Easy Peasy Pork Ribs (No photo, ate too fast)

from: Daniel Larkin
to: “Jamey W. Bennett” 

Just because the mother of my child is vegetarian doesn’t mean I can’t make ribs on Mother’s Day.  Jenny wanted to have her parents over for Mother’s Day and grill veggie burgers.  And since Jenny’s mother (who eats vegetarian 90% of the time) is always stealing one of my ribs when we go to Roadhouse, I decided to be the good son in-law and grill 3 lbs of pork ribs for Judy.  She ate one rib.

I’ve never done ribs before, (except this one time when my buddy John and I cooked a few racks in a stone smoker we built during a camping trip) but I’ve slow cooked my share of meats at home before, so I felt comfortable.  I just applied basic methods and common sense, and hit a home run.

  • First, I peeled off the silver skin from the back of the ribs with a knife and some elbow grease.  It’s the tough stretch stuff on the underside.  (Why the butcher doesn’t do this, I’ll never know)
  • Then I sprinkled the ribs with a mix of brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper and cinnamon.
  • Then, as the oven was preheating to 230º, I poured about two cups of vegetable stock and a beer into a stock pot, and squirted in a good dose of liquid smoke.
  • I laid the ribs in the stock pot with a tight fitting lid, but elevated them above the liquid by setting them on two ceramic pot-pie ramekins.  (For all my cooking, I don’t own a roasting pan.  Obviously, that’s the easiest thing to do.)
  • Then I let that shit go for 5 hours.  No need to baste or anything.  They were literally falling off the bone when I pulled them out.  And the juice!
  • I finished them off by brushing them with some BBQ sauce and grilling them on high flames for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce was caramelize.

I honestly should have taken a picture of these things, but I couldn’t stop eating long enough to wash my hands and get my camera.  Just trust me, they were friggin’ amazing!

North Carolina Barbecue Sauce & Tacos

from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin

Hey Dude,

Since North Carolina is basically your next door neighbor, I doubt I have to be the one to tell you that North Carolina barbecue rocks.

1. I love vinegar.
2. I love spicy food.
3. I love to eat pigs.

On a side note, I think it’s funny that the word “barbecue” to a North Carolinian means pulled (or chopped) pork and a spicy vinegar sauce. My homeboy Brotha SouL gave me a blank look when I talked about barbecue chicken, or barbecue ribs. To him, Barbecue is a noun meaning only pulled pork. I guess they call the other stuff “grilled” or something? I don’t know.

Anyway, I have only recently begun to enjoy the wonders of NC barbecue. My first exposure was when I made a sauce recipe from Amazing Ribs. I could practically drink the stuff. But the first time I tasted actual, authentic barbecue in NC was last summer. My life was changed.

Some time ago, my friend Steve Robinson posted an update on Facebook that he made an East Carolina sauce. I generally trust his palate (except for his McDonald’s habit!), so I asked him for his recipe. In fact, I’m pretty sure I texted you a screen shot of his “seat of the pants…ballpark” sauce recipe. Here goes:

  • 2/3 Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 White vinegar
  • A couple Tbsp. brownsugar
  • Some salt
  • A good tsp. of cayenne pepper
  • Crushed red peppers (he used a 12-pepper mix from his sister, I used crushed and fermented red peppers that I made)
  • Some coarse black pepper
  • A couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • A couple tablespoons of ketchup

I like mine with a lot of black pepper…it just smells and tastes awesome, especially with the vinegar. Anyway, I made two 16 oz. Mason jars a couple of months ago. Wonderful stuff. Oh, and it’s best if left overnight for the flavors to blend. And shake it up whenever you think of it.

Now, the tacos. The tacos are easy. Get some pork. Doesn’t really matter what kind, or how much. I put three pork chops in my crock pot, and poured the sauce over them. Cooked it on low all day. About 6 or 7 hours in, I pulled the pork out, shredded it with a couple forks, and then put it back in the crock pot.

When I was almost ready to eat, I made a simply pico de gallo with diced tomato, red onion, fresh jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper. I poured some of the barbecue sauce over it and let it sit for about 10 minutes to soak up the flavor. Meanwhile, I warmed some flour tortillas in my cast iron skillet.

Once done with all of that, I removed the meat with a ladle with holes. After removing the meat, I further drained the pulled pork. (The reason for this is that you don’t want soggy tortillas!)

Anyway, I put the pork on the tortillas, threw on the pico, and a little bit of lettuce. Then I spooned a VERY small amount of more vinegar sauce on the top. It was AMAZING.

Next time, I’m going to try slaw instead of lettuce. But I don’t think I’ll change a thing about the meat or the sauce. And I’ll probably keep the pico.

jamey

from: Daniel Larkin
to: ”Jamey W. Bennett” 

I LOVE North Carolina BBQ.  I used to cook at a dive bar in Charlotte called The Penguin.  The place had three owners — a cook, a business man, and a maintenance guy — all with full sleeves of tattoos.

Anyway, the cook-owner got his start making BBQ, and he would still do all of our meats offsite with his secret recipe.  I also worked with an awesome Mexican dude named Manuel (Real name? Probably not.) and he’s the one who showed me how to make salsa.  Manuel would also bring his own corn tortillas into work, and we would deep fry them to make taco shells.  You already know what we filled them with!

Long story short, this is gonna fill a gap that was left in my belly after I quit The Penguin.

Agave Lemon Beer Butt Chicken – with BACON

Every year, if we’re all together, my (Jamey) family has a beer butt chicken cook-off around Christmas or New Years. This is what I did in 2010, and it was awesome. Daniel asked what I did…and here’s my response.

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Okay, here it is.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 beer butt stand (you can get these at Walmart or online)
  • 1/2 beer in a can (you can use a soda can & fill it up with homebrew or whatever)
  • Lemon pepper seasoning (the one I used was fancy, and included a lot of goodies like garlic powder and salt and such – in other words, just find one that sounds awesome)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Agave nectar (you can get this in the honey section)
  • 1 pack of bacon (12 oz or 16 oz, you choose)
  • 2 lemons
  • Toothpicks

Thaw the chicken, separate the skin from the front and the back of the chicken carefully. There may be sections that will be difficult to separate, so I just took a knife and made little slits in the skin, and put my finger in their to separate it a bit.

Squeeze bits of the butter in between the skin and the meat all over the chicken. I didn’t quite use the whole stick, but pretty close.

At this point, it may be a good time to put the chicken on the stand for decoration purposes, but don’t put the beer in yet. Sprinkle the outside with the lemon pepper, and load your hand up with lemon pepper and work it into the meat, between the meat and skin.

Cut one of the lemons and squeeze the juice all over the bird, and even inside if you wish.

Use the agave nectar and squeeze it between the meat and skin, and then do a few circles on the outside of the bird (it will slowly run down your chicken.

Now wrap that shit in bacon, and use toothpicks where necessary to keep the bacon in place. Glaze the bacon with the agave. Now let it sit for awhile for the flavors to soak in.

Pull the stand out, put the beer can in the stand, then stick it back in. I threw a few bits of red onion inside the can, as well as some lemon peel, but I have no way of knowing if this did anything. Sounded good to me, though. Oh and I put a bit of soy sauce in the beer too, but that was an impulse. Also, I used a Bavarian-style hefeweizen in keeping with the lemon fruitiness theme. But I bet even Coors would make a mean bird.

Slice into the other lemon a bit so that the meat of it is exposed and shove it into the top of the bird where the neck used to be. This will keep the beer goodness locked inside the bird, and will hopefully allow lemon juice to drip into your bird, making it moist and delicious.

Grill or bake upright (thanks to the stand). We grilled for about an hour. It pretty much requires your attention the whole time (keeping the grill shut as much as possible), but especially because of the butter and bacon – you will have flare ups.

Use a meat thermometer and pull off when it’s 170-180 in the thigh. Remove it from the stand (this is tricky and may require several tools and people), remove the lemon, get the toothpicks out of it, carve, and enjoy.

This kicks ass. I’d like to figure out how to make it a little more lemony if possible. Oh, and drink a few beers when you cook it. I almost forgot that.

Laterz,
Jamey

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

Oh shit.  I think I just peed a little bit reading that.  You know its a quality recipe when it has the three-B’s of awesomeness – bacon, butter and beer.  I’ve never heard of a beer-butt can cooker, but that looks genius.  I will definitely have to try this.  Thanks!

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

They are awesome.

Here’s a standard type: http://amzn.com/B000XE63M2

And here is a fancy one, looks like no BPA. http://amzn.com/B0007ZGUK2