July 15, 2012

summer barbecue

4th of July was rather atraditional for me this year. I came back from Mexico around midnight, worked during the day, then mustered up some energy to have dinner with family. We ended up having Korean BBQ, which, although somewhat fitting for the holiday, made me still crave barbecue.

So a week later, Cris and I put on a barbecue dinner. We started with ribs, which I have a little experience with. First we dry rubbed the racks with spices - smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, brown sugar. Then they're wrapped with aluminum foil and placed in the oven. First at 375F, so the oven can be used for other things, but then at 250F. Low heat means you can leave them there without worrying, but also because they get tender that way.

dry rubbed ribs

We had potatoes, so they got cut into wedges and coated in basically the same dry rub, except rosemary instead of oregano, and then there's the addition of olive oil. The wedges are laid on a sheet tray and baked until fork tender. (Next time I'll omit the sugar from the potato rub, since sweetness with potato is a little strange to me!)

While the wedges were baking I made some sour cream dip. Instead of regular sour cream I used Mexican crema, because I find it to be more savory than sour cream. Maybe there's some salt, lime, or non-pasteurization, or... higher fat content? In any case, I added minced shallot, garlic, parsley, basil, lemon, salt and pepper. You can substitute to your liking, since the ingredients I used happened to be the ones I was using for mac and cheese. The dip makes for a nice contrast to the spice-laden potato wedges.

potato wedges

Next up, cornbread! I used this recipe but it's nothing to write home about. I did substitute honey for sugar, crema for sour cream and bacon grease for butter. Oh and I added some jalapenos.

cornbread ingredients

Then I randomly got the idea to do a cornflake "streusel" on top. It was just cornflakes, honey, bits of bacon and bacon grease. Nice and crunchy addition to the cornbread.

cornflake "streusel"

Originally I wasn't going to do mac and cheese, because I didn't want too much starch, but I ran into this Luscious-but-Light Summertime Mac n' Cheese recipe and it sounded so intriguingly delicious that I just had to try. The cheeses I used were aged gouda, jalapeno havarti and honey goat cheese. And it turned out delicious, just as promised. My only regret was not having sliced almonds - I crushed whole smoked almonds instead and they weren't very crunchy.

herbs in mac & cheese

Lastly for some greens I did tomato salad, with the herbs and honey goat cheese leftover from the mac and cheese. Because we didn't have mustard for a vinaigrette, Cris made a warm hollandaise. But that sauce is really high maintenance, so next time I'd do another vinaigrette.

tomato salad

All of this prep and some down time later (three hours), the first rack of ribs came out, nice and tender. The second rack stayed in for another hour, after which the meat was literally fall-off-the-bone. I recommend Everett & Jones barbecue sauce (available at Luckys) because it's smoky, savory and sweet. Spicy too, if you want it.

roasted ribs

And there you have it, a summer barbecue dinner and no grill necessary!

my plate

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