Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Love-filled, lively, lickable Labor Day

What started out as a, "Hey, let's check out this barbecue recipe," between a small number of close family turned in to a big Schuster/Freiberg/Merz family get together in our back yard.

Earlier in the week Polly sent an email to Dad, uncle Jon and I to share a recipe from America's Test Kitchen for Kansas City BBQ Sauce:

Kansas City barbecue sauce is very sticky, sweet, and smoky—far more so than most tomato-based sauces. We like our barbecue sauce extra-thick. If you like a thinner, smoother texture, the sauce can be strained after it has finished cooking.

Makes about 4 cups
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining ingredients, except for liquid smoke, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture is thick and has reduced to 4 cups, about 1 hour. Stir in liquid smoke, if using. (Sauce can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 1 week.)

Now doesn't that sound good?

Instead of making this, however, I mentioned a recipe I'd just seen on Simply Recipes for Grilled Spicy Citrus Ribs, and was curious to try. Not that the Kansas City BBQ recipe didn't sound good, but... I was hoping maybe we could have a little rib-off. ;-)

Unfortunately, uncle Jon is having major back pain and couldn't come over. And it was all very last minute that Polly and Dad decided to come over. Then on Monday morning Polly asked if we should invite Ginger Barton, if she was still in town. "Hey, that's a great idea!" Polly called Ginger and, indeed, she was in town for one more day before heading back to Oregon. She wanted to come to a BBQ, as did Wolfgang and Amy Schuster and their kids, Mason and Morgan, as well as Steve Schuster and their daughter, Bethany. Phew -- we just went from a few people to a full-on party. Since the Schusters and the Freibergs may as well be one family, this was one heck of a wonderful afternoon!

I made some ribs based on a combination of Simply Recipe's version and my uncle Jon's barbecue glaze (recipe at the end of this post), plus some strawberry lemonade. Polly brought some lentil and corn salad, popcorn and "broken peach frosting ice cream," and some marinated tri-tip. Dad brought a bunch of hummus dips, corn, sausages and beer. Wolf and Amy brought sourdough bread, potato salad, corn and limeade. Steve brought sourdough bread (still warm from the ovens) and garlic to make some great garlic/olive oil/vinegar dip, using the olive oil I received from Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy as part of my winnings in the Menu for Hope III raffle.


It was quite a feast and quite a love-fest. I absolutely love everyone who was at our home...

Now, for the recipes.

Strawberry Lemonade
Based on the basil lemonade from Orangette
2 cups Strawberry Lemon Syrup (see below)
2 cups cold water
2 cups ice cubes
1 ¼ cups fresh lemon juice

Stir together in a large pitcher and serve in a tall glass, "on the rocks."

Strawberry Lemon Syrup
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 strips of lemon zest
1 cup sliced strawberries

Bring water, sugar and lemon zest to a boil in a medium sized pot. Once boiled and the sugar is dissolved, turn off heat, add the strawberries, put a lid on the pot and let sit for at least an hour. Strain out strawberries and lemon zest and chill until ready to use.

Barbecuing ribs

Barbecued Ribs
Based on Simply Recipes Grilled Spicy Citrus Ribs
2 racks of ribs (about 4 pounds), St. Louis-cut spareribs or baby back ribs*
2 1/2 cups spicy citrus brine
Oil for the grill grate
1 cup "uncle Jon's glaze" (recipe to follow)

Spicy Citrus Brine
1 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (1-2 limes)
1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Prepare the brine. Combine the juices and water and measure in a measuring cup. You should have exactly 2 1/2 cups liquid. If you have less, add enough water so that you have 2 1/2 cups of liquid, if you have more, discard the excess. The correct ratio of liquid to salt is important for the brine to work properly. Place liquids in a medium sized bowl, add other brine ingredients - salt, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stir for half a minute until the salt has completely dissolved.

2. Prepare the ribs. If you want, remove the thin membrane that lines the concave side of each rib rack. This will make it easier for the brine and spices to penetrate as well as easier to cut and eat when the ribs are done. Insert a dull knife edge between the membrane and ribs to loosen. Grip the loosened membrane and pull away to remove. Cut the racks in half. Put in a plastic ziplock freezer bag. Add the brine to the bag. Squeeze the excess air out of the bag and seal the bag. Massage the brine into the ribs. Place the bag of brine and ribs into a bowl (in case there is leakage) and place into the refrigerator. Refrigerate in the brine for 3-6 hours. Note that brining too long can over-saturate the meat with the brine. So stick within the 3-6 hour time frame.

Uncle Jon's BBQ Glaze
1/2 cup good quality raspberry jam
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce

Stir ingredients in a bowl (or measuring cup) until thoroughly mixed.

Left-over bbq glaze

3. Heat the grill to 300-325 degrees with indirect heat. I was using a gas grill, which made this easy: I turned on the outer burners but left the middle flames off.

4. Remove the ribs from the ziplock and pat off them dry with paper towels. Place on the grill for about 25-30 minutes. After 20-25 minutes, flip the ribs and cook for another 15 minutes. Then brush on a liberal amount of Uncle Jon's Glaze and cook for 10 minutes. Flip ribs one more time, apply a liberal amount of glaze and cook for another 5 or 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the ribs, with an instant read thermometer, should read 155 degrees.

5. When the ribs are to temperature, take them off, let them rest a little while and then slice up in to one or two rib sections.

Grab your napkins and dig in!

1 comment:

  1. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee! What a fantastically phenomenal day and I was so glad to be a part of it. The food, the company, everything was just perfect! And to know there will always be more makes me smile. Much love...Amy