Tuesday, May 27, 2008

BBQ Ribs

Here in the city of San Francisco, our weather is pretty consistent. There isn't too much of a change between the seasons - it never really falls below 40 and rarely get above 80. Summer months are actually colder than fall with our Septembers and Octobers generally being the warmest and nicest months of the year. (It's said you can pick out tourist by looking for those wearing shorts and tanks during the "summer" months of June through August.) That said, it's easy to tell the turn of seasons from "winter" to "spring/summer" when the rooftop and BBQ invites start rolling out.

I personally use the grill every chance I get. I confess, cooking on the patio looking out at the Golden Gate bridge and a panoramic view of the Bay...it's a tough life (and one that I will miss very much when I move). A few weekends ago, a couple of my friends held a rooftop pre-Bay to Breakers party...hired bartender, grill and all. Oh, and fabulous ribs. Ribs that were so fabulous at the time that I'm having the friend responsible, HL, guest blog the ribs below -

Searching for the ultimate ribs recipe is a lot of fun, and a bit overwhelming. There are endless opinions on smoking vs grilling, on dry rubs vs wet, on secret spices or just slathering the entire thing in store-bought barbecue sauce. You know the old saying "there's no such thing as a bad bbq"? That's probably true - but it doesn't mean you can still be mightily disappointed when it just doesn't come out as great bbq.

For this recipe, I wanted to try something that I could do it my oven. Living in the city that's perpetually foggy, it's not uncommon to lack a backyard with the black weber grill. That ruled out quite a few recipes asking for wood chips, a smoker, and long overnight tending of the fire. Luckily enough, I did find a highly rated recipe over at Recipezaar, one that would start and finish the process completely inside an oven. By the way, let me sing the praises of having recipe reviews to sort through the good and bad. As anyone who's tried hunting down a good rib recipe can attest, there's no such thing as an identical marinade. Everyone has their own special version, and it's hard to figure out how one with apple juice would taste over one that uses orange juice. But with reviews in hand, it helps so much to see if it comes together well in the end, and if you need to make a few tweaks to really bring out the flavor.

Digression aside, I started with a slab of baby back pork ribs from Smart & Final. They definitely offer one of the best deals for raw ribs in town - a full set of 13 meaty ribs (~2.5 lbs) only took about $8 from my wallet. It's a great way to for first-time ribbers to try their hand without breaking the bank.

The recipe called for a wet rub, but I did lightly salt the pork ribs before pouring in the marinade. Something that was also really interesting - there was no overnight soaking. The recipe called for the marinade to be poured over and then thrown straight into the oven. A little tin foil on top to keep the moisture in, and that was it. 3 hours, 300 degrees, and ding - perfect, mouth-watering ribs. The smell was absolutely amazing, the meat literally fell off the bones, and the marinade had thickened into this delicious sauce to die for. Like some of the reviewers said, I brushed the ribs a bit with the extra sauce, broiled it for a few minutes, and dove right in.

Highly recommended recipe - this one gets filed under the "go-to dishes".

BBQ Ribs
Adapted from Should Be Illegal Oven BBQ Ribs Recipe #8701 - from Recipezaar.com

1¼ hours | 10 min prep | SERVES 4 -6 , 3 lbs Ribs
3 lbs pork back ribs
6oz honey (clover blossom, the type that comes in the bear bottle)
1.5 teaspoon paprika
1.5 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 medium onion, grated or minced
12 ounces barbecue sauce
1/8 cup white sugar
Kosher salt - to season ribs

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees:
1. Line large roasting pan with single sheet of aluminum foil for easy cleanup
2. Trim ribs in half for easier handling
3. Sprinkle and rub some salt into the ribs
4. Prepare marinade in order of ingredients shown - first honey, then stirring in the spices and bbq sauce. Pour 1/3 of marinade into roasting pan
5. Lay ribs meat-side down on pan, and pour rest of marinade over
6. Cover loosely with single sheet of aluminum foil
7. Roast in oven for 3 hours
8. When ribs are done, flip the ribs on the roasting pan so it's meat side up. Scoop up the thickened marinade in the roasting pan, brush over the ribs, and broil for 3-5 minutes till ribs are nicely caramelized

Note from Chu This - I made these ribs myself this past weekend. They turned out quite different than HL's ribs, we think due to different type of honey used. I'd suggest cutting back the amount of honey initially and adding more to taste. Thanks HL for the great post :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Moving (x2)

Everyone knows that moving sucks. Now, two things...

I moved domains. This blog is now at www.chuthis.com. It took about 30 seconds.

I'm moving. It's only about 2 miles away from my current place. The whole process when done will have taken months. And lots of stress. However, I DO get a gas stove in a pretty new kitchen PLUS a convection oven...

...as long as the moving doesn't kill me first. Too bad it's not as easy as moving domains.

The perfect way to say welcome

Any guesses as to what that might be? Here's a clue...

Yup, you guessed it (or not :P), it's a Doubletree Hotel cookie. The warm, gooey treat they provide when you check into the hotel or ever so politely ask the front desk. It makes the consistent travel and the not-so-nice front desk staff a little more bearable. You try to stay frustrated and thinking about what you are going to write in your letter to the corporate office while they hand you a warm chocolate chip cookie. I forgot I was even mad by the time I made it up to my room because I was too overcome with the giddiness of a five, make that three, year old. And then, I got twice as giddy because I had something happy food related to blog about. (Oh, and there is a recipe online for this cookie that I'll have to try when I'm actually home)

Actually, I've been eating pretty darn well while "traveling" for work. I quote traveling because I reserve the word traveling for personal travel. As in vacation. As in somewhere fun. This is more like "living somewhere else" but having to prepare as if you were traveling. I receive a per diem, but unlike per diem in the past (you get $XX for the day that you can either spend or pocket), we are required to send it receipts and it's use it or lose it. Since arriving in LA this week, I've managed to check off four food establishments that I crave. Oddly enough, it's all Asian food. Yummy things like BCD Tofu House, Red Mango, Din Tai Fung and Phoenix Food Boutique. (I like that they all have pretty decent websites.) Yes, I will drive far for food I crave. These standby restaurants beat the pants off a Doubletree cookie welcome any day.

I noticed something peculiar. I've been compiling a list of restaurants I want to make sure to eat at while here in LA. And in the past, people have come to me for LA restaurant recommendations. With both, I've noticed a lack of "good" restaurants - those restaurants that are probably well known amongst the foodies in the world, that get a good amount of press, and that are NOT cheap Asian food. Why is that? I realized last night it's because during all my time in LA previous to this consulting gig, I was a ramen-eating-free-food-scavenging college student. Sure, I appreciated good food, but I most certainly did not have the any steady income to allow me to dine about town. So now, per diem in hand, I shall conquer the LA food scene - please feel free to send suggestions! And now, the next time someone asks me for LA food recommendations, I'll have plenty!