Archive for the ‘barbecue’ Category

I’m a fan of Berkshire pork, also known as kurobuta pork. It’s a heritage breed with wonderful, tasty “good” fat, which gives the meat fantastic flavor any way you cook it. I get it on line, and keep a stash of cuts (pork belly, pork chops, ribs, etc.) in my freezer.

But I was craving a pork loin the other day, and not having one of those in my arsenal, I searched for one in my local store. I found one that was humanely raised and organic, with a nice layer of fat on top ideal for low-and-slow cooking…certainly worth a try.

There are as many pork rubs out there as there are barbecue fanatics, and nobody has “the best” rub. The best rub is the one you make with the ingredients that you like. So, go with your favorite flavors, and you won’t go wrong.

This time around, I used this combination…

 

 

2 tablespoons Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal. See note below.)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

 

Combine these in a bowl and set it aside.

 

Not all Kosher salt weighs the same, so equal measurements of different brands will give you different levels of saltiness and different results. The two biggest brands are Morton’s and Diamond Crystal, but Diamond Crystal is less dense…it weighs less than Morton’s. Keep that in mind as you salt your food. That’s why you’ll see Kosher salt measured by weight, not by volume, in many recipes.

I had a 4-lb. pork loin this time. I removed it from its wrapper and placed it in a tray for seasoning. I gently scored the fat cap with a sharp knife so the fat melt while cooking, and so that I could really rub my spice blend into every bit of the meat.

I inserted a meat probe in the deepest part of the loin, so that it would notify me when my pork loin reaches its optimum temperature.

 

The pork loin, probed and ready.

 

I let the meat sit at room temperature for at least an hour, bringing the internal temperature of the meat from 33 to 68 degrees.

I use an electric smoker, so I plugged it in and set the temperature for 250 degrees. I added hickory chips through a side chute, so it smokes the meat while it cooks.

 

In the smoker…

 

It used to be that the recommended minimum cooking temperature for pork was 160 degrees. But today’s pork is different than our mama’s pork, and the current recommended temperature is 145 degrees. Personally, I don’t want to eat pink pork, but I also don’t want to dry it out…so I split the difference: I cook the pork until the thermometer reads 145, then I remove it from the smoker, cover it in foil, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. In that time, the temperature of the meat still rises a few degrees, and that’s when I’m OK to serve it.

 

I’m notified when the pork reaches the desired temperature.

 

I leave the probe in the pork so I can monitor the temperature while it’s resting. Jumped 1 degree by the time I brought it into the kitchen!

 

Resting, wrapped in foil. My small pork loin went up a total of 4 degrees, to 149. But larger cuts of meat will experience an even bigger temperature jump.

 

Delicious and perfectly smoked!

 

The relatively flat pork loin actually tightened up and became rounder during the smoking/cooking process.

 

 

 

 

I always get asked if I deep-fry my turkey for Thanksgiving. I think it’s way too messy and time-consuming for nothing better than an “OK-tasting” bird. I lived in the South for a few years, and my friends fried a turkey on several occasions. I wasn’t impressed.

First, you need to find a safe spot in the yard to blast the propane-fueled fryer so you don’t burn your house down. Then you need to stand outside and freeze your butt off while it fries, while your friends and family are all indoors having cocktails. Then you need to get rid of gallons of used oil, and clean up a huge mess at the end of it all. And through all this, you need to make sure the oil is at the right temperature so you don’t get a scorched turkey on the outside and a raw turkey on the inside.

No, thanks.

I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. I’ve cooked it this way every Thanksgiving for about 25 years. The standard Weber allows me to cook up to a 15 lb. bird–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious. If you’re afraid to try this for the first time at Thanksgiving when it really matters, buy a turkey right now, grill it, and bring a bunch of turkey sandwiches to work to share with your friends….then wait for their reaction.

Or be bold! Go for the gusto the first time around. I did it that way and I never looked back.

 

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

 

Although I’ve stopped using charcoal briquettes for basic grilling a long time ago, and now strictly use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with Kingsford briquettes. They burn slowly and evenly. I never use lighter fluid…I always start my fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.

 

The tools you need:
A Weber grill, with the dome top
Kingsford charcoal briquettes (don’t t use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)
A charcoal chimney, easily found at Home Depot or Lowe’s
A heavy-duty disposable aluminum pan

 

Ingredients:
Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs., thawed and brined (see my previous blog about brining a turkey)
Olive oil (to rub on the turkey)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ lb. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper

 

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

 

If you want stuffing, it’s always wise to make it separately and cook it separately.

Light 8 to 10 lbs. of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

If you brined the turkey first, you’ve already removed the giblets. If you’re not brining, go ahead remove the giblets from the thawed bird now. Place the turkey in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix the granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt, and pepper. (Definitely add any other seasonings you might like.)

Coarsely chop the onions and celery. Place them in a another bowl. Mix them with the melted butter and 1/3 of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture. Place a small handful of this onion and celery “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

 

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

 

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber grill equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If you’re using a meat thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your aluminum pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the vents on the lid. It’s important to get air circulating!

 

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!

My old-school meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! (Newer thermometers are wireless and talk to your smart phone.) Time to join family and friends for a cocktail!

 

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises. The internal meat temperature should be around 165 degrees.

And believe it or not, a 15-lb. turkey will be cooked in about 2 hours!

If you’re using a meat thermometer (recommended), remove the turkey when it hits about 160 degrees, wrap it in foil, leaving the thermometer still in the bird, and let it rest at least 20 minutes. The temperature will go up a bit to 165 or even a little higher, before it starts going down.

 

Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!

Beautifully grilled, perfectly cooked!

 

The side dishes for Thanksgiving are as important as the main course.  In the next couple of blogs, I’ll share my recipes for Oysters Rock-a-Fellow and butternut squash with cranberries.

I usually post on Sundays, but we’re heading out on our annual 94HJY rafting trip with a busload of listeners tomorrow. (We’re a classic rock station out of Providence, RI. Find us at: http://www.94hjy.com.)

We raft on the mighty Kennebec River in The Forks, Maine, with Crab Apple Whitewater.

The folks at Crab Apple are truly my friends, as I’ve rafted with them since 1990 on over 50 trips in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont! We started a radio station rafting trip about 12 years ago, and our listeners look forward to it every year.

If you want a fun rafting experience, the folks at Crab Apple do it better than anyone else….whether you sign up with Jen and Frank in Massachusetts, or with Carrie and Rob in Maine.

There’s still about a month of the season left! So sign up for your trip right now: http://www.crabapplewhitewater.com!

 

This was a huge hit when I brought them to a recent neighborhood party. Imagine the best of a deviled egg and a BBQ chicken sandwich, and you’ve got this appetizer that rocks in more ways than one. This is a great appetizer you can make ahead of time. I boil the eggs and make the cole slaw the day before, then keep them in the fridge. Even the chicken can be cooked the day before and then warmed through before assembling right before your guests arrive. Be sure to make a lot of them…they’ll go faster than the hard-boiled eggs in “Cool Hand Luke!”

This recipe is gluten-free, as long as you use GF soy sauce.

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For the chicken and BBQ sauce:
3 cups ketchup (I use Heinz organic)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use La Choy: it’s gluten-free)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

 

For the cole slaw:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (always Hellman’s)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
For the deviled eggs:
6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard (I use Gulden’s)

 

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, and brown sugar in a oven-proof pot with a lid. Mix well, then add the chicken breasts, making sure they’re immersed in the sauce. Cook low and slow in the oven for about 3–4 hours.

When the chicken is cooked through, shred the meat with 2 forks. Set it aside, but keep it warm.

Combine all the cole slaw ingredients in a bowl, mixing well, and place them in the fridge.

For perfectly hard-boiled eggs, place the eggs in a pot of cold water, and turn the heat on high. Just before the water starts to boil, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat off. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Once cooked, keep the eggs in the fridge.

Slice the eggs in half and place the yolks in a bowl with the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix well and keep in the fridge.

To assemble, take a teaspoon of the mayo/mustard/yolk mixture and place it in the cavity of one of the egg halves. Place another teaspoon of the shredded chicken on top (I like it warm, to counter the cold of the mayo and cole slaw), drizzling a little of the BBQ sauce that you cooked the chicken with on the meat. Then place a teaspoon of the cole slaw on top of the chicken.

Serve immediately!

It seems like the popularity of shishito peppers has exploded overnight. Once a rare treat that I could only get on the menu at one of my favorite Boston restaurants, Toro, now they’re everywhere: farmers markets, bistro and pub menus, and of course…my own garden!

 

Shishitos are on almost every menu these days!

 

Shishito peppers are mostly mild…but you can get hold of a spicy one every 10 peppers or so…kind of a Russian pepper roulette!

 

Shishitos straight from the garden!

 

Shishitos are incredibly easy to grow…just like any other pepper. They love a full day’s worth of sun, and lots of fertilizer. If you have success growing tomatoes, shishitos should be on your list. Plus, they’re really quite prolific: it’s not uncommon to find a couple dozen peppers growing on each plant!

Shishitos are also easy to prepare, and take just minutes. Ideally, if you’ve already got a charcoal grill going, you’re almost there. Simply place the shishitos in a bowl and drizzle in a little olive oil. Toss the peppers to coat, and place them directly on the ashed-over coals of the fire. Work quickly turning them over with tongs. You want them to blister, but you don’t want them to burn! They’ll pop, deflate, and get soft. That’s when they’re ready. Simply place them on a serving plate, and sprinkle some really good sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel) over them while they’re still hot.

 

 

If you don’t have the time for a charcoal grill, you can still prepare delicious shishitos by placing them in a pan. Sprinkle in a little olive oil, and toss them around to coat them. Turn the burner on high, and cook the shishitos until they’re blistered, but not burned. Cook them on all sides, carefully flipping them over with tongs. Like on the charcoal, they will pop, deflate and get soft. Transfer them to a serving plate and sprinkle immediately with salt.

 

To enjoy shishitos, you simply grab them by the stem and bite!

As I’ve mentioned previously, I love the Kona-crusted NY strip at the Capital Grille, so much so that it inspired me to make a coffee rub of my own. I’ve been using it on steaks and burgers for years. But last week, I used it on a slow-smoked pork shoulder for the first time, and it was fantastic!

I used a smaller pork shoulder, about 6 lbs., and smoked it for about 12 hours. Obviously, if you use a larger hunka meat, you’ll need more time. I prefer a bone-in shoulder over boneless. I think it gives greater flavor.

 

Rubbed and ready to smoke!

 

My coffee rub is easy to make, and I usually make a lot of it at once, since it stores well.

 

3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground coffee (use your favorite)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

I mix all the ingredients well, then rub generously on the pork shoulder before placing it a 250-degree smoker for about 12 hours. I use an electric smoker, which allows me to set the temperature and forget it, with the exception of occasionally adding hickory chips. I love just a hint of smokiness…I don’t want the rub to be overpowered by the smoke.

 

Perfectly smoked, with the bone easily sliding out of the shoulder.

The brown sugar in the coffee rub creates a beautiful crust on the meat, which goes really well with the pork and the barbecue sauce I make.

The barbecue sauce uses much-needed vinegar. It cuts through the rich fattiness of the pork, and is absolutely delicious.

2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons white vinegar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

 

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. If you store it in an airtight container in the fridge, it’ll stay good for a few months.

 

A beautifully smoked pork shoulder, amazing barbecue sauce…what more do you need for an amazing pulled pork sandwich except a toasted brioche bun and perhaps some of my world-famous home fries on the side?

The home fries? That recipe is for another blog!

 

 

Out on the North Fork of Long Island, there’s a steak restaurant called the Elbow Room. It’s nothing fancy…old school cooking. But they’re famous for their steaks because of a super-secret marinade. Ages ago, I spotted a newspaper article that claimed they found out what that secret marinade was, and they published it. Whether this really is the official Elbow Room marinade or not, I have to say it’s pretty darn tasty and it makes for a delicious steak on the grill.

 

 

My biggest concern with the marinade was the salt factor, since it uses soy sauce. But the ribeye I had was almost an inch-and-a-half thick, which meant that it could sit in the marinade for a long time…my ribeye sat in it for 8 hours. If you choose to use a thinner cut of meat, you might need to reduce your marinating time.

The recipe uses a product called Gravy Master, available in most supermarkets. Look for it in the section where you find gravies and instant potatoes.

 

1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Gravy Master
2 large Vidalia onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

Combine the onions and garlic in a large food processor and purée. Add the remaining ingredients and run the processor until it’s smooth and sort of resembles root beer (below.)

 

Marinate the beef in the marinade overnight, or for as long as possible. The thicker the cut of meat, the longer you can marinate it.

Looks delicious, but it hasn’t been cooked yet! Straight out of the marinade.

 

Light the grill. I prefer pure hardwood charcoal because that’s where the flavor is. If I’m just cooking one steak, I get my camping grill out. It lights quickly and easily, and it doesn’t waste a whole lotta charcoal.

Always use a charcoal chimney, never lighter fluid…unless you like the taste of petroleum products in your food.

 

Pure hardwood charcoal gives you a hot fire. I like to sear the beef really well on both sides, then move the steak to a cooler spot on the grill and close the cover. I’ll let the beef cook until it gets to a perfect medium-rare.

 

If you try this marinade on burgers–and it’s great on burgers–simply brush the burgers with the marinade as you place them on the grill. Go easy or you’ll get a very salty burger.

 

Marinated grilled ribeye with a side of fried rice…an easy combination of veggies and rice leftovers I had in the fridge with a dash of soy sauce.

 

 

 

I’ve got two methods for cooking pork chops, each depending on the thickness of the chop. If the pork chop is thin, I got for high heat over hardwood charcoal, flipping the meat often so that it cooks all the way through without burning. The famous Cope Chops are perfect for this method. (https://wp.me/p1c1Nl-1xU)

Cope chops.

 

 

But if I’ve got a thicker chop, I like to brine it first, so that it retains its moisture during a longer cooking process. I brine the chops for a couple of hours, then light a fire using charcoal briquets, which will give me a steadier, longer-lasting flame.

Nice, thick chops!

 

Making a brine is easy, and it adds wonderful flavor to the chop. I use a smaller batch of the brine I use on my Thanksgiving turkey.

2 quarts water
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1/2 cup Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice
2 bay leaves
2 quarts ice water
2 to 4 thick-cut pork chops

 

Pour the first 2 quarts of water into a large pot. Quarter the onions, carrots, and celery (not need to peel them) and add them to the water. Add the Kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice, and bay leaves. (A note on the Kosher salt: different brands have different weights. For example, Morton Kosher Salt is heavier than Diamond Crystal, so you’ll be adding more salt with the same 1/2 cup measurement.)

Boil for a few minutes, then remove from heat to cool.

 

Let the pot come to a boil for a few minutes. Remove it from the heat and let the brine cool down to room temperature.

Once the brine is at room temp, add the 2 quarts of ice water, and drop in the pork chops. Make sure they stay covered with the brine. Let the chops brine for about 2 hours.

The chops are in there!

 

After 2 hours of brining, rinse the chops under cold water, and pat them dry with paper towels. Discard the brine.

Light a fire using charcoal briquets. While the fire is heating up, make the rub for the pork chops.

 

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Combine the salt, garlic, onion, brown sugar and pepper in a bowl, and then season the chops liberally on all sides with the mixture.

Pork chops with the rub. I love grilling some Vidalia onions, too.

 

Let the chops rest at room temperature while you’re waiting for the grill.

Once the coals are ready, I establish a hot side and a cool side on the grill. I sear the chops on the hot side of the grill, being careful not to burn them. (The sugar in the rub may char a bit, but that’s OK.)

 

Once you’ve got a nice sear on all the chops, move them to the cooler side of the grill, and close the lid, making sure there’s air circulating so you don’t smother the fire.

Having a meat thermometer is handy, because although you want pork to be cooked thoroughly, you don’t want to overcook it. You’re looking for a temperature of 160 degrees for pork. Once you’ve reached that, you remove the chops from the grill, put them on a plate, and cover them with foil to rest for about 15 minutes. During that time, the interior temperature of the chops will rise to about 170, before slowly cooling down.

Removing the chops and letting them rest gives you enough time to throw some tasty veggies on the grill. I like to simply rub them with olive oil, and any of the pork rub that may be left over, tossing them over the hot part of the coals until just cooked.

 

 

By the way, when using a meat thermometer, be careful you don’t do something dumb, like I did. I didn’t notice that I had it on a Celsius setting, instead of Fahrenheit. So I couldn’t understand why my chops were “only” at 60 degrees after a long time of cooking! (That’s 140 Fahrenheit!) I caught my mistake in time, fortunately not cooking the crap out of my chops!!

 

 

 


There’s no problem with your bird, she said to me
Just go low and slow to cook it perfectly
A few choice seasonings end up deliciously
There must be 50 ways to roast your chicken…
There’s nothing better than a whole roasted chicken. Simply season it, pop it in the oven and go low and slow. No maintenance, and you’ve got a great bird in a couple of hours. 
Once you go with humanely raised pastured chicken, you’ll never go back to supermarket chicken again. The flavor is fantastic, and you’ll devour it right down to the bones, which you can use to make the best home-made chicken stock or soup you’ve ever had. Nothing goes to waste.
I roast at least one chicken every week, so to change it up, I’ve come up with many different rubs and sauces over the years. All of the rubs are sugar and gluten-free preparations. 
Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon
 IMG_9146
The lemon serves double-duty in this dish. You use the zest to season the outside skin, then you place the remaining cut up pieces inside the carcass to flavor from the inside out.
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
zest from 2 lemons, using a micro plane zester, the leftover lemons quartered
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a bowl, combine the rosemary, garlic, salt, lemon zest, and pepper. 
Thaw a bird, remove the giblets, and rub it all over with olive oil. Shove the quartered lemon pieces into the carcass of the bird. Season the bird inside and out with the rosemary seasoning mix.
Place the bird on a pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil in a pre-heated 450-degree oven. Cook for 10 minutes at this temperature, then reduce to 275 degrees and cook low and slow until done.
Tarragon Chicken
I love the taste of chicken seasoned with tarragon. Careful with this, or you will accidentally devour your fingers!
1 tablespoon dried tarragon, crumbled into a powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil
In a bowl, combine the tarragon, garlic salt, salt and pepper.
Thaw a bird, remove the giblets, and rub it all over with olive oil. Season the bird inside and out with the seasoning mix.
Place the bird on a pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil in a pre-heated 450-degree oven. Cook for 10 minutes at this temperature, then reduce to 275 degrees and cook low and slow until done.
Italian Chicken
FullSizeRender
The darker color of the bird comes from rubbing it first with balsamic vinegar, then olive oil, before coating it with Italian seasonings. Don’t use the fancy, expensive balsamic. The bottles that go for about 9 bucks in the supermarket work well for this recipe.
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
Thaw a bird, remove the giblets, and rub it all over with the balsamic vinegar. Then rub it all over with the olive oil. Season the bird inside and out with the seasoning mix.
Place the bird on a pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil in a pre-heated 450-degree oven. Cook for 10 minutes at this temperature, then reduce to 275 degrees and cook low and slow until done.
My Grandma’s Chicken
My grandmother would cook chicken thighs low and slow all Saturday morning, knowing that I was coming over for lunch after Lithuanian school. The meat just fell off the bone, and I couldn’t stop eating it. This recipe is so simple and works just as well for a whole bird. Every time I make this, I think about those days at my grandmother’s house.
Lawry’s Seasoned salt
Olive oil
Thaw a bird, remove the giblets, and rub it all over with olive oil. Season the bird inside and out with the Lawry’s Seasoned salt.
Place the bird on a pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil in a pre-heated 450-degree oven. Cook for 10 minutes at this temperature, then reduce to 275 degrees and cook until done.
If you’re using chicken thighs, like my grandmother did, make sure they have the skin on and the bone in.

When I was a kid, no visit to a Chinese restaurant was complete without an order of those sweet, greasy and radioactive red spare ribs. They came in that foil-lined bag that barely kept them warm until my dad got us home to devour them along with the other classics: fried dumplings, and wonton soup with fried wontons on the side. I still see those ribs on menus even today, and despite my cravings, I just don’t eat fire-engine-red-dyed food anymore.

Imagine my excitement when I saw a recipe for those classic spare ribs in a food magazine. I figured I’d just make them without the food coloring.

 

I let the meat sit in the marinade for an hour at room temp, then move it to the fridge.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever had all the ingredients to make a recipe exactly as written, and this was no exception. For one thing, the original recipe called for dry sherry. I didn’t have it so I used dry marsala wine. I didn’t even have the pork ribs, so I substituted a beautiful slab of grass-fed beef flap. The results were still delicious. But feel free to use pork ribs, as originally intended. And if you can’t find beef flap, a cut like skirt steak is a good substitute.

1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dry marsala wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or through a press
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
2 lbs. beef flap (skirt steak or hanger steak works, too)

To make the marinade, combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, marsala wine, garlic, sugar and Chinese five spice in a bowl. Mix well.

Trim the excess fat and silver skin off the beef flap, and if it’s thick, slice it lengthwise to make a thinner piece of meat about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.

Place the meat in the marinade, making sure it gets well coated on all sides. Marinate the meat at room temperature for about 60 minutes. If you have a thicker cut of meat, you can marinate it longer.

Drain and discard the marinade.

Heat a cast iron pan and add a little lard or oil. Place the beef flap pieces in the pan, searing well on one side before flipping over to the other. If the meat is thin, you can cook it to a medium-rare right there on the stove top. You might need to finish the beef in a 350-degree oven if you’re using a thicker cut.

The meat also cooks beautifully under the broiler or on the grill. If using the broiler, just watch out for flare-ups from the fat. It can get smokey. I literally picked up my toaster oven and moved it under the hood of my stove so that the smoke was sucked up and vented out. (The first time I broiled, my kitchen filled with smoke!)

 

 

To make the Chinese ribs with this marinade: simply place the ribs and the marinade in a Ziploc bag at room temperature for at least 60 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the ribs on a baking sheet with a wire rack on top. Save the marinade…and baste the ribs with it every 30 minutes, turning the ribs over as you do so. Cook until the ribs are done, about 2 hours.

 

Beef flap or flap steak is a cut from the lower sirloin. It’s a long, thin cut that resembles skirt steak or hanger steak, though they come from a different part of the animal.

You can stuff and roll a beef flap, as I did in a previous blog, but it’s really hard to beat the flavor of a slab of beef that was simply marinated and thrown on the grill.

Though the beef flap is a relatively thin piece of meat, I carefully butterfly it by slicing it lengthwise with a sharp knife, to get 2 thinner pieces that really absorb the marinade.

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1 lb. (or more!) beef flap steak, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar works just as well)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
salt and pepper

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To make the marinade, combine everything but the beef in a bowl and whisk to mix thoroughly. Place the beef in a large Ziploc bag and add the marinade. Squeeze the bag so that the marinade reaches every part of the beef. Squeeze the air out of the bag, zip it tightly, and place it in a bowl (in case of accidental spillage) in the fridge. Let it marinate overnight, squeezing the bag every few hours to let the marinade do its job. Remove the bag from the fridge about an hour before grilling so the meat comes to room temperature.

Light a hardwood fire. When the coals are really hot, place the steak on the grill and sear each side. Then flip to sear the other side. Flip again to get those fancy diamond marks on the beef. Then flip again.

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The meat has little fat, so it should be nicely seared on the outside, but still medium-rare on the inside. Let it rest before slicing. When slicing, cut the beef on an angle against the grain.