Summer is finally here, and its arrival brings cravings for those foods we associate with slow, easy days. Treats like ice cream and Popsicles come to mind, but also hearty foods like barbecue, potato salad, corn on the cob, crumbles, and cobblers.
Are You Hungry Yet?
At our house, summer barbecues are launched on Memorial Day, and the menu often includes spare ribs. Sometimes, they are really good, and other times they’re just “okay.”
So, when I couldn’t sleep the night before our feast, I did some research on how to cook good pork ribs.
I had read Michael Pollen’s excellent treatise on barbecue in his book, Cooked. If you want to make authentic Southern barbecue, this is where you’ll find the history, methods and anecdotal notes.
(click photo for more info)
But, I wasn’t up to tending a wood fire for twenty-four hours.
The wise advice I did find prevented me from making mistakes (for example, boiling or braising the ribs).
My takeaway was that, to make melt-in-your-mouth ribs, the most important ingredient is time.
I’ll get you to the pork rib recipe, and some others, soon. I just want to share with you a couple of other ideas.
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Summer Barbecue: The Menu
Whenever we host, I try to do as much as possible before hand. It’s a tactic to ease anxiety, and also, forgetfulness. It lets you enjoy the party! Our summer barbecue menu evolved into almost all make-ahead foods.
We were all stuffed and satisfied at the end of the meal. And, it was easy! Buying the cake, lemon filling, and bread left me with little to prepare.
The potato salad can be made a day ahead. I think it tastes even better on the second day, as the potatoes absorb the dressing’s flavors.
The raspberry syrup, barbecue sauce, ribs, and green salad can be made a day ahead, too.
What do you do the day of your get-together?
You assemble the dessert, warm the bread, and put the ribs on the grill to crisp and glaze them with barbecue sauce. Then, toss the salad with some oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. That’s it!
Add you favorite beverages, olives and cheeses as appetizers, and you have a lovely summer barbecue menu.
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Summer Barbecue: The Methods
How long do the ribs need to bake? Time and temperature matter.
Preheat your oven to 300°F.
Place the rib slabs on foil lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle and then rub them with sea salt and black pepper (rubbing makes a difference in how the spices permeate the meat).
Bake for 3 1/2-4 hours. The ribs should be easy to pierce with a toothpick, between the bones, when they are done.
Cool, wrap the ribs with the foil, and refrigerate.
About 30 minutes before serving, warm up the grill to a medium heat, and take the ribs out of the fridge.
Place the rib slabs onto the heated grill, coat them with sauce (one side at a time), and let the sauce cook and brown onto the ribs.
You end up with meat that is rich in flavor, lightly sauced, and falling off the bone. Can’t ask for much more:)
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Summer Barbecue: The Recipes
You can buy barbecue sauce. but it won't taste as good as this!
- 8 oz. tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 2 tbsp. prepared mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. crushed)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups. For best flavor, allow to cool before using. Can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.
My grandmother's potato salad was the best, and no one can make it quite like she did. Her unique dressing is a mix of sour cream and mayonnaise.
- 6-8 white or gold potatoes boiled and drained, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
- 3-4 hard-boiled eggs peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup celery diced
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3-4 dill pickles diced
- 3-4 sweet pickles diced
- 1 tbsp prepared mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- paprika garnish
Prepare the potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Allow to cool, then peel and dice. Add to a large mixing bowl.
Add chopped celery and pickles to the bowl.
Thoroughly mix the remaining ingredients (except paprika) in a smaller bowl. Fold this dressing into the veggies. Sprinkle with paprika.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Raspberries have a delicious tartness that enhances the flavors of lemon and sweet cake.
- 1 angel food cake purchase or make ahead
- 1 can lemon pie filling
- 10 oz. raspberries, frozen thaw
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Thaw raspberries in a small bowl. Add sugar and water, mix and set aside. (If you buy raspberries in syrup, you can skip this step).
Use a table knife to loosen the cake from its pan. Turn the cake on its side, and slice horizontally to make two layers.
Put the bottom layer back into the cake pan. Spoon the pie filling onto the bottom layer. Place the top cake layer over the filling.
Chill the filled cake, in its, pan, until ready to serve.
Use a large spoon to scoop out cake servings from pan. Spoon raspberry syrup over cake. Serve.
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