Chipotle Smoked Pork Ribs

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I have shied away from making barbeque in most of my cooking, partly because I was avoiding something that intimidated me: cooking on a grill. There is usually a clear gender divide in how we cook-men grill; women bake. Most people follow this rule, but there is really nothing inherently different in men and women’s abilities in most things, especially in cooking. So, I put on my brave face and faced the grill with my tongs. Here is my first real attempt at making grilled ribs.

Within the world of barbecue, there are many factions and camps. First, you’ve got your dry rub vs. sauce folks. Then, you’ve got your sweet vs. vinegar divide. And I haven’t even gotten to the use of wood vs. charcoal. While there is probably an ounce of delicious truth to each of these camps, I decided to just go with what was the simplest for me: a dry rub with sweetness from brown sugar, and grilling with charcoal.

I am a huge proponent of using what I have in the kitchen and pantry for my cooking experiments. I happened to have a pre-made dry rub that had salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and “spices”. I added some garlic salt to the mix. I wanted to add a bit of sweetness and spice, which brought Chipotle powder and brown sugar into the mix.

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Cooking tips:

Marinating meat overnight is a great way to ensure that flavor is packed into every morsel of your dish. Again, it is best to under-salt rather than over-salt. When mixing my own rub, I made sure to dip my finger in the rub and taste it before I placed it on my meat. If it is too salty, then add more spices/seasonings that do not contain salt. If it lacks sugar, I’ll add some more brown sugar.

When grilling, as in searing meat, do not, I repeat, do not overdo it with turning and touching your meat. Allow your meat to be enveloped by the wonderful heat of the coals. Turning your meat too much could interfere with the searing and caramelizing process that is happening to your meat.

Recipe

Serves: 2-3
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Marinade Time: 4 hours-overnight
Cooking Time: 28-30 minutes

Ingredients
3 pork ribs
½ c brown sugar
4 tbsp barbecue rub (1 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp black pepper, 2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp garlic powder)
1 tbsp chipotle powder
1 tbsp garlic salt

Directions

  1. Light charcoal using directions on the bag.
  2. When coals are covered in grey ash (~15 minutes) place pork ribs on the grill and cover the lid.
  3. Allow to grill for approximately 7-10 minutes each side, depending on the heat coming from your grill. My grill was at medium-low, so it took about 10 minutes each side. After turning your meat, cover the grill and allow to cook.
  4. When your meat has seared nicely and become golden brown on all sides, remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

Garlic & Herb Seared Lamb

 

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Although it is now well into fall, my senses are in a state of perpetual confusion due to Southern California’s lingering summer. I’m fortunate to live in a region where I can grill outdoors year-round. And although I know that fall is a time for heart-warming soups and stews, as well as pumpkin spice and all things gourd, I couldn’t help but grill up something delicious this past weekend. This was my first attempt at actually lighting the coals because my partner was not at home. I was trying to fight against the gender division of labor in which men grill and women bake. Sadly, there is some truth to this stereotype. In this undertaking, I realized that there is much that I have to learn about how to start a fire, from the kindling to the kerosene to the specific formation that the coals have to be in for them to properly light. Sadly, I was unable to start the grill, so I opted for another excellent option for a steak: pan-searing. In the case of steaks, searing on a grill pan can be a wonderful substitute for barbecuing on a grill.

A perfectly seared steak with its full body of flavor can be the star of a sandwich or platter surrounded by caramelized roasted vegetables. Although beef is well loved by Americans, lamb meat, its “brother from another mother”, can also steal the show. When seasoned and marinated properly, the gaminess of lamb becomes a subtle undertone that provides a more nuanced and interesting layer of flavor. Growing up in a Chinese/Vietnamese family, what little lamb I did eat was often unmasked in its gaminess. The lamb was boldly and unabashedly naked in all its natural goodness as my family opted to prepare lamb in stews that were lightly imbued with rice wine and spices. While I found this preparation very enjoyable in allowing the flavor of the lamb to come through, I recognize that lamb is an acquired taste. For those whose palates are much more sensitive to the pungency of lamb, it is my hope that this marinade will become the Trojan horse that allows lamb to penetrate your culinary defenses and allow for an invasion of your taste buds. I knew that this recipe was special when my little sister, who had previously turned her nose to lamb, kept eating more and more of this dish. When I asked her what she thought of the lamb, she replied “What lamb? Oh, you mean the steak? It’s delicious!”

 

Cooking notes/tips:

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Marinade overnight for best results. Depending on the thickness of your lamb steak, it should be seared 3-5 minutes on each side on medium high heat. I prefer my steaks to be cooked to medium. If upon cutting you realize that your steak is undercooked, you can always place it in the oven/toaster oven at 350 degrees to cook to its desired level of doneness. The steak should be allowed to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing against the grain. Always let your steaks rest before cutting into them. Patience is a virtue that pays off 100% in the world of gastronomy. I have been very upset by Korean BBQ restaurants where servers insist on cooking and cutting my steak for me before it is properly rested. The result? Dry, rubbery pieces of meat that remind you of the Sahara. The moral of the story: rest your meat and your mouth and stomach will be happy. I served this lamb with a cucumber mint yogurt sauce in some warm pita bread.

Ingredients
1/2 lb lamb leg steak
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions

  1. Coarsely chop garlic, thyme, and rosemary and mix with 2 tbsp olive oil.
  2. Season lamb steak with salt and pepper, then place into a freezer bag
  3. Place herb oil mixture into the freezer bag and use to coat lamb steak.
  4. Allow to marinate for at least an hour. Marinade overnight for best results.
  5. Heat a skillet on medium high and drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Sear on both sides, 3-5 minutes each side for medium-cooked steak, depending on the thickness of the steak.
  6. When lamb steak is ready, take out of the pan and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Slice against the grain of the meat and enjoy!