Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Famous James' Ribs with Sawyers "Secret" Sauce

My husband's great secret is that he's actually a good cook. A great cook, in point of fact, when properly motivated.  To him, cooking is scientific procedure, and he approaches it with the same methodical consistency as he does when running labs in his classroom. He's even got cooking chops, of a sort, having taken foods (or cooking, or home ec, or whatever the PC term is these days) back in high school.

Nevertheless, it takes quite a bit to get him excited about cooking. Cooking for a crowd can do it, as can the macho male stereotype of grilling.  It is one of the only ways my Mister is stereotypical to his gender.

During one of these rare times, searching for a dish to impress, he took Alton Brown's ribs recipe, tweaked the rub, then paired it with a secret sauce recipe we got from a restaurant since closed. The Frankenstein-like recipe stitching worked, so well, in fact, that this is now his signature dish.

I felt it needed a wider audience than it currently has, especailly the sauce (until Sawyers rises again, at least): It's vingeagry, but thick, and uses coffee, raisins, and a ton of garlic. 

Alton's ribs recipe is unimpeachable: he braises in the oven, then finishes on the grill. However, it's not true barbecue. But it does make for a super tender result.

Famous James' Ribs with Sawyers "Secret" Sauce

The Sauce (adapted from Sawyers Gourmet Pancake House)
Make it at least a day in advance. This makes, literally, a vat of sauce. It's a restaurant recipe, remember? So plan to freeze at least half when you make it. I like to do this in a crock-pot on a lazy Sunday, but you can do it in a stock pot too.

2 cups brewed coffee
4 cups ketchup
3 cups yellow mustard
1 cup molasses
2 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cinammon
8 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups raisins, chopped
 A stock pot, very large (6 qt +) saucepan, or 6 quart Crock-Pot 
Crock-Pot Method. Give yourself 8 hours at home, mostly unattended.
Put all the ingredients but the raisins in a slow cooker. Turn cooker on to low, and stir well. Come back and stir every half hour or so until everything is evenly mixed and it starts to get bubbly on the edges.  Turn off, add the raisins, stir. Reserve a cup and a half of sauce for the recipe, and freeze the rest. 

Stovetop method. Give yourself 2 hours, but it won't take quite that long.

Put all the ingredients but the raisins in a stock  pot large enough to hold it all. Stir well, bring to simmer, turn heat to low. Stir until everything is  completely mixed. Turn off, add the raisins, stir. Reserve a cup and a half of sauce for the recipe, and freeze the rest. 

The rub (Adapted from Who Loves Ya? Baby Back Ribs by Alton Brown)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
11/2 teaspoons dried Italian herb mix
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

Put it all in a large container with a tight fitting lid. Break up any big chunks of brown sugar. Cap the lid and shake the ever living heck out of it until well mixed. Shake again just before using. You should have enough for this batch of ribs and  the next.

The ribs
the rub (from above)
the sauce (from above)
2 2 pound slabs of baby back ribs
a large sheet pan
1 roll of heavy duty aluminum foil
basting brush
1 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic

Step 1. The night before. Give yourself a half hour.
Combine all ingredients for the braising liquid, then rub your ribs. Move a quarter to a half cup of your rub into a small bowl. This way,  if you dip your hand in after touching the ribs, you haven't contaminated all the rub.
Lay down a sheet of aluminum foil over the sheet pan large enough to wrap the ribs. Sprinkle rub on both sides of ribs, then rub it in, focusing on the meatiest side. Put the ribs down so that they look like a smiley face or U when you look at them, then wrap with foil, but leave one end open. Put the liquid in, then seal them up. Do the second set of ribs. Let them  sit on the sheet pan overnight.

Step 2. When you are ready to cook. Give yourself 4 hours between the time you start and the time you eat, mostly unattended.
Preheat the oven to 250.
Check to make sure the foil packets aren't leaking. If they are, wrap in another layer of foil. Carefully
Put ribs in and cook for  3 hours.
Remove ribs from the oven. You can hold them  here for a day in the fridge if you want to do work in advance, but make sure the ribs  come to room temperature before you do the next steps.
Open up the foil. Cut them into 2-3 rib pieces.
Turn on your broiler or grill.
Use the basting brush to coat the ribs with sauce.
Broil or grill just until the sauce sticks to the ribs and just barely starts to caramelize.
Enjoy with more sauce as you like.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Citric Acid Source

Such a sexy title for a blog post, I know.

Back in the day, when I wrote about my clone recipe for Baskin Robbins' Daiquiri Ice, I said citric acid might be hard to find outside of health food stores, so I gave a couple other options.

A lovely reader (I have readers?!) just let me know that she spotted citric acid near the canning supplies at her local Uber Mart. So, if you are looking to get your citric acid, now's the time.

Citric acid is the best ingredient to use if you can get it, because it adds tartness without adding sweetness or any other flavors. But, any of the other subsitutes like Fruit Fresh or even unsweetened Kool-Aid powder, will work fine. The main thing is to add a little at a time, and taste as you go. 

Each time you make the recipe, your limes will be a little different, so each time you'll need to add a different amount of sour.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Great Minds Think Alike (aka "Sloppy Eggs")

I’ve added a few dairy-free recipes to my normal routine, even though I can have the “good stuff” again. Most of these recipes were borne out of frustration and desperation—no time to cook with the liebschen underfoot, and no time to shop, and limited in what prepared foods I could purchase. But eggs and salsa were always A OK, cheap, and in my fridge.

So I created Sloppy Eggs. 

Now that the liebschen is sleeping better, and therefore I am sleeping better, I’ve had more time to cook, shop, and look around for recipes, but I still make sloppy eggs at least twice a month, because it’s so easy and so good.

Imagine my surprise when, paging through How to Cook Everything Vegetarian last night before bed, there was Mark Bittman’s version of Sloppy Eggs (though he calls them something else.) 

He takes more care with his version, but mine is better, if you don’t mind scrubbing your pan a little bit.

Sloppy Eggs (serves 2)
If you like things spicy, you can use a medium salsa. If you like spicy, but your partner does not, toss some hot sauce in after you serve.

4 eggs
Half a jar of tomato salsa with black bean and corn salsa
Hot sauce (optional)
Grated cheese (optional)

Starch for sopping – cup of pasta, rice, noodles, bread, baked/mashed potato, polenta, whatever you’re in the mood for. Enough for two generous servings.

Equipment: medium saucepan or skillet with a lid


Start your starch if you need to boil something.

Dump the jar of salsa into the pan. Turn heat to medium. Stir salsa until it starts to bubble just a little, then turn the heat to low.
Make a hole in the salsa with a spoon. Crack in four eggs.
Let eggs sit for 30 seconds, then spoon a little bit of sauce up and around the eggs.
Cover and let cook for another minute, then turn off heat and wait 2-3 minutes.
Get your starch ready.
Check eggs. If the whites on the tops of the eggs start to cloud over, you’re done. If they aren’t, cover, turn the heat on for another 30 seconds, then wait another minute or two.

Sloppy eggs aren’t fussy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My dairy free odyssey

Though Garlic is Love, dairy is life. Jalapeno poppers were a socially sanctioned way to eat vast quantities of cream cheese in public (same goes for crab rangoons). Cheese sticks and yogurt were go-to snacks, pizza was a weekly food at minimum, and fondue and souffle showed up quarterly. Then I had a baby who, like only 3% of babies out there, was allergic to dairy. Oh, and since 40% of babies allergic to dairy are also allergic to soy, my dr asked me to cut both from my diet, for 4 months. Most babies grow out of the allergy by a year, if not sooner. But that meant 4 months in a dairy free, soy-free wilderness. I say that to people I love, but I didn't think I'd ever have to prove it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lazy gardener is lazy

So, last year, I planted some garlic. .

Some is probably an understatement. It was 24 cloves in a 10 X 5 plot. I dug them up, washed them, cured them, and ate them through about October.

This year, the garden is fallow, because of a new job and new baby, I have no time.

I went to check out how bad the weeds were. Lots of grass-like stalks were popping up.

Oh great, I thought. But then I looked closer. Sniffed. Dug up one and sniffed again.

Garlic shoots! Apparently I hadn’t been very diligent at getting all the garlic out last year. So, the cloves and bits of cloves that stayed over the winter were coming to life again.

Happy lazy gardener is happy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Baked Soup

Just as I was going to toss my soup into the Crock-Pot last night, I noticed that the plug had gotten stuck in the oven door. The plug had melted so that there was no way to plug in the Crock-Pot.

So I baked the soup instead.

When you call it “baked soup” it seems funny and strange. But really, this is the same method that’s used for beef bourguignon or coq a vin. Do a little work on the stovetop, then stick it in the oven, low and slow, and let heat and time do their magic.

In fact, this came out quite a bit better than my normal Crock-Pot fare.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cups beef broth
1/3 cup black beans (no soak)
¼ pound thinly shredded beef
½ bottle beer
½ cup tomato juice
1 cup rice noodles

Preheat oven to 300. Heat olive oil and onions over medium heat in oven-safe saucepan large enough to hold everything. Cook a few minutes until onions start to get clear.

Add everything else except for the beef. Turn to high and bring to boil. Once boiling, turn off the burner. Add beef, cover, and carefully (with hot pads) move into hot oven. Cook for 2 hours. Remove carefully (with hot pads), add 1 cup rice noodles, stir.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I love a good tool

Conventional kitchen wisdom says you only need a few quality tools in the kitchen to cook pretty much anything. I counter that certain tools, though "they" may call them superfluous, really do make it easier, and more likely, for the home cook to try certain things. That's been the case for me, anyways.

Take my food processor, for example. Once I got it, I made a lot more (and a lot better) pesto. Also, blended bean dips and other thicker dips made a more regular appearance at the table. There were just some things that my blender couldn't do very well.

My crock-pot allows me to cook when I don't have the time or the energy. I just put good ingredients in, turn it on, and walk away. It saves me time, and saves me from eating out and spending money.

Then there was the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Since it's arrival, I'm much more likely to do a cake from scratch, to make frosting, and to make bread even when I'm super busy.

And, of course, I can't forget the knives. My first Wusthof, then my santoku, opened up a whole new world of effecicient, effortless chopping.

My most recent purchase was a large skillet with a wide bottom. It's heavy like a cast-iron, but non-stick. And, the large surface area makes reducing a breeze. I've made sauces in a snap, shortened cooking time on soups and stews, and have finally learned how to saute properly.

Though most of these--other than the knives--aren't essential for a kitchen, they are now essential for my kitchen.

Here's a quick recipe that uses two of my tools to make a fast, tasty, fresh pasta sauce.

Slow Cooker tomato sauce
Several fresh tomatoes
large handful basil
1/4 cup red wine
4 garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper to taste
You'll also need a slow cooker, a blender or food processor, and a wide-bottomed saute pan with a lot of surface area.

Cut the tomatoes into big chunks. Toss them into the slow cooker with the other ingredients. Turn to low, and go to work.

Come home, and stir. Turn off heat, open lid. Carefully put mixture into blender. Blend until smooth. Be careful as it will be hot so pulse the blender until you're sure the lid won't pop off.

Transfer sauce to wide-bottomed saucepan. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed. Go for a little less salty than you think you need since it will be saltier when you reduce it.

Turn burner to high, and heat sauce until it starts bubbling. Turn heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce gets the thickness you want. For pasta, you'll want it thinner. For pizza, you'll want it pretty thick.
When the sauce gets as thick as you want, turn off the burner, and taste one more time, and see if it needs more salt or pepper. Here is where you'd add fresh herbs, a little more salt or pepper, some heavy cream, or even a shot of vodka.

Serve on whatever you like.