Monday, February 5, 2018

Boeuf (Beef) Bourguignon, Made Easy (well; "Easier")!

Everyone talks about Beef Bourguignon like it's the "Holy Grail" of recipes.  Most folks take a glance at the recipe and declare it to be, "Not worth the trouble for a simple beef stew" but I assure you... it's well worth the trouble, and then some!  Beef Stew is similar to Beef Bourguignon the same way that the banquet room at your local American Legion Hall is "similar to" the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria.

Note the Subtle Difference Between the Banquet Halls
To make the best "beef stew" that you, or anyone you've ever served have ever tasted, you'll need to crack your knuckles and jump into a deeply flavored, diversely textured, decadently seasoned Beef Bourguignon!

You will need:
  • 1 "Strong Blurp" of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2lb of thickly sliced bacon, chopped into smaller chunks or bits
  • 3lbs of Chuck Roast, cut into 1" cubes
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1+ pound of FRESH carrots (not the "carrot nibblers" that you put in your kid's lunch pack), washed, peeled, and thickly cut on a bias
  • 2 Small Red Onions, diced
  • 4 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, mashed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Quality Bourbon
  • 1 Entire Bottle of excellent Pinot Noir
  • 1 or 2 cups of Beef Stock (or Consume')
  • 1/2 Small Can of Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 Stick of Butter
  • 3 Tbsp of Bread Flour
  • 1.5lbs of whole Pearl Onions (blanched and peeled)
  • 1lb of your favorite woodland mushrooms, thickly sliced
Before we get started, click the bowl of Beef Bourguignon shown here (from my kitchen) and look at the full sized image.  This dish is all about balance.  Trust me when I tell you that there is just the right amount of everything in this dish.  If  you start substituting, things can/will go downhill in a hurry and I think that's where people go wrong.  If you don't have a good Pinot, don't just toss in a bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel or (gag) a Rose'!  If you don't have the time to blanch and peel a bunch of pearl onions, then wait until you do.  I promise, you'll keep the first bite of this concoction in your mouth for a long time as your brain explodes trying to savor all of the different flavors here, and they work together like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, so... to begin:

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees (yes, TWO hundred fifty).

For this recipe, it will be well worth your time to chop/dice/prep everything ahead of time and to keep it organized. In other words, put your best Mise en Place skills to work here!

Get your big Dutch Oven out and put it on the stove.  Make sure the vessel you're using is NOT a "non-stick" pot!  A cast iron dutch oven is best, but enameled iron works too.  More on this later... Crank the heat to Medium High and pour in a couple of Tbsp of good Olive Oil.  Enough to just cover the bottom... now add your bacon and cook/stir it for about 20-30 minutes to render some bacon fat.  MMmmmmm, bacon fat!  Now, carefully take out the bacon, leaving as much fat in the pan that you can.  Keep the bacon safe in a separate bowl (you honestly didn't think I'd have you toss it out, did you?).

Open the Pinot Noir, to let it breath, and pour yourself a small glass.  Savor this glass because the entire contents of the rest of the bottle will ultimately go into the dish (more on this, later).

Season your Beef Chuck cubes, and add just enough of them to cover the bottom of your hot dutch oven.  Roll them around in the bacon fat until they're brown on all sides, then carefully remove them to the same safe-house where you stashed your bacon.  Repeat this until all of the beef is browned on the outside.

By now, there should be some smoky bits of bacon and beef stuck to the bottom of the pot; no problem!  NOTE, This is why a non-stick pot won't work for this dish.  You NEED stuff to stick to the pot!  Dump in your carrots and red onions and stir them together to cook and to add flavor to the fond ("Fond" means "bottom" in French, and refers to the sticky bits at the bottom of the pan).  Let them cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or so.  Add the garlic and stir it in toward the end so it doesn't burn.

Now; take hold of your Bourbon Whiskey.  Take a sip of the Whiskey, to fortify yourself for two things:
  1. You're about to make fire.
  2. You're about to pour an entire bottle of Pinot Noir into what is essentially a "Beef Stew" and you don't want to be caught crying about it!
Pour the Bourbon into the pot and stir.  Be careful,  because the alcoholic vapor may catch fire!  No big deal, just douse the flames with the lid from your Dutch Oven.  Do not skip the alcohol because there are gobs of "alcohol soluble" flavors here (particularly in the onions) and you'll lose a lot of flavor depth if you do.  Stir the Bourbon around to de-glaze the pot, and let it bubble for awhile until the alcohol has done it's work and has mostly evaporated from the pot.

Dump all of the beef and bacon back into the pot and give it a good stir.  Gird your loins and pour the entire remaining contents of your Pinot Noir into the pot.  Do it.  Don't argue, don't whine, and don't make excuses, just do it.  Julia Child would be proud!  Take your beef stock and pour in just enough to barely almost cover the tip-tops of the beef cubes.  Stir in the tomato paste and bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Once you have it simmering, put the lid on and place the entire Dutch Oven into your bigger oven for at least 2.5 to 3 hours.  Great things will happen in there.

When you have about 20 minutes to go, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in a saucepan and slowly saute the mushrooms over Medium to Medium High heat.  Let them cook down for 20 minutes or so.  With 5 minutes remaining, melt the last two Tbsp of butter in a separate pan or microwave safe bowl, and stir it together with the flour.  Heat and stir them together until they're fully combined into a roux.  A roux like this is, hands down, the best way to thicken a dish or gravy!

Pull the Bourgy out of the oven and remove the lid.  It will be hot and it will still be simmering!  Stir in your roux, then stir in the mushrooms.  Add your Pearl Onions (you thought I forgot about those, didn't you)!  Bring the entire stew to a boil (again), then reduce to simmer for another 30 minutes or so, and stir it occasionally.

Serve it up in a nice ceramic bowl with a hunk of sourdough bread and a glass of good red table wine.  Personally, I like to go off by myself somewhere to eat this, in front of the fireplace with my fuzzy slippers on, the lights low, and some Mozart playing subtly in the background.  Every bite of this dish is one to be savored, and when you try it, you'll know why you spent 5 hours dealing with it earlier in the day!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Chocolate Macadamia Pie

Pie.  When it comes to desserts, cake, ice cream, pie, etc, I'm a pie-man!  I also believe that, while the big box stores offer pie, there's nothing like filling your house with the aroma of a home-baked designer pie!  Recently, my wife and I were traveling to Hawaii for a vacation and I took the time to assemble the filling for a pie, and I poured it all into a vacuum-sealed bag and put in into my suitcase so I could surprise the guests in our condo with a homemade gem of a pie, "Bourbon Chocolate Macadamia Pie!"
Bourbon Chocolate Macadamia Pie!

A quick word about pie crust; While I believe that a properly homemade pie crust is superior in flakiness, tenderness, and appearance, I do not believe that it is superior enough to go through the tedious process of creating one from scratch.  In my own personal blind taste tests, I pick the homemade crust every time, but I'm simply not prepared to invest the time and effort to "cube cold butter" and to "rest the dough in the refrigerator," etc.  This recipe calls for "Frozen 9-inch deep dish pie crusts" and I believe the filling is so fantastic, that nobody (except for perhaps your Grandmother) will mention your lack of pie crust effort.

For the Chocolate Macadamia Pie, you will need:
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 Cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 Cup bourbon (Yes.  You "need" it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 Cups Crushed Macadamia Nuts
  • 3/4 Cup Milk Chocolate chips 
  • One 9-inch DEEP DISH pie crust, thawed and ready to receive
Bread flour has a lot more protein strings than regular flour, these help the pie set up firmly.  So use it if you can...  In any case, you'll want to pay particularly close attention to the quantity of the ingredients here, do not use more or less than what is described, and be sure to bake it the full amount of time.
Spray some "Pam" inside of your measuring cup, so the syrup will pour out quickly and easily.  Dump your eggs (and yolks) into the bowl, turn on your mixer and get the party started... When the eggs are thoroughly mixed and bright yellow, measure exactly 1/2 cup of dark syrup and 1/2 cup of light syrup into your mixing bowl. While the mixer is turning and burning, add the bourbon, and then add the dark brown sugar, a little bit at a time.  Go slowly, you want it all to dissolve.  Drink a shot of the Bourbon in the meantime, you know, for... "fortification and courage."  Sprinkle in the flour.  Pour in the butter and a pinch of salt.  Let the mixer work for a full minute or two to make sure everything really comes together!  Turn off the mixer and use a silicon spatula to mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips.

If you look carefully, you'll see that the mix is a lighter, caramelly color.  That's because you've mixed and whipped a zillion tiny air bubbles into it.  Cover the goop with plastic and park it in the fridge to give this air a chance to escape (overnight is best).  This will keep the pie from cracking.

Preheat your oven to 350, and take the frozen pie crust out of the freezer to thaw.  When the oven is hot and your crust is ready, pour the mix into the pie crust.  Place the pie onto a cookie sheet in case it boils over, and then pop it into the oven for 55 minutes to an hour.  Keep an eye on the edges of the crust, and when they turn a nice golden brown, it's time to pull the pie!

Remove the pie and let it set up for another hour or so, before parking it in the fridge. Let it sit in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, this will make it much easier to slice.  I find that light pressure with a serrated knife, sawing back and forth works much better than the "Plunge and pull" method of slicing.  If you're slow and careful, this pie will slice like a dream!

Notice that the Macadamia Nuts floated to the top of the pie while it was in the oven.  This was awesome because they all seemed to lock together in a caramelized matrix, leaving a Bourbon/Chocolaty goo on the bottom.  My buddy Mark insisted that we top this pie with a scoop of Macadamia/Coconut Ice Cream.  Mark is wise.....


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Cake

This cake is all about two things:
  1. Fun!
  2. Butter!!

I'm not going to lie, this cake is NOT good for you!  It has a full 8oz cup of Bailey's Irish Creme, nearly four sticks of butter, heavy cream, and other pantry naughties.  It is awfully delicious though, and the texture is out of this world!  Picture a bite of something with a texture that falls somewhere between "undercooked brownie" and "fluffy cake."  But creamier.... and with more depth to the chocolate!

Let's Get Started!

For the cake
  • Cooking spray, for the pan
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (your favorite), plus the ingredients called for on the box
For the "goop"
  • 1 14-oz. can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (who doesn't love this stuff?)
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder (do NOT skimp on the cocoa powder!)
  • 1/4 c. + 2oz Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur
For the frosting
  • 2 Sticks of Butter, softened (NOT melted.  Let it sit on your counter for awhile)
  • 5 Cups of powdered sugar (Yes... five (5) Cups)
  • 1/2 Cup Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 1/4 Cup Ghirardelli cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (Genuine Vanilla Extract, don't use Imitation.  Ever.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Three handfuls of mini-chocolate chips to garnish
Step 1 - The Cake
Step 1 is easy.  Simply bake a boxed chocolate cake, according to the directions on the box.  The only thing to worry about here is the pan.  You'll need a 13x9 pan, suitable for presentation (unless you plan to park your fanny on the couch in front of a 12 hour Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon with this cake, a fork, and some Irish Coffee and if that's the case, who am I to judge?).  Cupcakes or layered cake will not work for this recipe.

Step 2 - The Goop
While the cake is in the oven (set a timer, the cake is kind of important), you can assemble the goop!  Pour all four ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Pour the 2oz of Bailey's Irish Creme into an empty coffee mug. Take turns sipping from the coffee mug while whisking the ever-loving-crap out of the goop!   Whisk, fast and hard and crazy, until your arm gets tired, then have another sip from the mug.  Repeat until the mug is empty and the goop is completely mixed together.

Scrape every single drop of the goop into a large vessel for pouring.  A small pitcher maybe, or a large tumbler.  Clean out the mixing bowl because you'll need it for the frosting!

Step 3 - "The Goopening"
When the cake comes out of the oven, set it on the counter and grab yourself something from your kitchen drawer that's about as thick as a No. 2 pencil.  The handle of a wooden spoon, maybe, or the fat end of a chopstick works well.  Begin in the upper left of the cake surface and while the cake is still hot, gently poke and twist a perfectly round hole into the cake, all the way to the bottom.  Move over an inch, and repeat.  Do this until you have impaled the entire cake with holes that are no more than one inch away from each other.  Take a deep breath and grab your goop.  With a steady hand, pour the goop all over the cake and into all of the holes.  Make sure you get nice, even distribution!  Park the goopy cake into the refrigerator for 90 minutes so the cake can recover from the shock!  I mean, how would YOU feel if someone pulled you out of a warm bed and covered you with chocolate cream??

Step 4 - The Frosting
While the cake coming to terms with its new goopy partner, you can make the frosting!  Using a stand mixer (a hand mixer will do, but you won't be able to make this frosting with a hand whisk), dump your softened butter into the bowl and crank up the horsepower.  Whip this butter until it's nice and creamy.  Slow the mixer down and add the Bailey's, Vanilla, and salt.  SLOWLY, add the cocoa powder, being careful not to allow your mixer to sling the powder all over your kitchen (it happens, trust me)!  While the mixer is still slowly doing its thing, add the powdered sugar in small doses, until you're out of sugar and you're staring at a beautiful, creamy, tan-brown, fluffy frosting!  

When the cake's 90 minutes are up, pull it out of the fridge.  It will look "funky" and not like cake at all.  In fact, it will look a little like a WWI "No Man's Land," littered with artillery holes.  IT'S OK!!  Frosting covers all!  Use every gram of frosting (except for what you already licked off of the beaters) to evenly cover this cake, then sprinkle on your min-chips (or chocolate shavings, chocolate sprinkles, dust, sugar, or whatever else might suit your fancy).

A word of caution... This cake is RICH and one piece is ENOUGH for awhile!  You may wish to consider it a "meal replacement" rather than an "after dinner treat" or whatever.  Also, this is a bit of an adult cake.  The chocolate is real, and it's rich, and the flavor is deep!  While kids would certainly enjoy it, they wouldn't enjoy it "properly!"

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Pig (Smoked Ham), and Sauce!

Turkey is great and all, but can we talk a bit about the OTHER meat that's on the table?  HAM, baby! While it may buck tradition a bit, here's how to make a whole ham that will rival your Turkey in presentation and taste!

35lbs of Juicy Pig Butt!

What's the deal with ham?  First let's talk about exactly where it comes from... It’s as if all of the butchers and hog farmers in the world got together and made a pact to confuse the general populace.  First things first, “Ham” comes from a pig’s buttock (left or right).  While a “Pork Butt” might sound like a pig-bootie, the Butt (or “Boston Butt”) is actually from the pork shoulder.  Confused yet?  It gets better.  If you cut the buttock out of a pig, it’s not called a “Ham” yet, it’s called a “Picnic.”  Some call it a “picnic ham” or a “country ham” which is even more confusing.  What you need to know is this; a “Picnic” does not become a “Ham” until it is salt cured, and cooked (usually smoked).  When you buy a ham from the store, if the label says “Ham,” then it’s already cooked and safe to eat.  Technically, you could bring it home, cut it open, and eat it right away (but it won't taste very good, to say nothing of the rubbery texture).

Curing and smoking your own ham from scratch, starting with a raw Picnic is a chore and while I’ve done it, I don’t recommend it because it’s involved, messy, and it takes days or weeks to do it right.  Therefore, I buy “Hams” and then cook them (ok, “re-heat” them, essentially) at home, adding flavor, etc.  They're super easy to find during the holidays, even Walmart sells Cook's 20-30lb whole bone-in hams at this time of the year!

Smoking a ham is one of the easiest things in the world to do.  

You Will Need:
  • 1 Whole Bone-in Ham (not sliced, not "halved," not boneless) 
  • 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 Cup Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

Why a "whole, bone-in ham?"  Lots of reasons... If the ham has been cut in half or spiral-sliced, all of the moisture will leak right the hell out when you put it on your smoker or into your oven and it will dry out like nobody’s business.  If your grandmother ever cooked one of these, she probably opened the oven and basted it every 10 minutes to keep it moist.  Thanks Grandma! I'm way too lazy to do that...  When it comes to boneless hams, most of them are little more than a processed (pressed) “loaf” of ground or many smaller pieces of ham.  That's perfect for breakfast or ham sandwiches, but it's not what we're going for, on Thanksgiving!

Lay the ham out on your cutting board, so the rind is down.  Take a small sharp knife and cut about 1/4" deep, scoring a checkerboard pattern through the skin, fat, and down into the meat.  
I tend to cut so that my squares come out 3/4" on a side.   As the ham cooks, it will swell and your squares will be beautifully presented.  Take your time with this, you'll be rewarded!  Once you're through cutting, have a cold beer and relax a bit.  The hard part is over!

Now, place the honey in a small bowl and heat it in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Mix in the mustard and stir, stir, stir until you have a nice honey mustard sauce.  Spoon the sauce over your ham, pressing gently to squish it into your lattice cuts.
After all of the sauce is rubbed into your ham, sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top.  Press the spices into your "trenches"  and take a step back to marvel at what you've done!  You're one step away from a restaurant quality Holiday Ham, and you only paid 1/3 of the price for it!  Seriously, I've seen these things sell in Holiday Catalogues for more than $10/lb!  You're better than that!!

Jam a temperature probe into the center of the meat, being careful that the tip of the probe is away from the bone.  Set your Smoker, Grill, or Oven to 250 degrees, and lay it on!  Pull it off the heat when the internal temperature hits about 130 degrees.  Note how the meat shrinks away from the bone bit, giving you a nice handle for slicing?  Mmmmmm.....

Let's talk Sauce!  Why sauce?  Once you start pulling the meat off of the bone in the center (and it should just pull away, by hand), you may want to flavor it even more with a sauce.  Favorite sauces for ham usually include something to offset the salt cure like honey, pineapple, cherries, brown sugar, molasses, etc.  For presentation, I usually slice and pull all of this apart and then pour over my ham sauce, then put the whole damn thing into the middle of the table where people can dig in!  This Ham Sauce is full of all of the good things; Bourbon re-hydrated cherries, pineapple, butter, brown sugar... see?  ALL of the good things, AND, it's great on ice-cream, too!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Smoked Tri-tip

Many people compare tri-tip to brisket.  Some even say that tri-tip is the "poor man's brisket" when it comes to BBQ.  I couldn't disagree more!

Tri-tip is, literally, physically, the opposite of brisket.  While the brisket sits in the front of the cow, above the legs and under the chest, the tri-tip is the bottom of the bottom sirloin, at the BACK of the cow, above the REAR legs, under the butt!  Tri-tips are 1/10th the size of a brisket, they carry much less fat and connective tissue, and they need 1/10th of the time to cook.  While a brisket might be "king" when it comes to flashy pit-smoked BBQ, the tri-tip is also super delicious, but it requires 1/10th of the preparation effort and time in the pit.  In other words, if you haven't added tri-tip to your arsenal of BBQ weaponry, you should.  Tonight!

What you'll need:
  • 1 Tri-tip roast
  • Either:
    • Kosher Salt and Pepper
  • Or:
    • BBQ Beef Rub of your choice

Here, we have a nice tri-tip.  Appropriately named for its three obvious points or "tips," this is a very well marbled, slice-able, affordable, hunk of meat, perfect for feeding a family of five.  The other thing I like about them is that my local restaurant supply store sells them 5 or 6 at a time, in bulk, for cheap!  This one weighed in at 3.2lbs, and considered BIG for a tri-tip.

I rubbed it down with Olive oil and seasoned it.  Purists preach that salt and pepper is all you need to season a tri-tip, and I'm sure it's delicious.  I upped the ante a bit by added some brown sugar and some Hatch chili powder.  Whatever you choose, just liberally season both sides and take it straight to the pit!

Preheat the pit first! This is important with tri-tip... Unlike a brisket which needs to sit for hours upon hours to break down gobs of connective tissue, a tri-tip only needs to cook up to medium rare, or 130 degrees.  Mine only sat in the pit for 90 minutes total, there's no need to let it sit there and dry out while your pit heats up to 225.  So... get your grill going and let it come up to 225 before laying in the roast, and inserting your temperature probe.
Let it sit, probed, until the internal temperature comes up to 125 degrees.  It won't take long!  I barely had time to pour myself a lovely beverage and to work myself into a proper recliner before the thermometer started beeping!
Once it reaches 125, take it off and wrap it IMMEDIATELY in aluminum foil!  Wrap it nice and tightly, and drop it into a regular room-temperature beer cooler (without the beer, unfortunately) to sit for 45 minutes.  Crazy?  No!  Magic things happen... it will cook up another 5 degrees or so, and all of the juice (lots and lots of juice), will settle and re-distribute itself inside.  I see lots of folks slice their steaks, roasts, etc, and brag as lots of juice runs all over the plate... Personally, I'd rather have the juice stay in the meat until it's in my mouth!  If juice is on the plate, it means the meat is that much LESS "juicy."
After your tri-tip has had a chance to rest, it's time for the slicin!  Cut it across the grain.  Notice here, the juice is sitting right there, inside that glorious slice of beef!  Tri-tip slices easily, it's super tender so it bites apart easily, and the flavor is top notch!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Smoked Beef Ribs

When I was little, I watched the Flintstones cartoons.  At the beginning, during the opening song, there's a car-hop waitress that brings Fred a rack of ribs that is so big, it actually tips his car over.  I think about that to this day, and now I'm over 50.  "Someday," I think, "They'll clone a Woolly Mammoth and they'll pick me to cook it's ribs!"  That would be a glorious day, indeed.

Everybody is hung up on pork ribs.  Don't get me wrong, baby-backs, St. Louis style, Country Pork Ribs (which aren't ribs at all, by the way, just cross cuts of the pork shoulder), any rib from a pig is certainly delicious, but there's something special about a beef rib.  I'm not talking about the Short Ribs your mom has stewing in the crock-pot either, I'm talking about fulfilling that primal urge to grab the whole damn rib bone out of the cow, holding it like a big beefy club, and gnawing on it, caveman or Polar Bear style.

First, you gotta find them.  This isn't as easy as it might sound, since we're living in an age where most meat is shipped boneless.  What you want to tell your butcher is, "I'd like the whole, uncut beef ribs off of the short plate, please.  Blades of 4 ribs are preferable."  Luckily, my local Sam's Club has them!  Here's what you're asking for:

So... you found some beef ribs.  Congratulations!  Lay out your slabs of ribs (or "plates" to be butcher-friendly) onto your work surface.  I put down a layer of plastic first because my wife won't allow me to install a stainless steel work surface in my home kitchen (yet).

On the back of the plates (inside the curve), you'll find a membrane of connective tissue.  This membrane will not dissolve or "cook away" so it has to be removed.  If your ribs are still good and cold from the fridge, this should peel off in one easy-to-peel piece.  Just cut it loose in one corner with a sharp knife and grab the corner with a paper towel and pull. 

Once the membrane is gone, you'll need to apply some "glue" to help the dry rub stick to the ribs.  I love the new "Worcetershire Thick" sauce.  It's exactly what it sounds like, a Mustard-like version of the classic Worcetershire sauce.  Go ahead and glop on a thin layer as shown.

Shake on your dry rub.  I like a sugar-based rub, and I make my own.  I use equal parts of brown sugar, Kosher salt, ground pepper, paprika, and chili powder.  I might also add a bit of garlic powder or white pepper or jalapeno powder, but I'm keeping that a secret!  Don't be shy with the rub, let her fly.  I would use 2 or 3 cups of dry rub to get all four of these plates covered.

Flip your plates over so the front side is showing, and start trimming some fat.  The "fat cap" is still on your ribs if you bought them "whole" or "un-trimmed."  How much fat to cut is up to you.  There's always a part of me that thinks, "I paid good money for these and I hate to just throw any away."  Try to resist this thought.  What makes ribs so gosh-darn juicy and flavorful is the fat and connective tissue that is deep inside the muscle.  Trust me, there is plenty of it in there.... there's no need to "skimp" on the trimming of exterior fat.

Here's what my ribs looked like after trimming the exterior fat.  If you have a dog, you can cut the fat into small portions and add it to his food over the next few weeks, right out the freezer.  Saturated fat is actually very good for them!  Anyway, once the fat is trimmed from the front side of the ribs, repeat the Worcetershire/Dry-Rub process on the front.

Now that the rub is in place, tightly wrap each plate in plastic wrap and stack them on the counter (away from the dog), and let them come up to room temperature.  Typically, I start this whole process around 6am if I want the ribs for dinner that day.  Once they're wrapped up well, let them sit until noon (4-6 hours).  DO NOT SKIP THIS CRUCIAL STEP!!  Magic happens during these hours; the dry rub penetrates the meat and turns into a spicy/sweet mushy goodness that will become a wonderful "bark" or crust on the exterior of the ribs.

The cooking process will take almost exactly 6 hours.  Get the heat in your smoker up to a consistent 225 degrees.  When you can hold 225, lay the plates out on your smoker (curve down, or backside down) with as much exposure to the smoke as possible. Make sure the thicker side is facing up.

Close the lid and let the ribs sit and smoke, untouched, for three hours.  A good smoker should be able to hold a temperature of 225 for that long without any interference, but you'll definitely want to monitor it.  Do NOT let it get hotter than 250 and certainly don't let it get any colder than 225. 

After your 3 hours are up, transfer the ribs to a large cooking pan and add one cup of apple cider vinegar and one cup of orange juice.

You should notice a couple of things.  The crust on the outside of the ribs should be getting noticeably darker, and the meat should be starting to pull back away from the bones.  Pour on the cider and COVER the ribs with a couple of layers of foil.  Put them back on the smoker for two more hours.  You could do this stage in a 225 degree oven if you want, but your smoker is already going so...

After the 2 hours are up, take the cover off of the ribs.  Have a look.  Is the meat falling off of the bone?  No?  GOOD!  In the end, you want to be sure that there's enough "pull" so that your teeth can pull the meat off of the bone.  Put the ribs, uncovered, back into the smoker for about an hour to "finish" them.  Brush on a glaze of your favorite BBQ sauce or spritz them with the juice that was rendered during the 2-hour covered phase.

I used my cleaver to cut the ribs into "individual servings" but I certainly didn't need to!  (I put that in quotes because most normal people can't finish a rib by themselves).   A small steak knife would easily have sung it's way through these without any sawing motion, ZING!  Note the nice dark crust (bark) and the dark smokey red color of the meat on the inside.  Also note, most of the fat has cooked away (it's in the grease bucket under my smoker).

They say you should keep your lawyer happy!  Mine was very happy on this particular day, I can tell you.  We had 16 of these monstrous ribs to split between three hungry men (we did have leftovers).

These are so good, you don't really need any bbq sauce.  Some insist on it though, so use it if you want it.  Just make sure it's a vinegar based sauce and that you heat it up prior to use.


Video Summary: