Sunday, April 12, 2015

Recipe: Oven Roasted Baby Back Ribs

Ordering ribs at restaurants is always a hit-or-miss ordeal. You hope that your ribs are delicious, succulent, and tender, but they usually come out dry, burnt, and dwarf sized. Those ribs are probably microwaved unless you went to a legitimate BBQ place so save yourself the money and trouble and make a rack of ribs at home for about $10.

A small disclaimer: These ribs are NOT barbeque ribs. They are NOT smoked with charcoal and natural wood. These are oven roasted ribs. But they are amazingly juicy, delicious, and incredibly fun to make and eat!

1 Rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs
Dry Rub of Your Choice
Sauce of Your Choice
1/4 Cup of Water, Apple Juice, or Stock

-Use St. Louis spare ribs if you can get your hands on them. They are much meatier, just as tender, and cheaper to buy!
-If you have a grill, I highly suggest you finish the ribs off with it after unwrapping. The high heat produced can help reverse-sear the meat and caramelize your sauce!
-Don't have all the spices and ingredients needed for home made sauce and rub? Salt, pepper and store brand BBQ sauce will do just fine! 

The Preparation
Carefully rinse the slab of meat with water, removing bits of bone and blood left on during the butchering process. The ribs will have a gritty feel to them before cleaning them up properly.

Next up, remove the silver skin membrane! Start by inserting the blunt end of a spoon in between the membrane and flesh. Proceed to rip off the membrane and clean up any remaining pieces left.

Finally, be sure to pat them dry! This is crucial for our mustard spread to stick in the next seasoning step!

Seasoning The Meat
Spread a 50/50 mixture of mustard and olive oil onto the ribs. This helps add flavor and moisture to the surface of the ribs.

Season the the ribs, top and bottom, liberally with your dry rub and salt! Be sure to do these steps separately so you can properly gauge how much salt you're really adding in.

I took this picture here halfway thru the seasoning process to show you what I meant by being able to see the amount of salt you're using. If using Kosher or coarse grain salt, they are easily visible and help gauge the amount of seasoning that you're adding.

The Wrap
Wrap up your ribs in foil in such a way that you're folding a boat shaped banana.

Add 1/4 cup of braising liquid: water, broth, or apple juice all work perfectly well. Seal the foil tightly, place on any oven baking pans or trays and cook for 1 hr 30 mins at 350 °F.

You can be sure that the ribs are done cooking when the meat pulls away from the bone and shrinks as shown here.

The Layering Of Sauce
To create a perfect coating of caramelized sauce, we must add the sauce in layers. Remove your ribs from the foil and place on a baking tray. Spread a thin layer of sauce over your ribs. Set your oven to the highest temperature or on high broil. Bake the ribs and do not take your eyes off them! The high heat can easily burn the sugars in BBQ sauce.

First layer of sauce shown above. Take note at the pale color development.

After many layers of saucing and baking, your ribs will develop a delicious color and a thick glazed BBQ sauce on the surface. Due to ovens having uneven heat, you will never achieve a perfect caramelized crust. If you have the time to put these ribs on a grill instead, the results will be many times better!

The only thing left to do is the cut the ribs and serve! Happy eating everyone!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Recipe: Justin's Kitchen Specialty BBQ Sauce

Making BBQ sauce is not easy. For the past two years, I've been tweaking and improving my BBQ sauce with every time that I make it. I've made all the possible mistakes and I definitely still have room to improve. That being said, I am also immensely proud of this sauce!

For some history, I originally planned my BBQ sauce to be free of region-specific traditions. For example, Kansas City BBQ is generally very sweet and candy like. The Carolinas have a vinegar based mop sauce and in Memphis, they forgo sauce all together and use only dry rub! Well, here in Los Angeles, I can do whatever I want. I've taken inspiration from all of the areas and put them together.

1/2 Smoked Onion
1/2 Smoked Apple
2 cloves Garlic
1-2 tbsp of my special Dry Rub
1 Guajillo Chili Pepper
1 Ancho Chili Pepper
1-2 Bay Leaves
Hot Chili Flakes
1 tbsp Chicken Bouillon Powder
Wet Ingredients
2 tbsp A1 Steak Sauce
2 tbsp Ketchup (without High-Fructose Corn Syrup)
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
3-4 tbsp Maple Syrup
1-3 tbsp Brown Sugar
3 cups water
1 splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
Thickening Agent
1 heaping tbsp of rice

-If you don't have access to a smoker, use a regular onion and apple instead, but add in a splash of bourbon whiskey!
-Play around with the flavors and taste! Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 30 minutes before adjusting the final flavors.

-Use that liquid smoke bullshit. I mean, what is that?!

The Onions and Apples
One of the very first inspirations I had when making BBQ sauce came from making Japanese curry. To help achieve a sweet and light taste, apples are grated into curry. It helps to add a refreshing flavor in the background, but makes an incredible difference.

I begin by smoking the onions and apples in my smoker using a mix of cherry and apple wood. By doing this, I can naturally impart smokey flavors into the sauce. Do NOT use liquid smoke as a substitute. There's all sorts of who knows what in that bottle.

Simply chop up your onions and apples (or grate in the apples) to a pot and stir fry with olive oil and 2 tbsp of your dry rub mixture. The reasoning behind using the dry rub in the BBQ sauce is to unite the flavors of meat and sauce. Sure, that might sound like a load of made up fluff, but I love the way it makes my smoked ribs taste and I shall stand by it proudly.

The Aromatics
After sweating the apples and onions, add the rest of the dry aromatic ingredients. Stir frying the ingredients in this step helps any oil soluble flavors to be extracted from the seasonings (said by someone somewhere...).

The Wet Ingredients
Add 3 cups of water to start, and all of the wet ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

If you don't have a smoker (most people don't), try using bourbon whiskey instead! I would not recommend using both smoked ingredients and whiskey, for I feel that may be too many competing flavors.

Adding Rice And Blending
The addition of rice is a very recent development in my sauce. Taking inspiration from making tomato bisque, the addition of rice allows for the thickening of the sauce without changing the taste, shelf-life, or cooking process! A corn starch slurry will eventually break down if kept overnight. Flour needs to be cooked and turned into a rue before using. Too much reduction will result in an overly salty or sweet sauce.

I add my rice after the initial 30 minutes of simmering. Allow the rice to fully cook and become saturated with liquid. After doing the final taste test and adjusting water levels, I remove the bay leaves from the pot and blend the sauce. I use an emulsion blender, but any house hold blender will work!

The final consistency of the sauce should allow it to coat the back of a spoon as shown above.

After much thought, I have finally decided to share my recipe with everyone and to anyone who wishes to learn it. It is surely a lot of work for just sauce, but for anyone who has tasted it, you know just how amazing it is.

There are no added preservatives (only the ones already included in the products used), no xanthum gum thickening agents, no food coloring, and none of those mystery ingredients listed in other store brand BBQ sauces. This is as good as it gets, until I discover something new to change about it and improve it further!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Recipe: Justin's Kitchen Secret Dry Rub

The secrets out! I'm going to share my secret dry rub that I use for all of my barbeque, smoked ribs, and pulled pork!

I originally created this with some inspiration from Amazing Rib's Memphis Dust. Although I don't use as thick of a coating as I would need for Memphis styled BBQ, I do believe that the variety of herbs and spices help create a very fragrant and savory bark when smoked or roasted. I recommend using the core ingredients listed below every single time, but the variants are for everyone's own tastes to decide for.

Core Ingredients:
2 parts Brown Sugar
1 part Black Pepper
1 part White Pepper
1 part Smoked Paprika
1 part Chili Powder
1 part Onion Powder
1 part Garlic Powder
1/2 part Cayenne Pepper
1/2 part Oregano

Variable Ingredients:
1/2 part Ground Mustard
1/2 part Ground Cumin
1/2 part Ground Coriander Seeds
1/2 part Ground Nutmeg
1/2 part Ground All Spice
1/2 part Ground Ginger

-Salt your meat separately from the dry rub. This allows you to fully control how much salt you use and avoid double salting your meals, especially if you plan to use barbeque sauce.
-I use all of the variable ingredients with the core ingredients combined, but depending on what I am cooking, I may choose to change some ingredients. For example, I would exchange out ginger for sage or fennel.
-Try grinding your own spices! I keep my cumin, coriander, all spice, and nutmeg as whole grains. I also have mustard seeds and fennel whole too, but I don't use them as often.
-Make a little extra to make your BBQ sauce also!

-This is not an all purpose dry rub! I use this dry rub specifically for barbeque and smoking ribs and the sort. Don't use this rub for pan-searing chicken for a normal day's dinner.
-Store the rub for too long. Many of the spices are volatile and lose their potency with time.