When I first started to teach cooking classes a year and a half ago at Sweet Basil Culinary Center, I was introduced to a new cooking vessel that would change everything for me. It’s called a stove-top smoker and it works perfectly on the cook top, on the BBQ or in the oven. It’s fantastic for fish, vegetables and chicken, but it really shines when you throw a rack of ribs in, close it up, and 90 minutes later you have a succulent stack of ribs mopped with your favorite BBQ sauce! This recipe for Chili Rubbed Baby Backs with Espresso BBQ Sauce is one of my new favorites, given to me by a co-worker who knows I’m a rib fanatic. Even if you don’t have a stove-top smoker, these ribs and sauce will be a hit no matter how you prepare them! The dark beer (it really should be a Guinness!) and espresso powder combine to give the ribs a deep and rich flavor that melt together to create the umami you want in a rack of ribs! The recipe calls for a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce or if you have a homemade version, use that! (A few years ago we did a taste test of the country’s most popular store-bought BBQ sauces. Topping the list of brands were Stubbs, Rufus Teague, Sweet Baby Ray’s and Bone Suckin’ Sauce.)
It was on this day, decades ago, that my Momma and I celebrated my birthday in Madrid, Spain.
She took me on a magnificent trip to six European countries on our way to her hometown of Treviso, Italy. It was in Madrid where we both fell in love….with Paella. The place was Restaurante Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world, according the Guinness Book of World Records, and to this day, one of the most charming establishments I’ve ever visited. We bought our Paella pan there and have loved making this authentic Spanish dish ever since. If you’re in the mood to party, a Paella Party (with plenty of Sangria to wash it down!) can be a very tasteful get-together!
I have no idea if it’s Kansas City, Carolina, Texas, Memphis or St. Louis style. All I know is that this dry rub is magic dust on a rib. Just in time for your summer menus, this Dry Rubbed BBQ Ribs recipe is the perfect seasoning for a meaty slab of pork or beef ribs, finished off with just a light brushing of barbecue sauce. So let’s tackle cooking first. Slow and low. It’s the only way to keep those juices moistening the meat. For the rub, don’t overpower. Generally, whatever sticks to the slab should give you just the right amount of flavor. And because BBQ sauce is loaded with sugar or honey which can burn, save it for the last 10-15 minutes, and then just lightly coat it on the slab at the end of the cooking process. You want the flavor of the rub to come through. Now for the rub. It’s an incredibly simple formula I found in an old paperback cookbook called Tasty Vittles. This rub is the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, hot and salty. You can add a slightly citrusy kick if you’re using something like a chili lime sea salt, or burn it up big time with various chili powders. I’ve been on a quest for a good basic rub that I can make ahead, keep it in a jar in the pantry, and shake out onto a slab whenever I’m craving ribs, and this is it! Start with the basic rub and then add your own special touches using some of your favorite herbs and spices, a little at a time, until you make it your own. Rub some ribs and reap the rewards this summer!
I’ve always known that the secret to a great fried chicken is buttermilk. Some people even say buttermilk is the miracle ingredient that makes fried chicken crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. If you understand the properties of buttermilk, you’ll know why. There are the enzymes in buttermilk that break down the proteins, naturally tenderizing the chicken. Then, if the chicken is soaked in buttermilk and then dredged in flour, the buttermilk really helps coat the chicken. Now that you know the secret, it’s time to work it into a great recipe like this Crispy Chicken Burger! Fully loaded with bacon, coleslaw and a delicious combo of honey and sriracha, the beef pattie needs to just mooooooove aside for this finger lickin’ chicken sandwich!