constantly, until the meat turns light grey. Add the hot water to just cover the meat, onions and garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT or the masa harina. If needed, you can add a little more water if the mixture is too thick. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours. On a low temp, this can go for hours. Skim of the grease. If the chili is too thin, sprinkle with the masa harina and stir, then simmer for 15 additional minutes to thicken.

To serve this, put into a bowl and add your favorite condiments. I like to sprinkle it with cheddar cheese and some finely chopped onions. You can also add a spoonful of sour cream. This chili goes really well with some homemade cornbread or the Texas favorite Saltine crackers.

Mexican Martini

 

What drink do you order when you want something other than a margarita and not in the mood for beer? Well, a Mexican Martini, of course. I like ordering these when we go out for Mexican food but I had never made one and really not thought much about them, other than a tequila based alternative to the traditional margarita. A few weeks ago we decided we wanted something different at the house so I looked up a recipe on-line. I wasn’t surprised to find a bunch of variations, but I was surprised to find out this is an Austin invention and there is a competing claim as to who can claim to be the inventor.

Trudy’s has been known for making good (and STRONG) Mexican Martinis for years. They were already famous for them 20 years ago when I came to Austin for college. Their rival is Cedar Door. The Tipsy-Texas wrote up a good background on this. If you’re interested in this uniquely Austin drink, take a look at this story.

The recipe we settled on is supposed to be Trudy’s Mexican Martini. It did taste great, exactly like a Mexican Martini should.

Mexican Martini

Mexican Martini and ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 oz of tequila
  • 1 oz orange liqueur
  • 1 to 2 oz of lemon-lime soda
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

These martinis should be served in the tumbler in a martini glass. Rim the glass with salt and add a couple olives to top it off.

Feel free to vary these ingredients to find the mix you like. I actually added the juice of a whole lime because I like the tartness. And, I know a few people who think you need a little (or a lot) more tequila to get the ratio correct. The recipe above tastes great and won’t knock you off your feet if you feel like having a few.

We substituted San Pellegrino Aranciata for orange juice and used Agravero as our orange liqueur.

Doña Sauce – a simple jalapeño hot sauce

This hot sauce shows up in various forms at Mexican food restaurants all over Austin. There are as many names for this sauce as there are variations but I like Doña. The Doña sauce is the green sauce from Tacodeli, a really popular restaurant here in Austin. The Austin American Statesman posted this recipe a few weeks ago and we’ve made it three or four times since then.

For those of you unfamiliar with this sauce, it is a very creamy rich sauce. It’s obviously hot, but I don’t think it’s fire-in-your-mouth hot. If the heat bothers you, try taking out the seeds and veins from the peppers to reduce the heat or you can mix in other peppers to balance out the heat. Other peppers you could try are Hatch, poblano, and bell peppers to temper down the heat. In fact, we’ve made a great sauce just using Hatch peppers that worked really well on enchiladas.

This recipe will make about 1 liter of Doña Sauce.

For a smoked version, try our Smoked Doña Sauce.

Ingredients

  • 12 jalapeño peppers (or serrano)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled & minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • a pinch or two of salt

Directions

Begin by taking the stems and seeds out of the peppers. Then boil the peppers in a medium pot of water. Simmer them for about 12 minutes. The peppers should be soft and start to darken. Reserve some of the water and then strain the peppers in a colander.

Using a blender, process the cooked peppers, garlic and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cooking water and salt. Once these ingredients are mixed well and come together, turn on the blender and slowly add the olive oil. The sauce should start to thicken and become creamy.

Now you can use the sauce for a dip, add it to rice to give it a kick, use it as a marinade or what ever else you might do with a hot sauce. Some of the alterations that we’ve tried and work really well are using other types of peppers and grilling the peppers instead of boiling them. During Hatch Chili Season (yes, that’s a thing here in Austin) we made this sauce using grilled hatch peppers – it was so good and creamy with just a little heat.

Here is a link to another variation that is really good: http://whatscookinerndog.blogspot.com/2011/08/green-gold-erins-wannabe-taco-delis.html
The point being, you really can’t go wrong with this sauce so give it a try!

Grilled Texan Corn Salad

Corn Salad Plate

It’s been a while since I added a post to our blog. To be honest, I’ve started a few posts but ran out of time or didn’t have good pictures to include. I’ll get them posted next time we try the dishes. This post came from an inspiration reading about seasonal eating in Abruzzo, Italy. I had just read the post and went out to uncover our grill. I was planning on grilling sausage and corn-on-the-cob. The post I just read made me think we needed to do something more than plain corn on the cob and then I looked down and saw big, ripe, jalapeno peppers on our plants. The pepper is what got me thinking about seasonal foods here and how to mix them together.

Seasonal cooking here in Texas is a little complicated. Our supermarket’s produce section barely changes throughout the year. We have a very constant selection of just about any produce you could want year round. I think this is partially due to our temperate climate and close proximity to Mexico, which sends us a constant supply of fruits and veggies. Our farmer’s market is the place to go to find fresh seasonal, locally grown produce. The only downside to this is that you pay a hefty premium to get the local produce. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to support the local farmers but I just can’t justify paying twice the price you can find at the local store.

Anyhow, back to my seasonal post, this one contains the flavors of summer in Texas. Fresh corn, jalapenos, tomatoes and cilantro. Living in a condo, we can’t grow our own corn but we do grow tomatoes and peppers. It’s still a little early for tomatoes so the peppers are the only items fresh from our container garden.

Jalapeno Pepper

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 4 or 5 fresh jalapenos
  • 1 red onion (cut in half)
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

For the salad dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juiceFresh Corn

To start, make a rub for your corn by mixing the olive oil, chili powder, smoked paprika and coarse kosher salt together in a small bowl. This combination can be adjusted to fit your taste. Pull the husks off your corn and then coat each one with the rub mixture.

Corn with dressing

Then put the corn on a hot grill. You’re going to cook the corn for 4 to 5 minutes, then turn 1/4 turn. Repeat this 3 times until you’ve completely rotated the corn. This will take 16 to 20 minutes. The kernels will blacken in some places, but that’s OK! It adds lots of flavors to the dish. Every grill is different so you might have to adjust the heat or placement of the corn. Just watch out for flare-ups because you don’t want to get too much char on the corn. Also, this is a great way to cook corn on the cob, so if you don’t want to make the salad, you can stop here and just enjoy the great corn.

After you make your first turn of the corn, add the whole jalapenos and the 2 halves of your onion.

Corn, peppers & onions

The goal for the jalapenos is to blacken the skins but not to completely cook the pepper. Turn them every 3 or 4 minutes until the skin starts turning black. There should still be some firmness to the pepper. For the onion, just cook it for about 5 minutes per side. Like the jalapenos, we’re just trying to give it a little char and grill marks but we still want it to be firm and have texture.

Once each item is done, pull it off the grill. Let them all cool down and rest for a few minutes. It needs to be cool enough to handle so give it at least about 15 minutes to rest and cool.

Grilled veggies

The first thing you want to do is get the peppers ready. We use disposable rubber gloves to pull the blackened skin off the peppers and to pull the seeds veins out of the peppers. I know some people say to do this under water but that just washes the best flavors off the peppers. If you use your bare hands, please make sure to wash them thoroughly before you do anything else, especially before you touch your face! (Yes, I’ve done this and it’s not fun)

Take a knife and cut off the kernels from the corn and put them in a large bowl. Then coarsely chop the peppers, onion and tomatoes into cubes about the size of the corn kernels and add them to the bowl. Now, chop your cilantro and add this to the salad. Corn Salad mixture

You’ll want to add a little dressing to this salad, but just enough to coat without it getting soggy. For this, mix a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lime juice and then drizzle it over the salad and mix it all together. You’re also going to want to add salt and pepper to taste. We usually wait to add salt and pepper at the table but you can add it at this point, too.

This recipe can be altered many different ways. You can substitute sweet bell peppers for some of the jalapenos to cut down the heat and you could substitute basil or parsley for the cilantro. This is an easy recipe that is sure to please your family and friends.

You’ll also notice that we grilled more corn and peppers than this recipe calls for. I think if you’re going to heat up the grill, get the most out of it. The corn and peppers will store well in the refrigerator until later in the week.

Red, White & Blue Cobbler

I just posted the peach cobbler recipe that is very popular in Central Texas over the summer. This is the recipe for the Strawberry-Blueberry Cobbler, which turns out red, white & blue. The main difference from peach cobbler is that there is no brown sugar or pecans on top.

Curt and Janet inspecting the cobbler just as it came out of the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour (the flour & baking powder can be exchanged for Bisquick)
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of sliced strawberries

Instructions

Melt butter until brown. Pour in an 8-by-12 inch baking dish. Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and milk. Pour into melted butter. Do not stir. Cover top of batter with your fruit. Do not mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Passed Down Fredricksburg Cobbler

This recipe is a starting point for making cobblers. You can put just about any fruit in it so go experiment! A version of this recipe was in the Austin American-Statesman back in 2003 that we clipped and used. Over the years this clipping was lost. Now you can find it and similar variations online from many sources. Just remember, cobblers should be easy and fun to make. Any recipe that appears complicated is probably not worth it. We like to make cobblers throughout the year, but especially during the summer when the peaches are ripe. There’s nothing like a great peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream. We also make this recipe with many other fruits. One of my favorites is the Red, White & Blue Cobbler. This cobbler has strawberries and blueberries and once it bakes, the cobbler makes looks very patriotic.
Also, Curt will sometimes substitute Bisquick for the flour and baking powder.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour (the flour & baking powder can be exchanged for Bisquick)
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • at least 3 cups of peaches
  • 1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar for topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Instructions

Melt butter until brown. Pour in an 8-by-12 inch baking dish. Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and milk. Pour into melted butter. Do not stir. Cover top of batter with peaches. Do not mix. Cover top of peaches with brown sugar and chopped pecans (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.