Thursday, August 05, 2010
Tomato-free BBQ, yes it's possible!
As a confirmed carnivore, fried chicken and BBQ are my favorite summertime proteins. And if you don't know, there are so many styles of barbecue in the south (Memphis, North Carolina, Texas, it goes on and on) that you can actually get into a fistfight there if you ever are thoughtless enough to insult someone's barbecue -- which is usually someone's mama's recipe. But since I discovered that I am allergic to chicken, I am now forced to eat only within the BBQ genre. And since I am also tomato-free, I can no longer rely on the standard American tomato-based barbecue sauce.
Enter the dry rub.
My first encounter with the dry rub technique of barbecue was in Santa Maria, California, which is renowned for their dry rub barbecue over maple, usually a tri-tip. (Dry rub is just what it sounds like -- a combination of dried spices, usually including salt, rubbed onto the meat for flavor ahead of time, then thrown on the grill as usual.) I of course ordered pork baby back ribs because dangit, I just love them so. It was at an old-school place called Shaw's, where they served retro relish plates sporting olives and celery sticks, and iceberg lettuce salad with bottled bleu cheese dressing. All of which I completely ignored because my ribs were OUT of this world. I had ordered a full rack with the intention of eating half and saving some for later, but ended up wolfing down the entire rack in one sitting! I was in so much pain afterwards that I was forced to lie down in the car on the way home, with my jeans secretly unzipped, trying not to complain. My very skinny friend who brought me there looked on with amusement and slight horror. However, I was hooked on dry rubs ever since.
The best two things about dry rubs are that (1) they are completely flexible, you can change ingredients to suit your tastes, and (2) they taste great on their own, or if you MUST add a wet barbecue sauce, you can! How great is that?
Here's my favorite dry rub for pork ribs right now. Sweet, salty and the ancho gives it some depth, much better than paprika. If it's not warm enough to throw on the grill outside, you can do it inside the oven as well.
Kansas City style Ancho dry rub for pork
Enough for 2 racks of baby back ribs
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. ancho chili powder
1 Tb. fresh ground pepper
1 Tb. kosher salt
1 Tb. each of garlic or onion powder, I use 2 Tb. all onion powder since I can't have garlic
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix all dry ingredients together until well blended. I put mine in a jar and shake it, then keep the excess until next time. (Note: for food safety reasons, don't reuse rub once it's touched meat, only keep what doesn't get sprinkled on.)
Wash and dry the ribs.
Sprinkle and press dry rub equally on both sides of the ribs until thickly coated and evenly covered.
If using the oven, bake on foil in a preheated oven at 250F for 2 1/2 to three hours, turning once or twice.
If using the grill, smoke on low heat 275-325F for about 2 hours turning once or twice.
Low and slow keeps the meat moist and tender. You can cover the ribs with foil if it starts to burn prematurely.
If you like, you can throw the ribs under a broiler for a few minutes until the brown sugar bubbles right before serving. You get a little burnt, a little extra crunch for extra taste. Yum!