For the 4th of July holiday weekend I trekked to northern Ohio to visit one of my sisters and celebrate my goddaughter's birthday.
Now, usually when I visit this sister, Barb, I end up cooking for her and the family; freezing at least a couple of meals for later. It's a good arrangement: she lets me cook things I might not normally make (or buy the ingredients for) and she gets food she would never even attempt to make. Plus, it keeps me occupied while I am there.
As a treat, she offered to take me to the Cleveland Westside Market. This place was awesome. There was an outdoor area that was all produce and then an inside area that had butchers and seafood and candy and cheese! [Oh my! - Court] It was glorious! Even though I have lived in the DC area for the past (OMG) 13 years, I have only been to Eastern Market once or twice, and I have always been too scared to really go inside the market. I have been to Lexington Market, in Baltimore, once with Angela (on a mass-transit odyessy) for Berger cookies. And, even though I grew up less than eight miles from it, I have never been to Findlay Market in Cincinnati (I will be rectifying that situation in September).
We were mainly there to buy produce for the birthday party on Sunday. Barb wanted a vegetable platter and a fruit tray, which are simple enough - unless you are me. I made Barb move outside of her comfort zone and choose some fruits her family isn't as familiar with, like mangoes (yup, mangoes), fresh pineapple (I guess some people don't like to cut their own) [Some people don't like to eat it at all! - Court], and canary melon (like a cross between cantaloupe and honey dew, but with a bright yellow rind). It was actually a lot of fun to walk through the market with the vendors offering samples and up selling us (you were right honey dew man, we did need three!). The vendors know their stuff, and I would suggest, a) if you have the opportunity and b) if you are unsure how to choose something, to go to a place like this. When we were buying the pineapples, the guy selling them asked when we wanted to eat them and was able to give us two of the best pineapples that were perfect two days later for the party.
By now you're probably thinking, "What in Sam Hill does all this have to do with ribs? Get to the grilling, woman!"
Well, Dave, my sister's husband, wanted to buy some ribs and wanted my help making them. At this point I probably should have let him know that I knew nothing about ribs, grilling, or anything of the sort. Of course, instead I just went with it and pretended I knew what the heck I was doing (besides, I could totally just get the meat guy's opinion and pass it off as my own . . . not that I would do that).
Dave had a very definite idea of what kind of ribs he wanted, but we never actually found what he had in mind. Instead, Dave chose Western-style pork ribs and I picked out some Country-style pork ribs. Western-style aren't really ribs at all, they are closer to the loin/shoulder area and don't actually have ribs in them. Country-style are from the blade area and can include the backbone (which half of ours did) [You totally sound like you know what you're talking about, by the way. I raised pigs I'm still all, from there where now? - Court]. We made the ribs in two batches; mine were our experimental batch the night before the party.
Since I wasn't at all prepared to do something I had never really done before - pick out meat or grill - I was really glad I had brought this month's Bon Appetit, which was all about grilling!
I started with a quick marinade. We didn't really have either a recipe or ingredients (Barb doesn't really keep a well stocked pantry), but we managed to find some random things that I thought would work well together:
2 lb. Country-style pork ribs
6 oz pineapple juice [You had me until pineapple juice! - Court]
2 tbsp Thai chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
I mixed it all together and added the pork, however after about a half-hour we were hungry. Dave had started the grill a little before (five-ish minutes?) and then let me have at it. Now, since it wasn't my grill and I didn't have wood chips or little pans or anything, I didn't so much as follow the directions for grilling per Bon Appetit. I used them more as a guide for what I was trying to do. Mainly, I went by gut feeling for most of this adventure. Sadly, gut feeling can't really be explained. I will say that I tried really, really hard to keep the grill closed as much as possible and to only flip the meat once or twice.
I actually think this is an important lesson for this blog: I doesn't have to be perfect (I should really know that by now), I don't have to always follow the directions to the letter of the recipe - I can adapt to fit the situation and the world, surprisingly, won't end. [That just made me have a panic attack - Court] Most of the time I prefer to make the recipe exactly as written the first time through, but I think in this case that isn't as important. I feel you are a successful grill master if you don't burn down the house, porch, etc. and the meat is fully cooked. [Remember the time we made beer-butt chicken on the back porch at Fern Place? How did we not burn the house down? - Court] [Dude, it had to be dumb-luck. -Turk]
I managed both of those and as a bonus, they tasted pretty good too.
I will say, after about 40 minutes, they weren't done on the grill so we stuck them in the oven in a foil-lined pan for 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees. I think part of the problem was the grill wasn't actually hot enough to begin with. We were using a gas grill, and there wasn't a real thermometer, more of a high, medium, low gauge. . . We were closer to medium while grilling. and we kept opening the cover to get out hot dogs.
The next day, we made the Western-style ribs, and followed the same basic procedure. However, this time we added a little (specially purchased) Thai peanut sauce and let the ribs marinate for several hours. Again, we ended up finishing them up in the oven, but they were so tasty no one cared and everyone wanted the recipe.