With Memorial Day just around the corner I thought I would post 3 recipes, 3 barbecuing techniques and 3 BBQ safety tips since most of us will be firing up our grills, smokers and barbeque cookers for the holiday. This way you can cook three great kick-ass barbecued dishes, learn 3 new barbecuing techniques and lastly, learn tips on how to keep barbecuing safe for you and your family. Also included in this article are a few bonus tips for cooking Brats, marinades and cutting veggies. As if this whole article wasn’t enough of a bonus.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Recipe #1: the appetizer.
Sweet Southern Baby back Tid-bits
Here is something you can start preparing a day or two before your party or event and is pretty much my own recipe, although there are variations of it that others have made before.
- 3 full racks of baby back ribs (Costco or Sams Club are probably your best bet for the ribs)
- 1 large bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (or you can make your own)
- Your favorite rib rub (psst… here’s one of ours)
- 1/4 c. light brown sugar
- 1/4 c. water
This recipe is very easy to make, although it will take some time to smoke and cook the ribs. The lengthy discussion down below is due to explaining this recipe to folks with a smoker, charcoal grill and just an oven.
Start by rinsing your ribs in fresh water, pat dry with paper towels. Rub your ribs with rib rub, let sit at room temperature. Fire up your smoker and get the temperature to around 200-250 degrees F. If you do not have a smoker, you can use a charcoal grill with briquettes and water soaked wood chips on one side and have your meat above the side where there is no fire underneath. And if you don’t have a charcoal grill, what the hell are you doing on this website? Just kidding… Don’t fear, you can still do this recipe. Just don’t worry about rubbing the ribs, get a large pan (large enough to fit the ribs in on their side vertically).
Smokers and charcoal grill folks, take your your ribs off after around 2-3 hours (you can go longer if you want a more smoky flavor). Then let them cool a bit, get your pan ready, fill it 1/4th of the way full, brush on the barbecue sauce liberally and stack the ribs in the pan. If you don’t have a pan long enough for the ribs to lay on their side, you can cut the ribs in half, sauce them and make sure you have the water on the bottom of the pan so it steams the ribs. Cover with aluminum foil tightly (don’t leave gaps so steam escapes).
Bake at 400 degrees for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours then check for tenderness. You want the ribs tender, but not too tender to fall off the bone completely. Folks who steam the ribs right from the beginning probably need to continue cooking for around 4 hours or so, but you can check around 3 hours just to see were your ribs are at time wise.
While your ribs are cooking, take the remainder of the large bottle of BBQ sauce and pour into a bowl along with the brown sugar (you can add or not use as much sugar to taste). Add the water which helps the sugar dissolve a little better. Mix well with a whisk.
After your ribs are tender (but not totally falling off the bone), pour off excess water, take the foil off completely and let the ribs cool. After they have cooled, cut the ribs in 1-2 rib sections (hence tid-bit in the name of the recipe).
Crank up the grill outside again (either gas or charcoal), put the ribs on the grill at about medium heat and baste with sweet barbecue sauce. Plate and serve. Serves about 15-20 people as an appetizer.
For those with no grill, you can go ahead and broil the ribs in the oven basting them along the way with the sweet barbecue sauce. Just be careful not to burn the ribs as with broiling you really need to keep an eye on them!
Recipe #2: main course.
BBQ Chicken with Vinegar Sauce
This light and spicy sauce is a nice change from the usual tomato-based barbecue sauces. For convenience, you can mix the spices ahead, then add the vinegar just before using. Since we really are getting a lot of sauce and sweet from my Sweet Southern Baby back Tid-bits, I thought a great compliment to that dish would be one with a bit of tanginess, yet savory from the spices being used.
1 1/4 cups Cider Vinegar
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or pre-heat broiler.
Whisk first 9 ingredients in small bowl to blend.
Arrange chicken in shallow glass dish.
Spoon 1/4 cup sauce over; turn to coat evenly.
Let stand at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes, turning chicken occasionally.
Grill chicken until just cooked through,
basting occasionally with another 1/4 cup sauce, about 5 minutes per side.
Serve with remaining sauce. Enjoy!
Recipe #3: dessert.
Pound Cake with Grilled Pears and Caramel-Rum Sauce BBQ Recipe
This dessert sounds soooo good that I had to include it. Don’t worry, you won’t be baking pound cake with your grill. The sumptuous flavor of grilled pears is made all the more irresistible with this to-die-for caramel rum sauce.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark rum
4 fresh pears, cored and quartered
4 slices pound cake, cut 2 inches thick
Whipped cream (optional)
Fresh mint (optional)
Place the sugar in a non-reactive pan and caramelize over medium heat. When it liquefies and is dark brown
in color, add the cream and reduce heat. Add the butter and rum. Stir until butter is melted; set mixture aside.
Dust pears with powdered sugar and place in center of cooking grate. Grill pears 10 to 15 minutes, until tender, turning once halfway through grilling time.
Sprinkle each slice of pound cake with powdered sugar; tap off any excess. Place cake slices in center of cooking grate. Grill 2 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time. Transfer to warming rack and continue grilling for about 2 minutes to warm through.
Cut cake slices in half on an angle. To serve, cross each half piece with the other half on a serving plate. Arrange pears around cake and drizzle with caramel sauce. Garnish with whipped cream and mint, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe / Image Credit: barbecue-online.co.uk
Technique #1: Keep your meat moist
It’s always good to have a few different techniques in your back pocket while barbecuing. Barbecuing is considered a dry method of cooking. So what does that mean for the meat you put in your smoker? Correct. It gets dry. We can control the moisture in the meat two ways; 1.) Keeping the meat moist by “mopping” it with a vinegar based mop sauce which is usually put on towards the end of the cooking process. Mop sauces are typically not as thick as BBQ sauce. 2.) Putting a vessel inside your smoker or barbecue filled with water, cider, beer or anything else you would like the meat to absorb as flavor and moisture. I wouldn’t say this adds that much flavor to the meat, but it does keep your meat more moist.
Technique #2: May the brats be with you
Just about every Memorial Day weekend I cook brats. It’s almost become a tradition for me and for millions of other folks in the US. Over the years I have come up with a couple of techniques that will help just about any backyard barbecuer.
First, do not blast your gas grill too high to cook your brats because you’ll end up either burning or exploding your brats. By exploding, I don’t mean they will end up on the inside of your grill cover, I mean they will seep out their natural juices and you’ll end up with a not-so-juicy brat. Consider a medium flame (position brats near a warm spot on a charcoal grill) and let them cook evenly. Make sure to use your tongs so you don’t poke your brats.
Bonus: Something else I enjoy doing that I think your guests will appreciate. Try grilling thick pieces of onion and pepper (have a pan ready on the grill filled with a little beer). I usually put the pan with beer on the top rack or on a grate that is on low heat. Once the onion and peppers are grilled to perfection, place them in the pan with beer. When the brats are done, place them on top and there’s your serving dish of brats on the bed of onion and peppers. Tip for cutting your veggies: Slice your onion like you were making thick onion rings. For the peppers, slice them in thick julienne cuts. This way they won’t fall through your grill grates.
Technique #3: To marinate or not to marinate?
I could do a huge segment on marinating, but I won’t in this particular article since I am simply pointing out another technique for you. A good rule of thumb is that if the cut of meat you are using is tough, it’s a good idea to marinate (or cook for a long time at a low temperature). What type of cuts does that include? For beef: Round tip steak, bottom round roast, top round roast, chuck tender steak, chuck roll steak, eye of round roast, rump roast, bottom round steak, eye of round steak, top round steak are all considered “tough cuts.”
Another reason for marinating is simply to add flavor. Marinades usually include two basic things; an acid and a fat — there are so many other variables you can add to that. So, you may want to throw your chicken breasts in a light Italian marinade. Or you may even consider marinating pork in an Asian type marinade. It’s up to your taste buds and the sky is the limit as far as combinations of your marinade. I’m sure you have even seen already made marinades in the supermarket. Remember to discard your marinate especially if used for chicken or pork. I have heard you can boil your marinate if you want to use it as a sauce, but I generally toss my marinate after the meat is taken out. Bonus: If you haven’t tried marinating chicken breasts in Kraft’s Zesty Italian dressing, pick yourself up a bottle and marinate your chicken overnight, grill and enjoy!
Three Barbecue Safety Tips
Here’s another topic I could really take a whole article or a series of articles to write about, but in this case, I will touch upon three sections of tips: Propane Tank Safety, Charcoal Grill Safety and After Barbecuing Tips.
BBQ Safety Tip #1: Propane Tank Safety
Inspect the cylinder of your propane tank for bulges, dents, gouges, corrosion, leaks, or evidence of extreme rusting. Also, examine the hoses on your grill for brittleness, leaks, holes, cracks, or sharp bends. If you find any of these problems, it’s time to replace the equipment.
Grill at least 10 feet away from your building structure on a hard flat surface such as concrete or a paved driveway.
Be sure to keep propane tanks upright, and move gas hoses away from dripping grease and hot surfaces.
Never use cigarettes, lighters, or matches near your gas grill, whether it’s in use or not. You can’t be sure that there’s not a slight gas leak somewhere in the unit, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Propane tanks require sophisticated valve equipment to keep them safe for use with grills. Never try to remove the valve from your propane tank, because you’ll risk an explosion. In addition, always close the tank valve when you’re finished using it.
Never bring your propane tank indoors, and never store spare gas containers under or near your grill. Don’t store other flammable liquids, such as gasoline, near propane tanks. Keep your barbeque covered when it’s not in use to prevent hazardous situations.
If you must transport your propane tank for any purpose, be sure you choose a relatively cool day. Keeping containers or any other grill parts that are under pressure in a hot car will cause an increase in the pressure of the gas, which could cause an explosion.
Never dispose of your propane tank by throwing it in the trash. Check to see if there are municipal programs for collection in your area. If your grill uses a disposable tank, take care to use up all the residual gas before discarding it.
BBQ Safety Tip #2: Charcoal Grill Safety
Even though you don’t have to be concerned about propane gas leaks with charcoal grills, you do need take precautions against another kind of gas; carbon monoxide. Because charcoal produces carbon monoxide, which is highly toxic, you should never burn your charcoal grill inside your home, a tent, a vehicle, or any other enclosed area.
1. Operate charcoal grills outdoors only, never inside an enclosed area. Even if you’ve finished grilling, and you assume all the coals are extinguished, they’re still producing carbon monoxide, so keep your charcoal grills outside at all times. Grill at least 10 feet away from your building structure on a hard flat surface such as concrete or a paved driveway.
2. Don’t wear loose clothing, especially long sleeves, while grilling.
3. Charcoal grills tend to flare up, so keep a fire extinguisher handy.
4. Use charcoal lighter fluid to light new coals only; don’t use it on coals that are already lit. For goodness sakes, don’t dump gasoline on your barbecue!
BBQ Safety Tip #3: After Barbecuing…
1. Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and storing instructions that accompany the grill.
2. Keep your grill clean and free of grease buildup that may lead to a fire.
3. Never store liquid or pressurized fuels inside your home and/or near any possible sources of flame.
I hope you all have a fun, tasty and safe Memorial Day weekend! And let us not forget what Memorial Day really means… Please remember our fellow Americans who have died for our country and pray for the fine folks who are serving in our military currently.