Oven Baked Spare Ribs

I’ve been making ribs for 5 years now – usually for Memorial Day – and each time they are a little different. The last couple of years I’ve had success with baking them in the oven first then finishing them in a smokey grill. This July 4th (Independence Day) I thought I would share my recipe, and the steps I take to make tender, fall-off-the-bone spare ribs.

Number of people: 4 (some leftovers)
Time from start to finish: 6 hours

Menu
Barbecue spare ribs
Baked beans
Corn-on-the-cob
Watermelon

Ingredients
(Meat)
2 slabs (~6 lbs) of St. Louis cut spare ribs

(Brine)
1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon per pound of ribs)

(Rub)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

Dry Brine
Wash off the ribs, take off the membrane, and coat them with a thin layer of kosher salt; use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. While the ribs are brining, mix the rub ingredients together.

Bake
StartInOvenAfter an hour of brining, apply the rub and put the ribs in a 250 F oven uncovered, bone-side down, for 2 hours.

Take the ribs out, brush them with barbecue sauce, wrap them in aluminum foil, and put them back in the oven for another 2 hours.

Now take the ribs out, carefully unwrap them, and check if the bones pull away from the meat. If not, wrap them up, put them in the oven, and come back and check on them again in 15 minutes. When the bones start to slide they’re ready for the Finish.

Finish
FinishInGrillYou can finish them under the broiler in the oven or in a covered grill (outside). If you want to finish them in the oven, paint them with barbecue sauce, lay them in a baking pan, bones down, uncovered, about 6 inches from the broiler for 10 minutes. Take them out and let them rest a minute – check their internal temperature (160 F). If they need more time, put them back under the broiler for 5 minutes and check them again. I would say have them under the broiler no more then 20 minutes.

If you want to finish them with a smokey grill, prepare the grill for indirect heat. When the temperature stabilizes (no flames with charcoal) place wood chips on the coals. Place the ribs on the opposite side the grill from the coals. Smoke the ribs for at least 15 minutes (YMMV). Check internal temperature (160 F) or pull on the bones. If they need more time, put them back on the “cool” side of the grill and close the lid. Check them again in 5 minutes. I would say have them under the broiler no more then 20 minutes.

Quick Beef Stew

Hormel_Beef_Roast

Ingredients:

1 package (15oz) of Hormel Beef Roast Au Jus
12 small potatoes (or 4 cubed regular size potatoes)
1 or 2 stalk celery chopped
15 oz can carrots

Directions:

Start by boiling the potatoes until almost fork tender.
Add carrots and celery, and continue to boil until carrots and celery are soft.
Turn down heat to simmer and add beef.
Cook stew until beef is good and warm.

Chris’ Kickin’ Chili

Ingredients

1 lbs ground beef
1 lbs ground pork
1 white onion
1 green bell pepper
2 cans of light red kidney beans (15 oz can)
3 cans of tomato sauce (8 oz can)
2 cans of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz can)
2 cups water

Spices

Add spices to taste. I add them in diminishing amounts in this order:
chili powder
cumin powder
garlic powder
onion powder
crushed red pepper
black pepper
salt

Directions

Dice bell pepper and onion.
Drain and wash kidney beans.
Saute meat in a pan until brown. Add dash of salt and black peppers  as meat cooks.
Combine meat, water, cans of tomato sauce, bell peppers, and onions in large pot. Heat to boil.
Turn down heat to simmer, and add diced tomatoes. Add seasoning to taste.
Let simmer until flavors are blended. Add more water if needed.

Ottoman Feast

I wanted Middle Eastern food so here’s the menu I came up with: Shish Kabob with Tzatziki Sauce, Baba Ganoush and Tabbouleh. Chopping and prep takes a while, but the results are awesome.

Ingredients

Shish Kabob Marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Kabobs:
top-round beef
green peppers
onions
(sautéed mushrooms on the side)

Baba Ganoush:
1 large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup kalamata olives

Tabbouleh
1 cup bulghur wheat or couscous
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tzatziki Sauce
1 medium peeled or unpeeled cucumber
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (from 6-oz container)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

Instructions

Shish Kabobs

shish-kabobThese are the easiest to make. Cut top-round beef into 2 inch cubes. For the Shish Kabob Marinade, mix ingredients together, let kabob meat marinate for at least 2 hours.

My pattern was green pepper, meat, onion, meat, green pepper. I got 4 pieces of meat on one skewer.

I cooked them on the grill for about 10 minutes – flipping them over at 5 minutes – then I put the whole lot in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Baba Ganoush

baba-ganoushIt is tricky to cook eggplant just right so that it is soft, fully cooked, and not spongy. I had to play with it a little to get the right consistency. After cooking in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes I put the uncooked pieces into the microwave to soften them up.

Remove eggplant from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin. Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

I think I used 3/4 cup of tahini and quite a bit of salt to balance out the lemon. In the end it came out a little chunky, but it tasted fresh and good.

Tabbouleh

tabboulehThis recipe is the most time consuming: I cut the green onion, parsley and mint with kitchen sheers.

Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.

This recipe taught me a new technique to make fine-chopped cucumber: cut cucumber in half, quarter halves length wise, cut out the seed patches, slice the pieces length wise (2 or 3 slices), then chop the slices (perpendicular) into small pieces.

Tzatziki Sauce

Mix ingredients together and season to taste. I added celery salt and dill and dash of sugar (the celery salt was too spicy).

 

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour for coating
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 pounds chicken tendors, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups fresh mushrooms, quartered
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake the chicken pieces in flour until coated. Heat the oil in a large skillet (one that has a cover/lid). Fry the chicken pieces until they are browned on both sides. Remove from skillet.

Chicken Cacciatore

Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until the onion is slightly browned. Return the chicken to the skillet and add the tomatoes, oregano and wine. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium low heat.

Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Inspiration: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-chicken-cacciatore/

Chicken Puff Pastry With Asparagus

Number of people: 5
Time from start to finish: 1.5 hours

Menu:
Chicken Puff Pastry
Asparagus

1 Rotisserie chicken, about 2 cups deboned
1 8 oz container of cream cheese (room temperature)
2 stalks of celery
1 small white onion
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg white
2 tbsp butter
2 pounds asparagus

Lay out 2 sheets of puff pastry to defrost on a lightly floured cookie sheet or counter (takes about 40 minutes). Diced celery and onions, then sauté in a small skillet with the butter until the celery is soft. Debone the chicken (you could also use leftover chicken, or fried chicken) and cut into bite size pieces.

Heat oven to 400⁰ F. In a medium sized bowl, mix the chicken, cream cheese, softened onions and celery until well incorporated. Unroll and stretch out 1 sheet of puff pastry on a cookie sheet that has be lightly sprayed with non-stick spray until the pastry covers most of the pan. Starting in the middle, place the chicken mixture on top of the puff pastry sheet and, with a spoon, spread out the mixture until the chicken covers all but about 1/2 inch of the sheet.

Place the second sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface (I used a second cookie sheet) and stretch or roll it to almost the same size as the first sheet. Once stretched, place the second sheet on top of the first sheet and chicken mixture. With a pastry brush, use the egg whites to lightly moisten the edges of the puff pastry. Once all the edges have been moistened, crimp and fold the edges up so that the pastry makes a sealed pocket (it will look like a pillow). You can use a fork around the sides to help the pastry join together like you would with a pie crust. Brush the top of puff pastry lightly with the egg whites. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

For the asparagus, I cut off about an inch off the bottom to remove the woody/dry part. I then steamed the asparagus in a large skillet with about an inch of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes or until desired tenderness and added 2 tbsp. of butter.

Nachos con carne

Number of people: 5
Time from start to finish: 30 minutes

Menu:
Nachos

2 pounds ground hamburger meat
2 packets taco seasoning (we use mild)
Shredded lettuce
Diced fresh tomatoes (I use Romas)
Shredded cheese (we use colby jack)
1 can re-fried beans
1 16 ounce tub sour cream
Green onions (2 – 3 stalks), cut into about ¼ inch pieces, green and white parts
Tortillas chips

Brown the hamburger meat, then drain. Return to the skillet and add the taco seasoning plus the water required in the directions (the brand we used required ¾ cup each, so we used 1 ½ cups of water). You can heat up the re-fried beans in a bowl in the microwave, or in a pan on the stove.

While the meat is cooking, use the time to dice the tomatoes and cut the green onions (I use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the onions).

Once the meat is cooked, the beans are heated, and the veggies diced, just put a hand-full (or two) of chips on your plate and add the toppings. My husband came up with the idea of adding the meat first, then the cheese and microwaving it for 1 minutes. Surprisingly, the chips stayed crisp and the cheese melted nicely.

Baked Boneless Pork Chops

Number of people: 5
Time from start to finish: about 1.5 hours

Menu:
Baked Boneless Pork Chops
2 packages of Kraft Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese
1.5 pounds of frozen broccoli

I got this recipe from Cooks.com and tweaked it a bit:

Baked Boneless Pork Chops

½  cup all-purpose flour – divided into ¼ cups
2 tsp. paprika
1 ½  tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 lbs. boneless pork chops
½  cup. butter
1 minced small onion
1 can (4 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained
2 cup. milk
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix ¼ cup flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge chops lightly in mixture. Brown chops on both sides in butter.

Transfer to shallow baking dish. Add onion and mushrooms to skillet. Cook until onion is soft and golden.

Stir in remaining 1/4 cup flour. Slowly and little by little, whisk in the milk, stirring constantly and cook until sauce is smooth and thickened. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice. Pour sauce over chops.

Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven 350°F for 1 hour.

For the macaroni and cheese, I just followed the directions, except we left the breadcrumbs off (my daughter dislikes them). Just remember when you are adding the milk to the seasoning mix, use a whisk and add the milk a little at a time. To me it was just like making a roux.

The broccoli was boiled in lightly salted water, about 1 cup, lid on, until tender.

KFC Bowls

Number of people: 5
Time from start to finish: about 1 hour

Menu:
Tyson Chicken Breast Tenders
Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
Pioneer Biscuit Gravy
Canned Whole Corn
Mashed Potatoes

First I peeled and diced the potatoes, about 8 of them. I used 3 different types (red, gold, and russet) because I needed to use them before they went bad. I suggest using 2 types of potatoes, one that’s starchy (like a russet) and one that has less starch (like a red or gold) because it gives you a creamier taste and texture. Also, while dicing the potatoes, I try to make sure I have a few pieces of russet that are a little larger than the others, this will give you those yummy lumps.

I boiled the potatoes in salted water that was about ½ an inch above the potatoes until they were fork tender. I then set the potatoes aside, still in the water, while I put the chicken tenders in the oven.

Next I started the gravy. Since I was using 2 packets, I used 3 cups of water on the stove, and 1 ½ cups of water to mix the gravy powder with. The directions only call for ½ a cup of water to mix the gravy powder with per packet, but I’ve found that it comes out a little to thick, so I use ¾ a cup per packet instead. While waiting for the water to boil for the gravy, I opened 2 cans of corn and emptied them into a plastic bowl for the microwave. Once the water was boiling, I poured in the gravy/water mixture and stirred with a whisk until the gravy came to a boil. I then set the gravy aside.

Since the chicken was close to being ready, I drained the potatoes, returned them to the pot, added ½ a stick (¼ cup) butter and about ¼ to ½ a cup of milk. I used a hand mixer on low until the milk and butter were incorporated into the potatoes, but not so much so that I didn’t have lumps. If you prefer a smoother mashed potato, just add a little more milk and continue to mix until they are smooth. Just be careful not to over beat your potatoes, otherwise they become gummy.

Now it was time to remove the chicken from the oven and get out the shredded cheese. The kids and I like to start with the potatoes, then add the corn, chicken, gravy and shredded cheese on top (sort of like KFC bowls).

Velveeta Cheesy Skillets Nacho Supreme

Number of people: 5
Time from start to finish: 37 minutes

Menu:
Velveeta Cheesy Skillets Nacho Supreme

I used 1 lb of hamburger meat and 1 lb of ground turkey and 2 boxes of the Cheesy Skillets.
I prepared according to package directions, only I used ½ cup additional water.
Served with sour cream and shredded cheddar jack cheese.

I didn’t really plan out this evenings meal very well when I went shopping last week, normally I would serve this with a lettuce and tomato salad.

Tips:

When browning the meats, add a bit of water (½  to 1 cup) to help with breaking the meat up. The water also makes it easier to drain the meat.