BBQ Country Style Ribs

When setting out to grill or BBQ there is always the question of what to cook and how to do it. Do you want to slow cook on low heat? Do you want something quick and easy? Do you sauce first or after  or even at all? Depending on what part of the country you are from will also greatly determine if you choose to cook pork or beef. Since I grew up on the east coast I tend to lead more toward pork BBQ which goes against everything you hear out in Texas where I live now. Everyone has their own way of doing things on the grill and I am no different, I just happen to think mine tastes a little better than most. I have spent a lot of time over the years developing a specific taste to my BBQ. I have taken tips from the way my Dad does his BBQ as well as taking things from several other places I have tried over the years and have come up with my own unique flavor that is not to sweet, not to spicy and doesn’t have that over powering vinegar taste to it either. My BBQ has just the right amount of all of that. Its kind of like an amalgam of all of the best tastes around the US.

I was doing some grocery shopping over the weekend and came across a great deal on country style boneless pork ribs and knew exactly what I was going to do with them as soon as I saw them.  Boneless country style ribs are a great thing to BBQ. They don’t take that long to cook and just have a great flavor. They have a great meat to fat ratio which is important when grilling. You want something that has a little fat in it to keep from drying out when cooking. But enough about that. Lets get down to cooking these bad boys up.

You can use off the shelf sauces for this but I tend to use my own homemade sauces.

What you need:

1 large pack of boneless country style pork ribs

1 bottle of mustard based BBQ sauce (you want a really tangy sauce for this one)

(My mustard sauce consists of the right amount of yellow mustard, white vinegar, sugar, black pepper and margarine)

1 bottle of tomato based BBQ sauce (you can use your favorite but a good sweet and spicy one is the best to counter the tang of the mustard sauce)

Salt

Black pepper

Prep and cooking

photo 1

Rinse the ribs under cold water and pat dry. Then salt and pepper them all around. Place them in a large bowl and cover with the mustard sauce. Let them marinate for at least two hrs.

Whether you use gas or charcoal is up to you. Either way you will need medium to medium high heat. Something that will give a good sear to the outside while not drying them out when cooking. I know a lot of people complain if they see even a hint of black on their meat but to me it just doesn’t taste right unless you get a little char on the outside. That’s what BBQ is and why people like “burnt end sandwiches” so much (if you’ve never had a burn end sandwich, stop reading and go find one now). It tastes good so trust me. You want to cook these covered for about 7 to 9 minutes on either side depending on how thick they are. Then remove the lid and turn the heat up just a little. With a BBQ brush you now want to coat the ribs with the more traditional BBQ Sauce. You always want to wait until the end to put on most tomato (and brown sugar) based sauces due to them burning easier. Turn the ribs over a couple of times with that sauce on them until it starts to thicken up and get darker. It will create a nice messy,gooey coating that screams BBQ.

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Now they are ready to go. Pull them off the grill and let them cool for a few minutes. You are now ready to enjoy some of the best BBQ you have ever tasted. I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

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Mojo Roasted Pork

Or Cuban roasted pork. Either way it is delicious.

If you have read my previous blog posts you will probably know that one of the things I miss about living in FL is the Cuban food. I showed you all a while back how to make a classic Cuban sandwich and now I will show you how to do Mojo roasted pork. This is a pretty simple recipe but takes awhile to cook. So prepare yourself. You will need to marinade it over night and then set aside about 5 to 6 hrs to cook it the next day because this is a slow roasted pork. Now don’t let the time scare you off, it is well worth it when it is done.

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Here is what you will need to make this. As a little extra I will tell you how to make a quick and easy side dish of black beans to go with it too.

Ingredients

Pork Shoulder (I used boneless) About 4 lbs give or take

Orange Juice (no pulp, about a cup)

Lime juice (1/4 cup)

Dried oregano (2 tablespoons)

Ground Black Pepper (1 tablespoon)

Ground Cumin (1 tablespoon)

Smoked Paprika (1 teaspoon)

Minced or freshly chopped garlic (1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon course ground salt

2 diced Jalapenos (for the beans)

1 medium white onion thinly sliced (for a more authentic taste use red onion, I just happen to prefer white)

1/2 cup of diced onion (for the beans)

1 can black beans ( I used Bushes black beans)

Marinade

Mix orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt and half of the garlic together in a bowl.

Take the pork shoulder (trimmed of excess fat) and place it in a large Ziploc bag and pour the marinade in and close the bag. You may want to double bag to prevent leaking. Make sure it is mixed all around and has touched all of the pork. Place in the fridge over night.

Cooking the pork

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees

Take the marinated pork and place it in an oven safe pot with a lid that covers it entirely. You can pour in a little of the marinade with it if you like. Then discard the rest. Now add the sliced onion to the pot and put the lid on it.

Put the pork in the oven and roast it for 5 to 6 hours. About half way through you will want to turn the shoulder over in the pot and mix the onion around a little. If this is a fatty pork shoulder you will also want to drain any extra fat from the pot leaving about half an inch in the bottom. Put the lid back on and put it back in the oven for the remainder of the time.

That is it for the pork. You will know it is done when you can stick a wooden spoon or spatula in and it falls apart when you try to move it.

Now as an extra little perk here is how to make a great side to compliment this roasted pork.

Black Beans

Open 1 can of Bushes black beans and pour them in a small pot. Now add the diced onion, jalapeno and the rest of the garlic and cook on medium high heat until the onion starts to soften up. Once it is heated all the way through your beans are ready.

All that is left to do is put a nice portion of pork on a plate with a big spoonful of black beans on the side and enjoy a home cooked Cuban dinner.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

The Perfect Cuban Sandwich

One thing I have enjoyed for many years is a good Cuban sandwich. Growing up in Florida I have had my fair share of Cuban sandwiches good and bad and even skirting bizarre. I will have to tell you about the meatloaf Cuban sometime.

When I moved to Texas I realized that there was a shortage of Cuban restaurants and not many places offered a really good Cuban sandwich, or at least not a traditional one. There are a few things that go into making a Cuban sandwich great and without those I don’t think it can truly be called a Cuban. First is the bread;  A Cuban is made with a hard crust Cuban bread or you can use a good French bread which is essentially the same thing, just make sure it is a hard crust bread. An 8 to 10 inch piece will make a filling sandwich. Second is the mustard and pickles, it’s just not a Cuban without mustard and pickles and I mean dill pickles not those vile sweet things people try and pass off as pickles. When I make a Cuban I don’t go for the fancy mustard, I grab the French’s plain ole yellow mustard. For me this just brings out the flavor of the meat. Which brings me to the filling for the sandwich. For it to be a great Cuban sandwich it must use two meats, a good thin sliced roasted pork and a thin sliced ham are the traditional choices and to compliment it you need to add a couple of slices of Swiss cheese. If you want it to be a great Cuban you need the Swiss cheese. Now the last thing to make a great Cuban sandwich is that it has to be pressed flat. Some restaurants seem to miss this step and to them I say “shame on you”. You need to press the sandwich in a hot pan on both sides or even in something like a panini press but however you do it flatten it and get it toasty on the outside or its not worth the effort.

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So lets get into making this glorious creation.

Ingredients

3 to 4 slices of Boars Head Black Forest Ham (sliced thin)

3 to 4 slices of roasted pork (sliced thin)

French’s yellow mustard

French Bread (8 to 10 inch loaf)

Garlic Powder

Dill pickles sliced (about 6 slices)

Swiss cheese (two slices)

Assembly

First cut the end off of the French bread at a slight diagonal and then slice it in half down the center so that there is a top and bottom for your bun. Now spread a nice amount of mustard on the inside of both halves and then lay out the meat slices, ham first then pork. Now cover with the cheese and then pickles and then put the top half of the bun on.

Now take a large pan that will fit your sandwich and give it a nice coating of cooking spray and heat to medium high heat. Sprinkle in  a little garlic powder while it is heating up. Once the pan has heated up put the sandwich in and let it start to toast. While it is toasting you will want to use either a spatula or a smaller pan to press it as flat as you can. After it has toasted for a couple of minutes take it out and spray a little more cooking spray and add a little more garlic powder and do the same thing to the other side of the sandwich. You will know it is done when you see the cheese start to melt a little.

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Now remove the sandwich, cut it in half and enjoy. You may add things to your sandwich if you want,  I have even been known to put a little mayo on from time to time or even a few grilled onions to change it up a bit, but never ever remove anything if you want it to truly taste like a Cuban Sandwich. I think if you follow these instructions that you will end up being just as big a fan of the Cuban sandwich as I am.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,

JMW

Collard Greens (Not just a side)

There are many side dishes out there that can be tweaked a little to be turned into a main course if  you just have a little imagination. Now I know that a lot of people tend to turn their nose up and say ewwww to different greens and it is mostly because of the smell they give off while cooking or just a general loathing of anything green. To you people I say give them a chance because once they are done and you get that first bite you will be hooked. I grew up eating collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens and love them when they are cooked properly which unfortunately is something a lot of places don’t do. Most restaurants will have them on the menu as a side dish and that is fine but I am here to show you that this does not have to be the case. You can make them where they are the main dish and you will be looking for something else to put on the side.

So here is what you need to make this tasty dish

Ingredients

3 bunches of fresh collard greens

2 lbs country style (pork) ribs (boneless)

1/4 lb sliced salt pork (you can use bacon but salt pork is better)

Garlic Powder

Black Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes

Prep

Cut the the salt pork into small 1″ pieces

Cut the pork ribs down to 2″ square pieces

Cut the stems off of the collards right at the bottom of the leaf and throw them away, now rinse the leaves, then cut the leaves into small 1 to 2 inch squares and set aside in a bowl.

Cooking

In a large pot with a lid you want to cook the salt pork first. You are going to cook it on medium high heat until it is golden brown and most of the fat has been rendered off to make a nice cooking oil. Then add the pork ribs in and season with the garlic powder and black pepper (Use about a tablespoon each). Cook the ribs until they are nice a brown and crisp on the outside. Now reduce the heat to medium and drain off any excess oil. Add in the cut up greens and red pepper flakes and put the lid on the pot. Cook them on medium for about 45 minutes occasionally stirring.  Now reduce the heat to low and cook for another 45 minutes.

By now the greens should be nice and soft and the ribs should be tender and starting to fall apart.

That’s all there is to it.  A nice dish that is great by itself or accompanied by sides.
Enjoy

Thanks for reading,

JMW

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Growing up on the east coast I was introduced to pork BBQ at an early age and grew up with that being the norm anywhere you went to eat. You walk into a restaurant and the menu showed items like pulled pork, sliced pork, pork ribs etc. Now you can imagine my surprise when I moved to Texas and walked in to my first Texas BBQ restaurant only to look at the menu and not see pork listed anywhere. Everything is beef, Brisket, ribs, chopped BBQ and on and on, its all beef. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good smoked brisket and have even come up with my own rub and method of doing it myself but its just not the same as the BBQ pork I grew up with. Another odd thing about Texas BBQ joints is the cole slaw. Every where you go they have cole slaw on the menu but what you get is a scoop of shredded cabbage soaked in vinegar. This is not cole slaw people. Cole slaw needs to be thick and creamy with hints of vinegar and sweetness. Oh and did I mention the creaminess? for this you need mayo and not just any mayo, you need Helmann’s mayo. It is the perfect consistency and flavor for making a good southern cole slaw. So I took matters into my own hands and came up with my own pulled pork recipe. Now the one I am posting differs slightly than the one I usually make because it is Hatch Chili pepper season, so just about everything I make is getting Hatch peppers added to it.

Lets start off with the ingredients you will need.

Pulled Pork

1 pork loin (about 3 to 4 pounds)

Chili powder

Garlic powder

olive oil

hatch chili peppers, about a pound (optional)

BBQ sauce (regular Kraft works great)

Cole Slaw

1 large bag shredded cabbage

sugar

apple cider vinegar

garlic powder

chili powder

Mayo (Helmanns)

Black Pepper

Salt

And for the sandwich you will need Garlic Toast (or Texas Toast). This is not optional. You have to have it for it to taste like it came from the east coast.

Lets get started on the pork first since it takes a while to cook in a crock pot.

First you will want to heat up a large frying pan with a couple table spoons of olive oil in the bottom. Once the pan is heated you will put the pork loin in and sear it on all sides making sure to season it pretty heavily with chili powder and garlic powder. Now we are not cooking it all the way through here, just searing the outside. Once that is done you want to drop it in the crock pot. Add enough water to cover it only about a quarter of the way. Cover it and let it cook on high. We will be adding something else very soon.

Now lets move on to the Hatch peppers.

You will want to roast the hatch peppers on the grill or in an over close to the broiler. You want the outside of the peppers to turn black. once they are black you will immediately put them into a plastic storage bag so that they can sweat. This makes it much easier to remove the outer skin. Let them sweat for about 20 minutes then remove them from the bag and start peeling the skin off. Once all the skin is removed you will cut the top stem off and remove all of the seeds. Then chop the peppers into about half an inch pieces.  After all of the peppers are chopped you will add them to the crock pot with the pork.

And now it is time for the cole slaw. Yes you do need this even if you think you don’t like cole slaw. That is probably because you have never had it done right and I am now going to show you how to do it right. mmm…mmm…

In a large mixing bowl you want to dump in the cabbage and then pour in about half a cup of apple cider vinegar. no spoon in about 4 tablespoons of sugar and then sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of garlic powder. 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Go ahead and give that a stir and then add about to cups of mayo and stir it all together. You will want to taste it to see if it needs a little more of anything. Some people like it more sweet and some like it less. Once you get the flavor where you like it put it in the fridge to cool while the pork is cooking.

about 4 to 5 hours later…

Check the pork to see if it is ready. You will want to use a spatula or long handled spoon and press down on the pork. If it starts to come apart pretty easy then you are ready to go. Turn the heat off and move the pork to a large mixing bowl to cool. Once it has cooled you can start pulling it apart into smaller chunks with your fingers. Now use a slotted spoon and scoop out the peppers (making sure to let the excess water drain) and add them to the pork. Add about two cups of BBQ sauce and stir it all together until everything has been coated in sauce.

Now its time to assemble the sandwich.

Heat up the garlic bread and place two pieces on a plate. Now on one piece add a big scoop of pork and spread it around to cover the whole thing. Add a nice coat of BBQ sauce and then a big scoop of cole slaw on top of it (trust me on this, you will love it). Now put the other piece of garlic bread on top. You may want to cut it in half because it is going to be messy, but that is part of the fun. All that is left to do is grab a hand full of napkins and sit down and enjoy.

Thanks for reading

JMW

The Salt lick BBQ

Great ***
Pretty Good
OK
No Thanks

Who’s ready for BBQ? Because for this weeks review SA Dining went on a road trip and came up with a winner. Right outside of Austin in Round Rock is a BBQ joint called The Salt Lick. They are known for their unique open pit smokers and delicious food all over Texas, so while I was in Austin I decided to head on over and give them a try.
As soon as I stepped out of my truck I could smell the smoke and it made my mouth start watering. I don’t know if this was just due to the anticipation of the meal to come or if it was because it just smelled so good. Either way I was ready to get inside and see what awaited me. When you walk in the door to The Salt Lick you see kitchen off to the right and everyone buzzing around chopping and cutting some of the best looking BBQ I have seen outside of my own smoker. At the corner of the counter they have a few of their homemade pies sitting on display and I knew I would have to try one, but more about that later. The seating is picnic style with long tables and benches for everyone to sit together and enjoy. I can imagine that when it is busy this can be a little bit annoying as I don’t really care for sharing my table with complete strangers but luckily I did not have to worry about it since they were not very busy when I got there.
After looking over the menu and having a very hard time deciding on just one thing I thought it would be a good idea to go with the all you can eat BBQ family style dinner. This means they bring you a little bit of everything including beef brisket, sausage and pork ribs for the meats and potato salad, Cole slaw, beans, bread and pickles and onions for sides.
I’m going to go ahead and get the sides out of the way before moving on to the meat. Most of these are just standard sides that you get at almost any BBQ place in Texas. The beans are just regular barracho beans which Texas is know for serving with everything BBQ related. While I am from the east coast originally and prefer BBQ baked beans these actually had a pretty nice flavor. The Cole slaw was a little bit better than most places but was still not the Cole slaw I grew up on. Most Texas restaurants make Cole slaw by shredding cabbage and dousing it in vinegar, where I am used to it having a little more creaminess to it with a little mayo and sugar added. Basically I like Cole slaw to have flavor and most of the restaurants out here do not make it that way. Now we move on to the potato salad which they take a different approach to making. This is a non mayo based potato salad that has more of a mustard flavoring to it. While it came off a little bland to me it was still pretty good, and when you added some of the signature BBQ sauce to it it was fantastic. Those are the big guns for the sides and while they were OK I am sure that they are not the reason that most people visit The Salt Lick.

The reason everyone visits The Salt Lick is because of the BBQ and I can say that I now know why. When they set the plate with all of the meat down in front of me I knew that I was in for a treat but I had no idea it would be as good as it was. The first thing I tried was the brisket and it was pretty good. It had a nice smokey flavor and those black crisp edges known as bark that everyone loves. The flavor is good enough that you don’t need sauce but it is even better with it added. My next taste came from the smoked sausage. I have eaten a lot of smoked sausage in my time and had many different flavors and variations but none of them were quite as good as this smoked sausage. I’m not sure if it was the flavor of the sausage or the the flavor that the smoke gave it but either way it was pretty incredible and when you added the BBQ sauce to it you have a flavor combo that cant be beat. I didn’t think that it could get any better than that and was perfectly happy with continuing on until there was no sausage left but I had these port ribs sitting there calling out to me to be tried. So I pushed past the sausage, picked up a rib and bit in to it. First let me tell you that there wasn’t much biting involved because it pretty much fell apart and started melting in your mouth it was so tender. Like the sausage the flavor was incredible and even better with a little sauce. The ribs were perfectly cooked and some of the best tasting I have ever had which says a lot because I grew up eating stuff like this. I’m not sure about you but when in comes to BBQ there are some things that need BBQ sauce and some that don’t, but there are also some that don’t but taste that much better if the sauce is good. The latter applies in the case of just about everything at The Salt Lick. The sauce is a unique blend that uses no tomatoes and has a slightly sweet but mustard flavor to it. It is not a very thick sauce but is thick enough to stick to your food and it is great on everything.
Now after that you would not think that I would have had room to try anything else but when I saw the list of deserts on the menu I had to give it a try anyway. You can choose between a slice of their homemade pecan pie or a bowl of their peach or blackberry cobbler and have a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream added on top of any of them. I opted for the pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream. The pie it self was pretty good but not the best I have ever had. I think the consistency was a little off for me. Instead of being gooey like a pecan pie should be it had more of a pumpkin pie consistency to it which I wasn’t really expecting. But the flavor was spot on and when you add the ice cream nothing else seemed to matter.
After all of that you can count it a sure thing that the next time I happen to be up in Austin I will be making time for a trip back to The Salt Lick and maybe a spot for a nice long nap afterward.

Thanks for reading,
JMW