Sunday, August 19, 2012

ribs, greens, and pimiento cheese mac & cheese

Another temptation of grilling for our household is BBQ pork ribs.  In fact, the first time I ever had pork spare ribs was at an unpretentious weekend dinner with my husband's family.  My husband and I were dating at the time.  His parents took one look at my "impress-the-future-in-laws" outfit and insisted I borrow a shirt-- an oversized men's flannel shirt-- to protect my clothes and ensure I had fun.  They were right:  the ribs were messy.  And they were delicious.  

There's a secret "family recipe" for the BBQ sauce, but there's a family curse, too.  Mr. C, Sr. has a terrible track record, inviting pouring rain everytime he makes ribs on the grill.  This weekend we decided to test fate, invite the in-laws over, and have a southern-style feast: bbq ribs, greens, and pimiento cheese mac and cheese.  We broke the curse and had a great time.  I guess not everything runs in the family!

Like father, like son
Classic BBQ Pork Ribs

Dry rub:
2T kosher salt (see note below)
1T dry mustard
1T paprika (regular or smoked)
1/2t cayenne pepper
1/2t black pepper

Note: We've become convinced that the grocery-store ribs wrapped in thick plastic are packaged in some sort of brine that makes the ribs salty.  If using the pre-packaged kind, omit most or all of the salt from the dry rub.  You won't need it.

I've been sworn to secrecy on the "family secret" sauce combo, but my advice is to use your favorite bottled sauce.  We combine a thick, sweet sauce with a tangy, vinegar-based sauce to get the covert combination.  


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Clean and pat dry the rib racks.  Rub generously with dry rub.  Wrap in foil and place on large baking sheets.  Bake for at least 2 hours until tender, but not falling apart.  Remove from the oven and let cool. 

Add the ribs to a grill heated to high for a few minutes, then turn the burners down to med-low.  Baste with sauce, turning occasionally and adding more sauce, until the ribs look lacquered and begin to brown.

Remove ribs from the grill and cut between the bones to serve.  Be sure to set aside a separate bowl of sauce serve alongside the ribs.

Braised greens are a classic accompaniment to southern-style pork, and the pimiento cheese mac & cheese is a zesty twist on a casserole favorite.  It's not as creamy as some versions (there's no milk or cream in the recipe), but this macaroni is very flavorful and very cheesy.  And the bright orange color is beautiful.  It's the perfect side to complement bold ribs and sharp greens.  Just be sure to grab a bib or an old flannel shirt before digging in to this plate. 

Recipes for pimiento cheese mac & cheese and braised greens follow. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

grilled pizza

It's grilling season!  After our last grill broke, we held out as long as we could (with dreams of an expansive deck and screened porch of course) before buying a new grill.  Two weeks ago, we caved.  Sure, we're out behind the cars on our driveway every evening, but it's summer and the Chipmans are grilling.  Happy.

Earlier this week, we grilled plenty of extra eggplant, zucchini, red onions, and red pepper to save as toppings for a homemade pizza.  With a few simple shortcut preparations, we were on our way to a grilled pizza in less than 30 minutes tonight.  That's what grilling is all about.

The details of our successful grilled pizza experiment follow.

lamb koftë

First things first, I have no idea how to pronounce koftë.  Let's go with cough-tea.  (If you know, of course, please tell me, or eventually I will look it up.)

I've wanted to try this recipe for a long time:  it's Turkish lamb meatballs in a flatbread wrap with two unique spiced sauces.  Sounds delicious, exotic, and messy.  So the recipe sat in my recipe box for more than two years before I attempted it.

It was much easier than I expected, and a really interesting combination of flavors.  It could be simplified immensely, too, so I've offered those suggestions below. 

The method for the meatballs will be familiar from our Italian-American favorites.  The Middle Eastern version is lamb, rather than pork and beef, and made interesting by loads of spices.  Wrapped up in flatbread, the spice is calmed by a yogurt-tahini sauce and a sweet muhammara (red pepper and pomegrante spread).  The result is unlike anything I've ever made and, more importantly, it's yummy.  Recipes and suggestions for a weeknight version follow.