Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Easy Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs - 2 Ways

If you are a pit master or BBQ judge, then scram! You will not like the easy shortcuts to my cheap$kate and delicious take on Smoked Pork Ribs. And to rub salt in the wound, I give you two ways to smoke meaty pork (or beef) ribs.

My latest recipe uses country-style pork ribs because they always show up on sale at my local Latin grocery store for as little as 97 cents per pound! Even at full price they go for around $2 per pound - still a great deal. You can use any ribs you find on cheaply, beef or pork.

Click on any photo to see larger.

I use a pre-boiling method, that is I load up a pot and stack in the ribs with a cup of water. The ribs steam for a couple of hours until tender, then they are finished with a hour of smoking in my gas grill. I cut down on steaming time with a Pressure Cooker - it only takes 45 minutes to tenderize the thick pork ribs.

Pressure Cooking

My ingredient list is small: garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper and barbecue sauce - that's it. I get these ingredients (even wood chips) cheaply at my local 99c only Stores.

To smoke with barbecue sauce or not to smoke with sauce? That is the question. I've had it both ways and like each.

Texas BBQ ribs are usually smoked without sauce; while out here in my South LA neighborhood, some soul food joints will smoke ribs with the sauce, and give you some extra sauce on the side. Smoking for a short time with sauce give ribs a sweet caramelized skin.

At a BBQ restaurant, cooking with sauce is throwing the dice - you may not like the barbecue sauce recipe. Since you are selecting a favorite sauce it's not a taste problem. And my short time smoking method makes any sauce-burning a minor threat. Of course you can smoke the pork ribs without sauce and just add it during the last 10 minutes of smoking if you like your BBQ wet; or just leave it off.

 My time saving tricks include pre-cooking (tenderizing) the ribs and smoking them for only one hour. I've used this technique for BBQ Pulled Pork and Homemade Deli Pastrami to delicious ends (click on those names to see what I mean.) And you can be sure I'll be replaying this approach all summer.

I got such a huge package of country-style ribs that I smoked a few raw ribs to see what happens. While not as tender as steamed/tenderized ribs, they were smoky sweet with the tougher texture of a fried pork chop - I liked them that way, too.

Like any BBQ pit, I set up my gas grill for indirect smoking. All you do is place the meat away from the fire and let the smoking wood chips do all the work.

I have a metal rack above the grill and placed the raw pork ribs over the hot wood chips, so the raw pork cooks through. It worked quite well, the raw pork cooked perfectly and remained moist, with just an hour of smoking. Depending how how hot the wood chips burn and the thickness of the ribs, cooking time will vary.

If the ribs end up a little raw, then just grill the pork over direct fire until done (or, finish by baking in your kitchen oven.) Always slice into the thickest rib to check for desired doneness.

Raw smoked country-style pork rib.

Once you've tried my easy-smoked BBQ method, you will be coming back for more. There is nothing that taste as good as a summer patio BBQ smoke out.

  • 3-5 pound pork ribs - I used country style pork ribs, as they are meatier than typical ribs, and come on sale more often than any other ribs. You can use any type of ribs you like.
  • 2 tablespoons garlic - For steaming ribs I used chopped raw garlic. For cooking raw ribs on grill, I used dried garlic.
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder - optional
  • Barbecue sauce for smoking - about a cup. Use any favorite barbecue sauce. Slather on as much (or little) as you like.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 cup water - to cook and steam pork ribs.
  • About 4-6 cups of wood chips for smoking on a BBQ grill.

Directions for pressure cooking
For pressure cooking meat, add water and pork to pressure cooker.Sprinkle on the chili powder, raw garlic, salt and pepper. Okay to use dried garlic.

Add one cup of water to pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 45 minutes to one hour. I have only used one type of Pressure Cooker, so check the cooking directions and estimated cooking times of your brand of Pressure Cooker.

Basically you start with a high heat to bring the cooker up to right temperature. My Pressure Cooker has a steam release cap that bobs and tilts when it reaches correct pressure. I reduce heat by half to keep the release cap moving at a slow and steady speed. Pressure Cookers come in all types so best to follow directions that come with it.

 Normal stove top steaming
For regular stove top cooking you can steam the pork ribs in a large pot with a cover. Add a cup of water and the meat.

Sprinkle on the chili powder, raw (or dried) garlic, salt and pepper. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook pork ribs until tender, about 2-3 hours, depending on thickness of meat.

Done when meat is tender and easy enough to break apart. Don't worry if it's too tender, it will firm up as the meat smokes and dries out some. Place it on a pan or wire rack for the smoking stage. Coat the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce. You can coat one side or all sides.

Smoking Country-Style Pork Ribs
For raw pork ribs coat them with chili powder, dried garlic, salt and pepper.

Next slather on the barbecue sauce, adding as much as you like. I you don't like barbecue sauce then leave it off the raw and cooked pork ribs.

They can go right to smoking. Since I made Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs with raw and cooked meat, I coated the raw pork and put it in the refrigerator until the other ribs were finished steaming. That way I smoked all the meat at the same time.

Now time to smoke the pork ribs. There are several ways - you mainly need an outdoor grill with a cover. I have a 2 burner gas grill.

The object is to smoke the meat with indirect and low heat. That is, place the cooked meat as far away from the flame as possible. Since meat is already cooked, you only need to smoke it at this stage. If you have a simple outdoor charcoal barbecue grill then build a fire way off to one side.

I placed the wood chips in a shallow pan. The pan with chips was about 6 inches above the flame - too close and the wood will catch fire too easily. You can soak wood chips in water for a couple of hours before smoking, as well.

The raw pork goes over the wood chips, where it's hottest, so the raw pork will cook all the way through. When done the texture will be firm, similar to a fried pork chop, but with an intense smoky flavor.

 *Okay to smoke raw pork on same side as cooked pork, just don't have it touch cooked pork (cross-contamination.) If pork is still a little raw after an hour, then grill it over a regular fire to your desired doneness. Okay to finish cooking pork in the oven, too. Be sure to slice into thickest pork rib after smoking to check for doneness. Flesh will be white and juices will run clear. Internal temperature is 160 degrees.

Check on wood chips as they smoke down. Also have a water bottle handy just in case the wood chips catch fire - you don't want to burn the ribs.

Cover the barbecue grill and smoke ribs for about one hour. I set the flame on my gas grill to low; the wood chips started smoking in less than five minutes. Add more wood chips as they burn away.

In the hour of smoking I had to some wood chips a couple of times. If you are using a coal burning grill your smoking time may be shorter, as they often burn hotter than a more controllable gas grill.

The sauce will dry out and caramelize on the meat. You can add more sauce halfway through smoking. If you like your sauce wetter, then only add barbecue sauce 5 to 10 minutes before meat is done smoking. Same applies for raw pork ribs. Okay to add some barbecue sauce just before serving.

Pre-steamed & smoked Country-style Rib.

And I have a couple of classic barbecue sides for you, just click on the following names of Coleslaw, Potato Salad or Ranch-style Beans to see my recipes.

The main idea is to smoke the pork ribs in an easy way. You can use any ribs you like, beef or pork. Okay to reduce tenderizing time for thinner baby back or spare ribs. Of course you can cut down ribs into several small slabs to fit inside the steaming pot.

When smoking the meat, use indirect heat so the meat doesn't dry out.

Add as little, or as much barbecue sauce as you like. You can add the sauce anytime during smoking stage. Even during the last 10 minutes.

Raw pork may take a little longer to cook, that's why I placed it above the wood chips. You can always just smoke raw pork off to the side, but it may need some direct heat to finish cooking all the way through.

It's easier to control heat with a gas grill. A regular coal burning grill may burn more intensely, so keep an eye on the wood chips and meat. And keep an spray water bottle handy for wood chip fire flare ups.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Huevos Rancheros - Video Recipe

I am finally getting around to making videos of my favorites from recipes past, and Huevos Rancheros is one of my extra tasty ones. This Mexican breakfast has corn tortillas combined with warm eggs and tangy tomato salsa, plus cheese melted into creamy refried beans. That's a lot of flavor to start the day.

Besides a simple fried or scrambled egg, I make Huevos Rancheros the most. Mainly because I keep a Ziploc bag or two of pinto beans and Mexican cheese in the freezer, just for making this delicious South of the Border breakfast.

Refried Beans

Huevos Rancheros is quick and easy to make. If you use canned refried beans then it's even faster. All you do is heat up some refried beans and tortillas while frying a couple of eggs. You finish by smearing refried beans on warm tortillas, crumbling on cheese, layering on the fried eggs, and finally topping with more cheese and tangy, spicy salsa.

I make my Huevos Ranchero with white Mexican Queso Fresco cheese. It's a medium/soft and crumbly mild-tasting cheese, that is similar to feta cheese in texture, but without the sour taste. It melts slower than regular cheddar cheese so give it more heating time if you like gooey cheese, or just use American-style cheese.

I like my eggs fried, that is, cooked on one side enough to get a slight crunch along the edges of egg whites, while still keeping the yolk runny. You can make your eggs any way you like: Sunny side up, over easy, poached, or even scrambled.

Usually, corn tortillas are lightly heated up for a minute or two just before serving.

Any favorite store-bought jar of salsa will do, but I do have some Homemade Salsas for you to try sometime, just click here to see all the links. Bring salsa up to room temperature or zap it in the microwave in 15-second increments, until warm, but make sure to cover the salsa, as the tomato pieces tend to splatter.

I can get all the ingredients at a 99c Only Store or Dollar Tree, but any grocery stocks corn tortillas, eggs, pinto beans, cheese, and salsa at decent prices. If you have a Latin market nearby be sure to check out their variety of tortillas, cheese, and beans.

My recipe is for one serving of Huevos Rancheros, but it's easy enough to make a few servings if you have a can of beans and a jar of salsa. Just warm up a small stack of tortillas and a pot of refried beans, while the eggs are frying -- it's an easy assembly line.

Setting out a plate of Huevos Rancheros will impress any guest. It's so satisfying and a great way to start the day.

   Huevos Rancheros Breakfast - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 13 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

 Ingredients (one serving - this recipe is easy to double)
  • 1 to 2 eggs - I like 2 eggs, while my wife likes one egg.
  • 3/4 cup of refried beans -  fresh or from a can. I also like to use black beans. Adjust the refried beans amount to suit your taste and add more or less.
  • 2 corn tortillas - okay to use one tortilla for a lighter breakfast.
  • 1/4 cup salsa - any amount of your favorite salsa will do, fresh or from a jar.
  • Cheese - Mexican "queso fresco" or your favorite. Add enough to cover eggs and beans. You can use cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or a cheese blend.
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil - enough to heat tortillas, eggs, and refried beans.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

If salsa is stored in the refrigerator, then reserve a serving amount from the jar and let the salsa reach room temperature.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan or pot over medium heat. If you are using whole pinto beans then add them to a heating pan, along with a tablespoon or two of bean broth. Mash beans with a fork or potato masher until they reach your desired creaminess.

It only took me a couple of minutes to heat through and mash. Set aside, or keep on the lowest heat. Add bean broth as needed to keep refried beans moist. (If you mash a lot of beans, then just store extra in the freezer - refried beans freeze and defrost perfectly.)

If you are using canned or homemade refried beans then heat them up, even in the microwave.

Start heating corn tortillas on a pan or grill with a teaspoon of oil. Tortillas only need a couple of minutes to heat through.

As tortillas are heating up, use your favorite method of frying eggs. I like mine sunny side up, but you can make them over easy, or even scrambled.

When eggs are 1/2 done crumble on Mexican cheese to begin melting. Regular cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack, melts faster, so you can add it just before the eggs are done.

When eggs are done, it is time to bring it all together.

On a plate add warm tortillas and spread on hot refried beans. Sprinkle on some cheese and slide on the cooked eggs with melted cheese. Finally, top with your favorite salsa.

And don't forget the hot sauce!

I have a Homemade Pinto Beans recipe that you can use, just click here.

Pinto beans are typical for Huevos Ranchos, but mashed and refried black beans are just as delicious.

You can use any favorite cheese you have on hand. And add as much as you like. You can make this dish with one fried egg or two.

I have a bunch of salsas recipes, just click on any name to view: tangy Roasted Salsa Verde (tomatillo,) Red Chili (2 dried types - but the same recipe,) Pico de Gallo, and Mango Salsa.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

BBQ Lemon Marinated Chicken

When chicken comes on sale I fire up the grill, especially during the summer months. Lucky for me I also have a lemon tree across the way, so there are always a few lemons on my kitchen windowsill. If you have a BBQ grill, it couldn't be simpler to do a quick BBQ Lemon Marinated Chicken recipe.

Tart lemon and juicy chicken belong together. Sure it's sour, but when exposed to heat and mixed with poultry flavor and char, the taste mellows and give grilled chicken pieces the right amount of lemon tang.

I used fresh lemon from a local tree, but it's okay to use those plastic lemon-shaped juice vessels. You can also use lime juice. I get my plastic lemon from the 99c only Stores.

Chicken is the cheapest protein and I use it a lot. I get mine from my local Latin market. Whole leg quarters come on sale in 10 pound packages for 49 cents per pound; even half breast with skin and bone can be found there for 99 cents per pound. But my favorite deal is skinless and boneless leg quarters for 99 cents per pound!

To keep it cheap use leg quarters that include thigh and leg meat combined. It's easy enough to pull off the skin and slice out the bone. It doesn't have to be a perfect fillet, as long as the meat will not slip through the grill grating when barbecuing.

White meat is the easiest to fillet. The breast meat practically slides off,  when you cut along the bone. In both cases you do want to use a fairly sharp knife blade. I have a cheap sharpener and always give my main knife blade a few drags through it when it comes to deboning chicken

Remember, it's easy to debone breast meat, but takes a bit more blade maneuvering for dark meat leg quarters - but with some practice, you will get better at it.

Of course it's okay to just leave the chicken skin on and bones in - it's all good!

So next time you fire up the grill, get out the lemons for BBQ Lemon Marinated Chicken.

  • 4 pieces of chicken - I used 2 skinless and boneless leg quarters (leg plus thigh). Okay to use chicken with bones and skin.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice - about 2-4 lemons, depending on juiciness. Okay to use store-bought lemon or lime juice.
  • Salt and pepper - to taste.

Slice lemon in half and microwave for 15 seconds or so, to get the most juice. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken pieces.

Salt and pepper pieces of chicken to taste. Mix well. Let chicken marinate in refrigerator for at least half an hour. You can let it go longer, up to a couple of hours.

Simply grill chicken over medium heat. It took my gas grill about 20 minutes total to cook chicken all the way. Depending on the fire-heat it can be quicker or slower to cook. Chicken with skin and bone will take longer - about 10 minutes more.

If you are cooking chicken skin-on, make sure to have a spray bottle with water handy for fire flareups that can blacken grilling chicken too much.

To check for doneness, just slice into thickest part of chicken . Chicken color should be white or light brown - there should be no pink juices or color. Final check is internal temperature at 165 degrees.

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