Labor Day BBQ – Perfect Beer Pairings

Labor Day BBQ – Perfect Beer Pairings

Labor Day is next Monday — are you ready to say goodbye to Summer? WE ARE! There’s no better way to bid adieu to this nasty heat than with a nice, frosty brew. As you can see in the photo, Chef J inspired me to try a few new brews myself (I even found a few treats from nearby states!). Chef J has some pairing tips for your Labor Day fest featuring some AZ local brews. We’ve got some spectacular breweries around town and I bet you do, too. Even if you can’t get these exact ones, this is a great jumping off point to try something new in your locale!  Beer me, Chef J!

It’s time to get the crew together for one of the last excuses to fire up the BBQ this season. Labor Day is upon us once again! So mow the yard, skim the pool, and scrape down the ol’ grill. I usually go into some long-winded rant about how barbequing is a great way to waste the day away with friends and family, eat too much, and drink some delicious beer; since we have covered the ins and outs of grilling and smoking, it’s time to turn our attentions toward the sweet, sweet nectar that washes it all down. Though the suds market is still almost entirely controlled by cheap, bland, mass-produced swill, there are more and more craft breweries popping up all the time. Take a look around your town and chances are you’ll find a cold, refreshing gem or two.

So get your burgers pressed, your ribs rubbed, and your chickens ready to fly — but don’t forget about the main ingredient of the classic back yard party! Here are some of my local favorites for Labor Day. They aren’t all available everywhere, but wherever you are, there is probably a tasty brew not too far away.

Whatever you decide to grill up for Labor Day, there is a perfect beer to go along!

Four Peaks Peach Ale

Last time around I went on and on about my love for peaches. Unfortunately, more often than not, fruity beers come off as overly sweet and overpowering next to anything they are served with. Four Peaks Brewing Company has managed to capture the essence of a Labor Day perfectly ripe peach without it being too strong. This golden ale is incredibly refreshing and easy to drink. It goes great with a warm day and pairs nicely with lighter foods like fruits and cheeses, though it can be a cleansing addition to a plate of spicy ribs. [Pardon the interruption, but if you are anywhere near Arizona, get thee to a Four Peaks retailer immediately and try this ale. It is fantastic! -Candice]

San Tan Devil’s Ale

San Tan Brewery has a number of great beers, ranging from everyday staples to unique special occasion brews. This is my favorite of their offerings. Devil’s Ale has a golden red color with a rich citrus flavor. It has a strong body and a hoppy taste but doesn’t overwhelm; the flavors are delicately balanced. The gentle caramel makes it a good match for either grilled pork chops for a casual dinner or a big, fat cheeseburger on a hot afternoon.

Lumberyard Red Ale

Lumberyard Brewing Company has been supplying northern Arizona with a variety of their lovingly crafted beers for 20 years now, but their Special Bitter Red Ale is their most popular — and for good reason. It is incredibly balanced and gets along nicely with a wide variety of foods; from lightly buttered shrimp to spicy brisket to picant Gorgonzola. Using crystal and caramel malts along with a tempered serving of hops, Lumberyard has managed to create a full flavored beer that won’t get in the way on a hot day.

Nimbus Pale Ale

For those who like a strong PA (and there’s at least one at every party), Nimbus has crafted a Northwestern style pale ale that is almost out of control. While this beer is very clean and refreshing, it might not be the best introduction for novices looking at pale ales for the first time. The beer is hopped four times during the brewing process and five malts are packed into each batch, making this PA very intense. While the flavor packs a punch, the bitterness can stand up to fatty, spicy meats cooked over wood or charcoal. Not for the weak of palate, but definitely recommended for those looking for something bold.

Papago Coconut Joe

For years Papago Brewing Company has been a favorite watering hole of locals because of their huge selection of bottled and tap beers from their own stash and around the world. One of my favorites is their Coconut Joe stout. Even on the warmer days, this thick coconut and coffee beer hits the spot. Though it is very dark and tastes rich, it is an easily approachable stout for those who may not usually go for dark beers. The slightly sweet coconut and roasted coffee flavors can fit in with either grilled shrimp, barbequed beef, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a grown-up summer float!

What are your plans for Labor Day? Do you have a favorite brew to go with your favorite BBQ? Let us know in the comments!

Meatless Monday, Leftovers Tuesday: Pasta w/ Grilled Veggies

Meatless Monday, Leftovers Tuesday: Pasta w/ Grilled Veggies

Meatless Monday is a popular movement that my family has participated in for quite some time. We don’t eat a ton of meat to begin with, but carving out Mondays as being specifically meatless is a good reminder to examine the impact we have on our environment and the farming industry. When we first started being intentional with our Monday meals, we went gung-ho experimenting with new vegetarian recipes. With each passing week, we built up our repertoire of meatless recipes, which carried over into the rest of the week as we found more vegetarian dishes we liked. After a while, though, I got lazy and we ate a lot of spaghetti. Sometimes I mixed it up and used penne, but it got pretty sad in my kitchen.

A few months ago I decided to stop being such a loser in the kitchen and actually cook something. With vegetables. And effort. And, yeah, pasta. I was going for baby steps, okay! Because I am terrible at meal-planning and grocery shopping, I stared into my fridge and pantry for a while before settling on a small pile of ingredients that seemed like they’d like each other. Not only did they like each other, I liked them, too! A lot. I liked them even better cold the next day.

Allow me to introduce you to my new go-to Meatless Monday meal, which conveniently doubles as Tuesday’s lunch.

This easy pasta dish tastes great at all temperatures and can be customized to your liking. Try adding eggplant and roasted tomatoes or using feta instead of mozzarella. One of my favorite lunches, in fact, is to throw a handful of feta in with the cold dish and sprinkle with olive oil and lemon juice (or red wine vinegar); it makes a bright and refreshing summer lunch!

Honey Pasta with Grilled Veggies

Serves 2-3 as a main course; 4-6 as a side. Double the recipe for lunchtime leftovers.

  • ½ lb. pasta, cooked (I prefer rotini, but anything similar will do) Meatless Monday
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • Any other grillable veggies you like, thinly sliced
  • ½ yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of your favorite dried herbs (I just use Herbes de Provence)
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 TBS honey
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese (get the good kind), roughly chopped or torn

Coat all your sliced veggies in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Grill over medium-high heat for a couple minutes on each side until tender and sporting sexy grill marks (they’re like tan lines for vegetables). I usually use a grill pan rather than an outdoor grill, but you should go with whatever method you prefer. Set your grilled veggies aside and let them cool slightly while you get the onions going.

In a large, oiled sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook onions until they just start to brown. While the onions are cooking, give your grilled veggies a rough chop.

Meatless Monday

Can you smell this?!

Throw your basil in with the onions and sauté for a minute or two. Add the grilled veggies to the pan. Mix the lemon juice and honey together with a fork and pour into pan, followed by the cooked pasta.  Stir gently until everything is warmed through. Season to taste. I love this with a lot of salt, but go slowly — it is very easy to go from “just right” to “OH NO!”

Serve hot, room temperature, or cold. Sprinkle with mozzarella just before serving.

Store leftovers in single portion containers for a quick and easy lunch the next day. Meatless Monday

Printer friendly recipe: Meatless Monday Honey Pasta

No-Cook Meals – Chill Out With This Cool Summer Salad

No-Cook Meals – Chill Out With This Cool Summer Salad

 No-cook meals are the way to go when the temperature skyrockets and the humidity leaves you in a crying, sticky heap on the floor (that’s not just me, right?).  Chef J has you covered with this super summer salad. Customize it to your tastes and use as a side or the main course. Pick up a loaf of bread on your way home from work and call it a night. No-cook meals could very well save my sanity this summer, so thanks, Chef J!

This town is too hot! So instead of cooking, we’re just going to throw some stuff together, grab a beer (or glass of white wine with an ice cube…), and plop down on the couch. Turn down the AC and crank up the Netflix — we’re chilling out with a cold salad! The kids still say “chilling out,” right? Never mind; I don’t care what the kids are saying these days.

You can add some grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp to the mix if you would like. You can also throw in some avocado if you can find some good ones at the market. Or toss everything together and wrap it up in a tortilla so you can eat it in the car. This salad is great with whatever fruit you have growing on your tree or a handful of fresh berries; just don’t over-think it. Be cool!

No-cook meals are all about being cool.

Summer Salad

Makes two large or four small portions.

  • 4 big handfuls of salad greens No-Cook Meals Sumemr Salad
  • 1 cup of cubed watermelon, save the juice
  • ½ of a white nectarine, sliced
  • ½ of an English cucumber, sliced
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 2 TBS chopped basil

Vinaigrette:

  • 2 oz. watermelon juice
  • 2 TBS pink lemonade
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • a pinch of salt & white pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until emulsified.

Season to taste.

Arrange everything so that it looks pretty or just toss it together. Serve it with plenty of air conditioning and maybe a light, citrusy summer ale.

Printer friendly recipe: No-Cook Meals

Summer Produce – Ratatouille & Braised Peaches

Summer Produce – Ratatouille & Braised Peaches

It is definitely summer here in Phoenix — the sun is shining and our faces are melting! Somehow, Chef J has found a bright spot (pun intended) amid the suffering, and is willing to share it with us. Slather on the sunscreen and hit the farmer’s market this weekend so you can play along at home. Ok, Chef J, bring on the summer produce!

Summer is terrible here. Phoenix in the summer is a proving ground for the resilience and stubbornness of humanity. You know that feeling when you watch yourself lock your keys in the car? That paralyzed, defeated, “Why did I do that?” feeling? That’s how everyone feels here in the summer. We all knew it was coming. It happened last year and we all swore we wouldn’t put up with it again. But here we are. Here we are, basting in our miserable sweat, cursing our inability or refusal to escape. A couple of weeks ago I espoused some of the positive side effects of the sweltering torridity; I still love BBQ, pool parties, and flip flops — but there is more to it than that. There are some wonderful things about this place that keep me around throughout the season! Since a blog about pretty girls in sun dresses probably wouldn’t work for this venue, I will stick to something we can all enjoy: Summer Produce!

Phoenix is fertile ground for the growing trend of farm-fresh produce. We live in a great region for summer produce such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, herbs, and many other delicious plants; but when the weather starts to get unbearably hot, I know peaches are on the way. Luckily, we don’t have the humidity of Savannah, but we can grow a mean peach in these parts! I have a three year old peach tree in my back yard that I know will one day produce some succulent fruit — it has kept me from moving on more than one occasion…

So in honor of summer, and to make up for all of the barbequed meat I have been eating lately, I will be enjoying two of my favorite summer vegetarian dishes this weekend.

If you are not fortunate enough to be in Phoenix for the summer, I’m sure there are some fantastic ingredients available at your local market. Talk to the farmers, pick some summer produce that looks good, try something you haven’t had before, and enjoy the delicious treats growing all around you!

Ratatouille

  • 1 yellow onion, sliced Summer ratatouille
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise and sliced*
  • 2-3 small tomatoes
  • 3-4 summer squashes, cut lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and sliced*
  • Fresh herbs, chopped
  • red wine
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Heat oven to 350.
*Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and set aside for 20-30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant thoroughly.
*Roast the peppers over an open flame until they are completely charred. Place them in a bowl and cover so they can steam. When they have cooled you can easily wipe off they skin with a paper towel- do not rinse them, though.
Sauté the onion until brown, deglaze with red wine and remove from heat.
Combine all of the vegetables and toss with olive oil, herbs, salt & pepper.
Put them in a large baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 1 hour.
You can also do this recipe on the grill — no need to heat up the kitchen if you’re cooking out back.

Braised Peaches with Goat Cheese and Granola

  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 oz. honey

Combine all ingredients and bake at 225 for about 2 hours.

  • 1 bottle of Chardonnay (give or take a glass…)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 oz. honey or maple syrup
  • 6 peaches, halved (save the pits!)

Combine wine, vanilla, honey and pits. Bring to a simmer and reduce until syrupy.
In a sauté pan, pour hot liquid over the peaches and braise until just tender. Summer Peaches

  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • 6 oz. plain yogurt
  • 2-3 TBS honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Whisk all ingredients together.
Top each peach half with a dollop of cheese mixture and sprinkle with granola.

 

Printer friendly recipes: Using Summer Produce

BBQ Tips for Memorial Day

BBQ Tips for Memorial Day

BBQ season is officially here! Kick off summer this Memorial Day weekend with some awesome BBQ to share with family and friends. Master griller Chef J is back to share some important BBQ tips to make sure your weekend is as delicious as possible! Take it away, Chef J.

In my town, summer can fill people with dread. Temperatures will soon be in the mid-200s, leading to cranky, sweaty, dehydrated Phoenicians. On the other hand — there is a pool party every weekend, you can wear flip-flops anywhere, and BBQ. Sweet, smoky BBQ! This time of year is great for both those who have been eating salad all spring in anticipation of wearing a bathing suit, and those who just want an excuse to drink beer and eat meat.

We have already covered ribs and brisket in previous blogs. There are plenty of recipes floating around the internet and many more that have yet to be created, but let’s start with the basics.

Here are a few tips that can help novices confidently host their own backyard BBQ, and maybe even give the most hickory-seasoned pro an idea or two.

Meat

The best advice for any cook, especially a budding backyard gourmand, is “don’t mess it up!” That might sound a little too simplistic, but the truth is that most ingredients are pretty good on their own. The best thing you can do to a quality piece of meat is sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it and not burn it. Fancy spice rubs and secret family recipes are fantastic, but the star is the meat. If you have a good butcher shop in your town (and you probably do) talk to the experts about what they have. Fortunately there is a growing trend toward local, natural ingredients — this is good if you like to tell your friends about how socially-conscious you are, but it’s even better if you enjoy eating really delicious food. You might be surprised by what you find in a real butcher shop. At my local shop I can get locally raised, all natural meat for the same price or less than the junk available at the supermarket.

Fire

There is really no debate BBQ between gas or charcoal. Gas is efficient, cleaner burning, and faster. But charcoal is at least a million times better. If you want a clean, efficient, fast hamburger then you probably should eat a turkey sandwich. Smoke tastes good! Take the time to start a real fire. Hopefully you have access to a BBQ supply store that can help you pick out a charcoal or wood that add some authentic flavor to your food, otherwise there’s always the internet. Again, just like with all other ingredients, go for a more natural option. It’s not that hard to start a fire; you don’t have to buy briquets that are pre-soaked with lighter fluid. Take an old #10 can (like a giant coffee can), cut the top and bottom off with a can opener, place it on your grill, wad up an old grocery bag or some paper, put it in and light it on fire. Pile your charcoal or wood on top of that and in about 10-15 minutes you’ll have white-hot coals. There are a number of gadgets and products available to help you start your fire but try to avoid lighter fluid — it leaves behind a bad taste. If you are going to be BBQing something for a long time, like ribs or brisket, go with a milder wood like apple or pecan. If you want to add some smokey flavor to something that will only be cooking for a little while, like steak or burgers, try something bolder like mesquite or hickory.

Tools

Other than meat, fire, and something to contain it all, you will need a few other gadgets. Two good thermometers are important, especially if you are cooking things that require a slower and lower method — you want one to test the temp of the grill and one to test the meat. You will also want a pair of long-handled tongs; that giant fork that comes with all BBQ sets is not recommended since it will puncture the meat and cause it to lose juices. Get a heavy duty grill brush to keep things clean. Oh, and that coffee can method I told you about; there are fire starter cans that come with handles that are pretty handy to have around.

Patience

Grilling can be done relatively quickly, but real BBQ takes time. Beer and company help pass the time. If you are making ribs then be prepared for your day being spent at or around the pit. But patience is also required for even the smallest cut of meat. Letting your steak or burger rest for a few minutes after cooking and before eating or cutting will allow the meat to reabsorb the juices that are flowing around inside of it. If you cut a steak open right off of the grill it will lose all of it’s moisture — leaving you with a tough, dry dinner. Let your steaks rest for at least 5 minutes and let your brisket hang out for 20-30 before carving; keep them in a warm place, but not so hot that they over-cook.

The best part of any BBQ is the whole gang getting together, so don’t stress too much. Wanting to get everything right is one thing, but remember that a backyard cookout is about having fun with the people you care about! Ask mom to make her famous potato salad, put the beer on ice, skim the pool, and have a wonderful Memorial Day!

St. Patrick’s Day with a Southwestern Twist

St. Patrick’s Day with a Southwestern Twist

For St. Patrick’s Day last year, we covered the most delicious cupcakes in the history of chocolate. We’re going to go the savory route this year with brisket and pickled cabbage. Chef J is not known for being the most traditional lad around, so of course he is giving this meal a bit of a twist! Whether you see green in the form of shamrocks or cacti, Chef J’s Southwestern Brisket is sure to make you feel lucky. A jar of pickled cabbage is a good substitute for a pot of gold, right? Take it away, Chef J!

It’s almost that time of year again! That time when green starts making it’s way into fashion and people dig deep to claim some far removed Irish heritage. Ah, St. Patrick’s Day! Is it safe to assume we will all be celebrating this holiday by spending the day in church? Perhaps one might take advantage of the rare opportunity to enjoy a small glass of wine or break lent and have a bit of salted pork. Let’s face it: most of us here in the states really don’t know anything about St. Patrick’s Day. It has been given an entirely different definition than was intended, but that’s ok. It’s now an excuse to party. Is that such a bad thing? I argue that no, it is not. We all love a good reason to get together with friends and family to enjoy some food and drink. Let’s tape some cardboard shamrocks around the office, tint our cupcake frosting green, and do our best leprechaun impressions- it’s time to party!

The first St. Patrick’s treat I think about, after Jameson and Guinness (so, the third thing…), is corned beef and cabbage. Is it Irish? No (the demand for and production of corned beef was actually in part responsible for much of the devastation of the Irish famine). But is it delicious? You bet your Blarney Stone! You will find the internet littered with recipes for corned beef this time of year; it’s essentially a brisket that has been cured in brine for about 10 days, then boiled. You can also pick one up at the super market that is ready to go. Although I do occasionally get the craving for saltpeter, I usually prefer to enjoy my brisket in a more southwestern style.

Here is a St. Patrick’s Day recipe for delicious, tender brisket that you don’t need a week and a half to prepare.

Southwestern Brisket:

  • 3-4 lb. brisket
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 TBS ground black pepper
  • 1 TBS ground mustard
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Heat your oven or BBQ to 175.
Combine all spices and mix well.
Evenly coat the brisket with the spice rub.
Wrap the brisket tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. Then aluminum foil. Place it in a deep roasting pan to catch any juices that might escape.
Roast the wrapped beef for 6 hours.
Remove it from the heat and let it sit, while still wrapped up, for at least 30 minutes.
Get your oven or BBQ up to 375.
Unwrap the brisket carefully. Save the juices!
Place the brisket back in the roasting pan and pour the liquid over it.
Roast at 375 for 20 minutes, flipping it over every 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it sit in a warm place for another 15 minutes before slicing.
A little spicy mustard or prepared horseradish will put this over the top!

Quick Pickled Cabbage:

  •  ½ head of cabbage (green or purple), thinly sliced and washed
  • 2 qts. water
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 TBS whole coriander
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2-3 whole cloves

For this recipe you will need a very clean, heat proof container that can be sealed, leaving little to no room for air. I have found that the big pickle jar (the one on the bottom shelf at the super market) is the perfect size.

Combine all of the ingredients except for the cabbage and vinegar in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until the salt has dissolved.
Pack half of the cabbage into the jar and pour the liquid over until it is just covered. Do your best to get about half of the spices in.
Pack the remaining cabbage in and pour the rest of the liquid over. If there is still a little room on top you can press more cabbage in or add more simmering water. You want it to come just about to the rim.
Cover the top of the jar with a few layers of plastic wrap and then screw the lid on tightly. The plastic will help to form an airtight seal.
Let the jar sit at room temperature until it has cooled. It can sit out over night.
Refrigerate after opening.

Printer friendly recipes: SW Brisket with Pickled Cabbage

Cedar-planked Salmon – A simply delicious recipe!

Cedar-planked Salmon – A simply delicious recipe!

Today is “International Talk Like A Pirate Day”.  I guess I never knew there was such a day, but as I was browsing the internet I discovered it.  I’m not certain what this has to do with the  ButcherBlockCo Blog, but it did get me thinking about pirate lingo and “walking the plank”.  And then my thoughts led me to cedar-planked salmon!  Salmon is my favorite fish, and grilled cedar-planked salmon is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.  So this week’s blog is loosely dedicated to “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and is a simple, delicious recipe for grilled cedar-planked salmon.

A meal of cedar-planked salmon is high value, meaning little effort produces great results!

The cost is relatively inexpensive, the ingredients are readily available, the prep work is simple, and the taste is fabulous!  Basically you soak the planks, season the salmon, and grill.  That’s about it. We just made this last night and we served it with sautéed asparagus and a quinoa/brown rice blend.
Arrr!
Ingredients: cedar-planked-salmon-prep
  • Salmon fillets, skin on one side
  • Sea Salt
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Crushed Peppercorns
  • Dill seasoning
  • Fresh Tarragon leaves
  • Cedar planks
Avast, ye Mateys!
Directions
  1. Soak cedar planks in a shallow dish, completely submerged for 2 hours.  You can soak in water, or I have heard wine or cider works too.
  2. Place salmon fillet, skin side down on plank
  3. Sprinkle seasonings on top side of salmon
  4. Place plank on 350 degree preheated grill.  Cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes for doneness.  My family prefers salmon well cooked and more firm, so we go the full 20 minutes
  5. Spray water on any flare ups
  6. Remove from grill.  Salmon will separate from the skin nicely with a spatula. Garnish with fresh Tarragon.
cedar-planked-salmon-grilled Grilled Cedar-planked salmon.  Arrr!
Printer friendly recipe: Cedar-planked Salmon Recipe
Labor Day Recipe-Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

Labor Day Recipe-Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

Here comes another holiday! That means another day off work (you need it!), another chance to spend some time with family and friends, and of course, another excuse to barbecue! We’ve gone over brisket; now let’s make a summer BBQ staple: RIBS!   While pork ribs are a bit messier than beef ribs, they are much more popular because they really are tastier .  Plus, it is likely your BBQ party will have other kinds of beef being prepared anyway. So we’ll be dealing with pork ribs today. When shopping for pork ribs keep in mind that there are two different kinds: Back Ribs (Baby Back Ribs if they came from a younger hog) and Spare Ribs.

Most folks agree, pork ribs are tastier than beef ribs!

Back Ribs, sometimes called Loin Ribs, are from the top of the hog between the spine and spare ribs. They are generally meatier than the spare ribs, but have a bit less fat. These are the more popular of the two.

Spare Ribs are found on the belly side of the hog. They are fattier and have more bone than actual meat. They are delicious, and often more tender because of the higher level of fat. St. Louis or Kansas City style pork ribs are spare ribs that have had part of the bone removed and have been trimmed.

Either kind will work for these instructions. It’s also a good idea to talk to your butcher; if they’re worth a darn they will love to help you choose the right cut and answer all of your questions. We’re going to cheat a bit, by using both the oven and the grill. Some BBQ nuts might cry foul but I think it’s better to take the easy option if it means you get to enjoy some nice homemade food rather than ordering out or wasting your time on something that has been pre-sauced and pre-cooked. If you have a spice rub that you love, by all means, use it!  I like to keep things relatively simple:

Spice Rub:

  • 1 TBS ground mustard powder pork rib spice rub
  • 1 TBS kosher or sea salt
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground chile (optional)

Scale this recipe up if you need to. I usually make a pretty big batch- it’s nice to have a jar lying around for when the mood strikes.

PREP
Sometimes there will be a tough, white membrane on the concave side of the pork ribs. You can ask your butcher to remove that or do it yourself. Simply pull the membrane up from the smaller end of the ribs, using a paper towel to get a better grip. With a strong pull toward the larger end, you should be able to easily peel it off. pork rib prep

Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. You don’t need a lot. You can do this a day or so in advance and the flavor will be stronger. Wrap the racks tightly in heavy duty plastic wrap, then wrap again in foil.

COOK
Arrange the pork ribs (still wrapped) on a sheet pan and place in a 250 degree oven. Cook for 4 hours.
Before they have finished, get your grill, smoker, or any other BBQ contraption you have access to fired up.  Pre-heat to 325 for this round. You can use charcoal or wood.
When the ribs are done in the oven, CAREFULLY remove them from the wrap. Pour all of the delicious juices into a bowl and set aside.

GRILL

pork ribs grill 300 Back to the grill….We want to use indirect heat for this, so move the coals to one side and place the ribs on the other, meat-side up. Cover the grill and let the pork ribs smoke for a bit.

Sauce:
Get back to the kitchen! Mix together the following ingredients to make your basting sauce:

  • All of those juices
  • ¼ part ketchup
  • ¼ part honey or maple syrup

Use this sauce to baste the ribs every 30 minutes or so for about 2 hours, this will give them a nice sweet, sticky glaze. The longer you cook them the more tender they will be, so you can hang out in the back yard all day if you really want.

If you want to get the mess out of the way before the guests arrive just switch the cooking methods: start with the fire and smoke at 325, then wrap and throw the little piggies in the oven at 250. And make sure you have plenty of napkins!

When your ribs are done, remove to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Separate into manageable servings by slicing between the bones, every two-three ribs.
Chef J

chef j

Printer friendly recipe: Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

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Grilled Scallops with Ginger Citrus Salsa Recipe

Grilled Scallops with Ginger Citrus Salsa Recipe

Our own Chef J shares with us his favorite Grilled Scallop recipe for summer!

Good, fresh seafood in Arizona isn’t always easy to come by. But once summer comes around, our back yard get-togethers seem empty without some shrimp skewers or fish tacos. Luckily we have a few frozen options and some rare, fresh finds. Grilled scallops are one of my favorite things to bring to the summer table; scallops can be found frozen or canned, and both can be quite good. Light, but rich and buttery, grilled scallops can be a delightful addition to fajitas, tacos, on their own, or as the surf to your favorite turf. There is always room for these delicious mollusks; even those folks who say “I don’t like fish” will like them. Who invites those people, anyway? Grilled scallops with Ginger Citrus Salsa is one of my favorite dishes to prepare. It is simple and easy, but oh so tasty! Play around with this recipe, use whatever citrus you have growing in your (or your neighbor’s) yard.

Ginger Citrus Grilled Scallops Recipe

2 pounds of large scallops

Ginger Citrus Salsa:

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 TBS chopped, fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup finely diced cucumber
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients (except scallops) and mix well. Let this sit for a while- it’s better the next day.
Bring your grill up to medium-high, around 600 degrees or so. Make sure that the grill is clean, and once hot, give it a rub down with vegetable oil.
Season your scallops with salt & pepper, and arrange flat side down on the grill. Give them about 2 minutes and flip. Grill about another 90 seconds or so and remove from heat.

Top your Grilled Scallops with the Ginger Citrus Salsa and enjoy!

Other recipes from Chef J: BBQ Beef Brisket and Hibiscus Margaritas 

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Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day BBQ

This week we have another guest post from Chef J!  I can tell you from many personal experiences that Chef J is a master at the grill! Here are simple steps for preparing a delicious smoked brisket, just in time for your Memorial Day BBQ!

It’s almost Memorial Day! Hopefully that means an extra long weekend by the pool, surrounded by family and friends. And if that is the case, you will need to do some outdoor cooking! A Memorial Day BBQ is the only reason I stick around through these sweltering Sonoran summers. Phoenix in May and June will leave even the toughest crying for lemonade and air conditioning, but if you plan it right, the smell of slowly roasting meats and a nice cool pool can make this the best place in the world.

One of my favorite things to BBQ is beef brisket; it’s rather inexpensive and most importantly, it’s straightforward to prepare. If you are lucky enough to have a fancy BBQ setup like I do then this will justify  your dedication. My blood type is Spicy Hickory, so I love an excuse to spend an afternoon tending coals! But even if you don’t have the fancy pit you can still create some mouthwateringly tender, delicious treats!

For a perfect Memorial Day BBQ brisket, the right temperature and time are most important!

The recipe for brisket is 225 degrees for 10 hours.  That’s it!

Spices, sauces, and smoke are all up to your own taste. If you have ever heard BBQ people talk ,they will  tell you their BBQ is the best. And they are right. It’s all about you. I like to start mine smothered in a spicy rub, uncovered in the smoker, with a pan underneath to catch the drippings. memorial-day-bbq-brisket

My favorite rub:
¼ cup ground coffee
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 TBS chipotle powder
2 TBS salt
1 TBS black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground coriander

Mix everything together and rub that brisket down!  Make sure that your fire is hot enough to keep the temperature around 225 degrees, and that there is a bit of smoke sneaking out.  The meat will only absorb smoke for the first few hours, so after that you are strictly cooking (you could actually move it to the oven at this point).

After the smoking, I mop it down with liquid about once an hour- this could be your favorite BBQ sauce, vinegar, wine, juice, beer, etc. This will help keep the meat moist but also help build a nice “bark” on the surface. After the ten hours, place the brisket in the pan that will now be full of delicious dripping and cover in foil. Let that sit for a few minutes before carving, and it will be tender, juicy and delicious. If that sounds like a lot of work, you can smoke the brisket in your backyard grill (that black, three-legged dome we all know and love) the day before for a few hours, wrap it in foil and put it in the fridge. The next day unwrap, baste in liquid, put it in a pan and cover it, roast in the oven at 225-250 for about 6 hours. If you throw it in first thing in the morning it will be ready for lunch, and you won’t have to think about it until your timer goes off.

So crack open a cold one, skim the pool, and get your Memorial Day BBQ started!