Yesterday evening we finally had a break in the never ending rain (I swear I thought we moved to Tennessee, not Oregon), and we dragged the smoker out of the garage to get some cooking done while we can. It’s going to rain the rest of the week.
Anyhow, I smoked a small ham for sandwich meat, 3 chicken breasts for a dish I’ll be making in the next day or two, a turkey breast for sandwich meat, and a nice piece of corned beef brisket for dinner tonight. 😀
A few hours later…
I had to sneak a little piece of the corned beef also after my mom said it would be tough and I should have boiled it.
Being salt cured, it’s a little on the salty side, and while it was a little bit firmer than my usual brisket:
It was still plenty tender, because my family is from Texas, damnit, and tough brisket of any variety is a crime there!
Seriously, ask any Texan and they’ll tell you that you can talk bad about somebody’s mama before you can trash talk their brisket. 😀
Yes, a 2 for 1 here. After trying the Korean Bulgogi recipe that’s been in my family for a good 40 years on chicken, I threatened to try it on pork as well. When I did spare ribs yesterday, I did just that. One one rack of ribs anyway. The other was old school Texas.
All that was missing was a little green onion added to the Asian ribs as garnish, and some sauce for the regular ribs, but that came later. 😉
The flavor was heavenly on both. I’ve seen a ton of complicated recipes to get ribs to turn out flavorful on a pellet smoker. Nothing beats plain old LOW and slow at 185 for 6 hours however. The only extra is a light basting with apple juice every 45 minutes or so to keep them moist. Results? Judge for yourself:
Magnificent smoke ring on both of them, and deep flavor. The Bulgogi ribs tasted like the best Chinese (well, Korean) restaurant food you’ve ever had. 🙂
OK, this is something I thought I’d never do. This sauce has been in the family for four generations now. I’d thought about keeping it secret too in case I ever opened a BBQ resaurant. With my hearing loss and back / neck problems though, that seems unlikely. I also got a Keto focused blog as a follower and realized this could help people on a quest to cut sugar and similar empty carbs out of their diet.
You see, this is an OLD school Texas sauce. That means there’s no sugar or molasses in it. I *hate* commerical sauces because that’s all they are. This sauce is savory, smokey and with just a LITTLE heat to it. Anyway, if Aaron Franklin can publish his sauce recipes, I suppose I can too. Franklin’s sauces have a good bit more heat too BTW.
So here we go. Licensed for private use only, LOL.
13 ounce bottle of catsup
5 ounce bottle of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
Juice of Two Lemons
1 Tablesppon of Yellow Mustard
6 Heavy Dashes of Tabasco Sauce
2 Medium Yellow or White Onions, Diced
3 Cloves of Garlic, Diced Fine
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Catsup Bottles full of Water
My great grandmother used to add a half pound of butter to the sauce to keep it from “breaking” and keep it smooth. My mom and I both agree that just makes the sauce too greasy though. Try it if yout want but I’d advise against it. Simmer the sauce for a half hour to an hour to allow the flavors to fully meld and blend together. Cooking it slow does matter.
The recipe above makes about a quart. Plenty to add to a dinner of ribs, chicken or brisket after it comes off the grill. It doubles fine if you really like your BBQ sauce. Keeps fairly well in the fridge or freezer also.
If you want to truly make absolutely sure there’s no sugar, replace the catsup with tomato sauce or better yet, cook and puree your own tomatoes into an equal amount of tomato sauce. Yes, catsup and even some canned tomato sauce have sugar added to them. Almost any commercially made food product does nowadays.
Even using the catsup however, there should be minimal sugar compared to commercially bottled sauces. The carb count on almost all of them is off the charts, esp if you consider they typically measure by the teaspoon as a serving size.
Once you’ve made the sauce once, it’s easy to tweak to personal tastes. I use one larger onion that would equate out to about 1 1/2 medium onions for example.
Note this will be a thinner sauce too; authentic old school Texas before everybody started using mollasses to turn their sauces into overly sweet gunk. It’ll stick to food fine however. 🙂
In between all the chores, I did find time Monday to apply my tasty slow cooking techniques to some beef Tri-Tip from Costco. It’s just taken a couple days to get to blogging about it.
Half the time, I’ll use my dual grill method and slow smoke until the meat hits an internal temperature of 100 degrees, then put it on a hot charcoal grill to put a nice sear on the meat and get the IT to 135 degrees. This time, I didn’t feel like fussing with two grills. I slow smoked at 180 degrees for a little over an hour to get the meat to 100 degrees, then I just cranked up the heat on the pellet smoker. So, no grill marks, but it did turn out very tasty:
And for those who are curious… Yes, just basic salt, pepper and garlic for a rub. That’s almost all I ever use. Good meat doesn’t need sugar and other fluff. 🙂
It’s FINALLY time! Yep, the pictures are downloaded and I finally have time to tell the tale. Easily offended vegetarians, vegans, kosher and halal eaters may want to leave now. 😀
That said, here’s the run down on the BBQ a couple of days ago. St Louis style BBQ ribs were the main course.
For anyone who doesn’t know the difference, St Louis style spare ribs (keeping it simple) are from the thicker belly ribs on the pig. Baby Baby back ribs (a.k.a. loin ribs, back ribs, or Canadian back ribs) are taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. St Louis ribs are flatter, have a slightly higher fat content (which can make for good flavor), and brown more evenly. Baby Backs do come from adult pigs, and some people think they’re more tender. It’s more about how either is cooked though.
The same can be said with the meat content for either rib. St. Louis style come from the belly, so the thicker the meat on the ribs, the less bacon and pork belly you get from the pig. It all depends upon how both pieces of meat are cut and trimmed. I look for packages with nice thick ribs. 🙂
THAT is the bone side of the ribs. You want to cook the ribs with that side facing the heat to avoid drying out the meat. That layer of white across 2/3 of it is called silver skin (at least it is in cooking circles here). It’s a connective membrane that helps keep meat together and connect fatty tissue to meat. Now if the silver skin is thin, you can ignore it and let the cooking weaken it. THIS is really borderline, and I probably should have skinned it off. If it’s thicker or especially if you’re doing a competition, you want all silver skin gone. It can not only be tough, but it also blocks flavor from smoke or seasoning from getting through.
Now this is the other side. Almost all the meat on St Louis ribs are on this side or between the ribs. This side rarely has any silver skin, BUT…
That’s a perfect example of way too thick silver skin. I had to get my trusty Cutco fileting knife and cut that out. It would have been like having a piece of rubber in the ribs otherwise.
There was a little left further under that fold of fat and meat to the right but it was thinner and I didn’t want to cut away half the meat to chase, so I left it.
After that, it was time for the rub:
There’s BBQ folks that put 20 different seasonings in secret combinations to create a fancy rub. Almost all of them have brown or white sugar also. I believe in keeping it simple. Just like with my last few food posts, it was salt, pepper and garlic, then some of Costco’s mesquite flavoring.
With my family’s roots in Texas, I’m not big on sugar in cooking (baking is another story, hehe). Never mind it’s unhealthy, and hidden in everything we eat too. Even my BBQ sauce recipe (four generations old at this point) is only tomato, water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, lemon juice and a little Tabasco. Tangy and savory without being sickeningly sweet like the bottled stuff at the grocery stores.
Once all three racks of ribs were done, into the smoker they went:
Yep, it’s a big smoker, but we wanted one that would let us entertain.
Now in competition, the big thing with smoking ribs anymore is the “3-2-1” method. You start out low and slow for 3 hours, misting the ribs as you go, then at the 3 hour mark, you pull them, put them in a ‘boat’ of aluminum foil, add some apple cider, seal it up and throw the ribs back on for 2 hours. This lets them steam in the apple cider. Pork and apple are a good pairing, so if you want to do sweet, that’s a good option. This also supposedly keeps the ribs from drying out due to the prolonged cook. Then the last hour, you pull them back out of the foil and cook them “naked” again to finish cooking and hopefully put a little bark on the ribs.
Me… I have to be different, LOL
Here’s what I don’t like about the 3-2-1 method. First, the few times I tried it, I tasted more apple than pork. No bueno. Secondly, the time spent steaming in the apple cider tended to make the ribs a little mushy. Yes, I went fairly light on the cider too. 🙂 The mushiness wasn’t horrible, but you just couldn’t get a good looking bark or crust to the ribs. Lastly, the method is really intended for an old fashioned ‘stick burner’ smoker. Those are designed to operate around 250 degrees F (121degrees C) or so. Using a pellet grill, I am able to keep a very constant heat as low as 180 degrees. I just do a straight cook through, spraying the ribs every half hour or so to keep them moist. When they’re within 30 or 40 degrees of done, I turn up the temperature on the pellet grill and finish them off, putting a nice bark on them:
Do those look dry at all? LOL Because I go low and slow, I’m able to get smoke flavor and coloring all through the ribs also. I had one guest as me if they were done because of that even pink color. 😀
One thing I didn’t cover was the “spritz” AKA what I spray them with while cooking. Apple cider is again a common choice. Too sweet though, especially if you’re doing the 3-2-1 method also. What I use on either beef or pork is a mixture of broth, water and pepsi or coke. 1 part Pepsi to two parts water to 4 parts broth. Using broth as a primary ingredient keeps the flavor pure. Just use beef broth for beef and pork broth for pork. The water keeps the broth weak enough that the meat doesn’t taste like soup, and helps with moisture. The soda pop helps the spritz stick, adds a little browning and just a touch of sweet without overpowering the meat’s flavor.
One last note: Ribs are properly done when they have an internal meat (not bone or fat) temperature of 185 to 200 degrees. At that point, the meat should stay on bone, but still come away easily with a light tug of the fingers or teeth. If it’s tough, it’s undercooked. If it falls apart, it’s been cooked to death. My own personal experience vs conventional wisdom is that 185 to 190 is about the ideal temperature.
And that’s it for Silk’s scrumptious Southern style BBQ ribs. 🙂
We also had leftover Brisket and chicken, along with that homemade BBQ sauce I mentioned, green beans and bacon, smoked portabella mushrooms sauteed in marsala and garlic, biscuits, a green salad and raspberry and yogurt fruit salad sort of thing I found on Pinterest.
All of that would take an entire second post however, lol.