Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Friday Dinner: Barbecued Country-Style Boneless Pork Ribs + Al Bergez's Sauce

I wrapped-up some of the warmed-up leftovers and sauce in a slightly crisped 4" corn tortilla for lunch.

(Another catch-up post) Back in early May, I was (as I am quite frequently) at my best friend and cooking partner-in-crime's (a/k/a Lynn) house for dinner. We barbecued country-style boneless pork ribs. No biggie, except... EXCEPT... we were done before dark - which is a giant improvement and the ribs were especially good. Her method for prepping the pork resulted in very, very good barbecue.

I acquired one of these for each of us earlier this year. Many a night we have barbecued well after dark, with one of us holding a flashlight. The ones I bought were through woot.com, but you can get your own here. They are fantastic. The light can be adjusted so that (in our case) what you're cooking, or checking on is brightly lit and you have both hands free.

...and no, there shall be no pictures.

One note - it's a really bright light and you need to be careful not to temporarily blind your cooking partner by looking up too quickly.

She made, not for the first time, a very good sauce, by way of Mike's friend Al Bergez. It's on the vinegar-y/tangy side (which we all like). I'm pretty happy with any kind of sauce or mop, except the mayonnaise-based sauces which I find to be kinda nasty. This sauce isn't hot (but it could be made hotter) or too sweet.

We had a problem keeping a consistent temperature - definitely user error. Sometimes our barbecue temperature control mojo is very strong - but not that night. Our overall karma came through like gangbusters though because when we were going to take the pork off to finish it in the oven, we found that it was done perfectly. This recipe/method requires some time before you fire up the coals (or turn on the gas) and I'm convinced it that the pork was even better than usual because of the order in which Lynn prepared it prior to grilling it.

Recipe: Barbecued Country Style Boneless Pork Ribs + Al Bergez's Sauce

I'm guessing this could serve 6-8 people
 - wood charcoal (mesquite, alder, hickory)
 - we used a 28" diameter Weber kettle grill
 - a barbecue thermometer to monitor the temperature of the barbecue 'oven'.
  • 6 lbs boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed and cut into 3"x2"x6" chunks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1-2 tablespoons of kosher salt
Mix the brown sugar and the kosher salt. Lay the pork ribs out on a baking sheet or platter and rub each on all sides, as well as the nooks-and-crannies with the sugar/salt mixture. Let these sit for an hour before applying the following:

Mix together (it will be a rather dry paste):
  • 4 very large cloves (or 6 regular cloves) of garlic, mashed into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
Slather this paste all over the ribs and let them sit covered, in the fridge for at least four hours and up to 8. Take the ribs out no less then an hour before you plan to start cooking them, leaving them covered while they come up to temp.

This two-step method is (I'm pretty sure) what made this extra-good. When you take a bite, you get a slightly sweet, caramelized taste and then the flavors from the paste come through separately - and porky goodness abounds.

Prepare the Barbecue
You want enough coals or wood charcoal - we used mesquite - to cover about 1/2 the grill + a few big chunks.  Make sure you have more to add on if your temperature drops. When the wood is ashy on the outside but you can see glowing red under the ash, spread the coals over one-half of the bottom of the grill. We didn't do this last Friday, but we have done so in the past - pour 1/2 bottle of beer (a good beer mind you, like Anchor Steam) in a foil tray and set on the bottom of the grill, opposite the coals. You made need to replenish this 1/2 way through (I don't have to tell you do drink the other half, do I? No? Good.)

This is a good time to espouse the benefits of a barbecue thermometer to keep track of the heat of your 'oven'. You want to cook this meat between 250 and 325 F (the lower the temp, the longer your cook time) but we were looking for about a 3-hour cook time. You can buy inexpensive barbecue thermometers pretty easily.

Clean off the grill and lightly brush it with a little canola oil on a paper towel (Do I need to remind you to hold this oil-soaked paper towel with a pair of tongs? No? Good.). Lay the pork ribs on the side of the grill opposite the heat and over the pan o'beer. Cover the grill, positioning the holes (open) over the side with meat to draw the heat over it. Open the bottom vent about 3/4 of the way.

Your starting temperature should be between 275 and 300 F. Monitor this and adjust your vents or add some more fuel if necessary. When the meat is done, it shouldn't be fall-apart tender, but when you stick a fork in it and wiggle it around, you don't meet too much resistance.

It's probably a fine time to make the sauce, if you haven't already done so (see below).

now's the time to throw the ears of corn on the hot side and get some nice brown color all around. Not too long - you are grilling for color and to just barely cook the corn.

I like my sauce served on the side but your house/your rules so do what you want.

Al Bergez's Vinegar-y Barbecue Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic minced finely
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of A-1 Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2/3 cup tomato ketchup
Simmer for 20 minutes.


Cathy said...

We totally need to make this when you come up at the 4th of July. It looks delicious!

Cathy said...

Oh and... NERD!

Ms. Divina Loca said...

I'd love to make it and I don't care how nerdy I look, headband lamps are AWESOME!