Off to the Press

The HoustonPress, that is. Wondering why there isn’t much to read on this post? That’s because I wrote a post for the HoustonPress’ food blog, Eating Our Words.

I’ll be writing for them on occasion, getting the background story on some of Houston’s old-timers. Restaurants, not peeps. I’ll be checking out restaurants that have been around for at least 20 years and still rocking.

Go on! Go to Eating Our Words and look me up! Then stay there, but don’t forget to come back. jiji

Cookingly yours (even if elsewhere),

Here’s a taste.


The grill is calling. RIB IT!

Summer is the time when people start thinking about firing up their grills. When you have block BBQs. When you picnic. Depending on where you live, Summer may be on its way out. For me, living in Hell’s Waiting Room aka Houston, TX, Summer is still in full swing and will be for another 3 months or so. No kidding.

The Hubbz is in charge of the grill in our family. That’s because I’m unwilling to stand in the heat and then take on the heat and smoke from the grill. I don’t enjoy smelling like hickory or maple or any kind of smoke, for that matter. So he does it because he loves, but mostly because he loves grilling. And since I love him, I try to keep him from the grill while Hell’s Waiting Room is in the triple digit range.

I’ve rambled on. Heat does that to my brain. So do delicious, falling-off the bone, tangy sweet pork spareribs. Yep. That’s what this is all about. Pork. Isn’t that what it’s always about? I’ve shared other recipes for spareribs: oven-q’d and tamarind glazed. This time we’re talking grilled and basted with my Dad’s secret recipe. It won’t be secret after this post, sorry Dad.

Spareribs tend to have more meat and fat than baby back ribs, they’re also not as tender but they ARE much less expensive than the skinny little baby ribs. Besides, who wants to be accused of eating baby parts? I say, if you’ve not tried spareribs, give them a chance.

Dad’s BBQ Spareribs

For the ribs
1 spare rib rack, fat trimmed (approx 5 lbs)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients into a dry paste, and rub it into the ribs. Allow them to marinate for a few hours or overnight if you have the time. Keep them refrigerated until 30 minutes before cooking. In the meantime, prepare the bbq sauce.

Dad’s Awesome BBQ Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, pureed
3 thyme sprigs, chopped
1-1/2 cp ketchup
1-1/2 tbsp English dry mustard
1 tsp allspice
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cp water
Salt & pepper
Hot sauce, to taste

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the onions, cooking them until translucent. Then add the garlic and thyme, cook for just a couple of minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the next 7 ingredients and stir well. Allow them to simmer for about 20 minutes or so, until it thickens nicely. Adjust the seasoning as necessary, to include some hot sauce for a bit of a kick. Set aside to cool.

Cooking the ribs:
The secret to great spareribs is to cook them slowly, at low temperatures. We use one of those Lil Smokey grills, nothing fancy, but gets it done every time. The Hubbz builds the fire and let’s it cool down to low on the Lil Smokey gauge. You want to cook them at a temperature no higher than 325. While your grill reaches the right temperature, get the ribs ready for their tan-time.

Create a steam tent by measuring out 2 pieces of heavy foil paper to the length of the rib rack. Align both pieces together and fold the seams together to about 1/2-in wide. Then fold again, the objective is to seal it so you have no leaks. Now you should have one long and wide piece of foil.

Place the ribs in the middle of the foil tent, then join the edges together and seal them closed. Carefully place the foil-wrapped ribs over your preheated grill, put the lid over and let them cook undisturbed. You’re looking at about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, so keep an eye on the heat and add a bit more charcoal as needed.

At the end of 90 minutes, remove the tented ribs from the grill, don’t panic, they’re not done cooking. It’s time to heat up the fire a bit. Add more charcoal and, if you like the smoky flavors of bbq, add some wood chips–hickory, apple, maple.

Remove the ribs from the foil and baste both sides with the sauce. Once the heat has come up, place the ribs back on the fire. You will need to stay close by, because the sauce will begin to caramelize and can burn if you’re not paying attention. Give the ribs a flip and baste. If you do this at about 5 minute intervals, you’ll be able to bake on that sauce after 2 or 3 flips. Believe me, you want to bake it on. 

Notice how the meat has shrunken away from the bones? That’s prove positive you’re about to eat some ‘fall off the bone ribs’. Alternatively, you could cook the ribs tented in the oven for the first 90 minutes, then transfer to the grill to add some of that smokiness and char marks. This goes great with potato salad and roasted corn on the cob!

Cookingly yours,

So you think you can’t grill?

Winter. I love it. My friends think I’m crazy or mentally ill, then again, I guess that’s the same thing. In any case, I also love things grilled. I don’t, however, love smelling like I grilled things. Luckily, I now have a hubby who loves to fire up the grill, his only restriction is weather over 50° and we’ve not had that for a while.

I still want my ribs, darn it! So, I made them indoors and OH.MY.GAWD they were delicious.  I followed my Dad’s method and tweaked his sauce to add  a Mexican twist. See below for finger-lickin-goodness.

Honey Chipotle Spareribs

1 4-5lb spare rib rack, fat trimmed
Seasoned with:
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

For the basting sauce:
1 7oz can crushed chipotle peppers
2 tsp sea salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cp honey
2 tbsp brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp Rosemary

After you have seasoned the ribs, mix the ingredients for the sauce and set it aside. Preheat oven to 350°.

In order to cook the ribs in the oven, you need a steam tent. Cut 2 pieces of foil paper the length of the rack. Line both pieces together and fold the seems together to about 1/2-in wide. Then fold again, the objective is to seal it so you have no leaks.

Use a cookie sheet or a baking pan, place the foil tent over it. Rub 1/2 of the sauce over the ribs–both sides. Place the rack on the foil tent, and seal the top of the tent folding it the same way you sealed the bottom. Place it in the oven and allow it to steam for 90 minutes. Now forgetaboutit!

At the end of 90 minutes, pull out the ribs and carefully open the top of the tent. Remember there’s a LOT of steam in there, don’t burn yourself. The ribs will be cooked through, but not quite falling off the bone yet. 

Baste the top with the rest of the sauce, loosely close the tent and allow it to cook for another 15 minutes. After that time, open the tent and allow it cook uncovered for 15 more minutes. This last step will caramelize the sauce and make the ribs nice and sticky.

You’re done! Start eating! They go divinely with my potato salad.

Cookingly yours,