Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day

Yet another Memorial Day is in the books, a time for us to reflect on all those who have served and a signal that the summer season is just about upon us. Besides being a good time to reflect, it was also a good day for me to rest: I love days with little planned, probably because my restaurant days are so structured. I scrambled all week the week before just so that I wouldn't have to work on Monday and could just stay home with Ann. And that is always a good day!

We did have plans to go check out a wine bar in Warrenton, but Ann hasn't been feeling all that great and was not up for the trip. So, she came up with plan B: Bloody Marys at home. While we were out erranding, we bought a can of chipotle salsa (two actually) and a can of tomato purée (and some ribs for dinner). I love horseradish in mine, but I forgot we didn't have any at home, but still, these bloodies were not too terrible, seasoned with chipotle salsa, sriracha, a touch of Old Bay (for the celery seed in it), lemon juice, lime juice, and olive brine. We always start with tomato purée (or make our own in the blender) rather than tomato juice so that the drink still has some thickness and body once we add the vodka. We do not like watery drinks. Or small drinks!

Chipotle Bloody Mary! Happy Memorial Day!

For Memorial Day dinner, Ann had mentioned ribs a few days ago and I thought it was a good idea, but then on Sunday, she started talking about some cold good-for-you cellophane noodle salad. No! Not on Memorial Day! It's gotta go on the grill and it is not supposed to be remotely good for you. I didn't have time or the opportunity to score some decent ribs during the week, so we had to put up with what we could find at the market. Ribs, American-style St. Louis ribs thank you very much, are not much of a hit with the largely Hispanic and Asian crew that shops at FoodMaxx, so we settled for some chopstick-friendly spare rib nuggets, the same cut that I wanted, just cut into pieces.

Barbecue Riblets
I threw a quick dry rub onto the riblets and put them in a very slow oven (200F) for about five hours, covered with foil. The dry rub is a bit of this and that—nothing planned in advance—from the spice cabinet: cumin, pimentón, oregano, basil, cinnamon, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. And probably a bunch of other stuff that I have forgotten. Yes, I slow roast the ribs in the oven and then smoke them after they are done. I am not a professional ribmeister nor do I have a rig in which to slow cook my ribs over hardwood all day, nor am I inclined to get one. But I make damn good ribs regardless.

Dry Rub Before Roasting
After they came out of the oven, I threw together a quick three-ingredient sauce that was simply outstanding. A can of chipotle salsa, a third of a can of rice vinegar, and a couple squirts of agave nectar. A sauce to remember. I've made a lot of sauce in my life. This one is awesome!

Best Three-Ingredient Sauce Ever
At dinner time, I heated the outside grill to very hot and put the ribs on to smoke and crisp up. Once they were good and crisp, I tossed them in the wet sauce Buffalo Wing style and we devoured them at the table out on the patio. I have always been a dry rub kind of guy and sometimes I like a little sauce on the side if the sauce is not too sweet. This was an excellent compromise: great flavor and no burnt sauce!

Post-Barbeque Soft-Serve
And after dinner, Ann suggested (insisted?) that we run up to the neighborhood soft-serve joint and stand on line to get a cone: vanilla waffle cone for me, raspberry-vanilla swirl with sprinkles for Ann. Junior pain-in-the-ass-boy was in a full-fledged teenage snit (we "forced" him to eat ribs with us: he should be so lucky again!) so he didn't want to go and we didn't feel disposed to bring him anything back. As lactose-intolerant as I am, this will probably be my one and only cone of the year. But it was so worth it!

Annie, great day and great ideas! Bloodies, ribs, and soft serve: all your ideas. I'm always happy to oblige and if I don't have to think about what to make (like I do all day every day at the restaurant), that is just fine by me!

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