In our September meat CSA haul, we got a slab of ribs. A modest, dare I say small, slab. But ribs are ribs, which means they thrill me no matter what (getting Pork 3 Ways at Craigie on Main is to me one of the world's best ideas, and one of the ways is a rib - that's right, ONE RIB, but I'm not even complaining because that one rib is SO INCREDIBLY GOOD). So since it was October and our next meat pick up was imminent, we decided to eat those ribs. But it's too cold for barbecue. The internet confirmed my suspicion that I could make darn good ribs in my oven (low and slow being the name of the game). We had a lot of apples around, so I decided to use them to make some BBQ sauce from scratch (so easy and so worth it, even for vegetarians, to whom I offer the idea of putting homemade BBQ sauce on veggie burgers, with cole slaw if you have it!). I'll tell you my ribs and sauce methods, and just link to some of the other things I made, to try to keep the size of this post somewhat under control - caramelized onion and goat cheese cornbread (I didn't have any fresh corn kernels and mine turned out very differently from hers, though still very delicious), and clementine almond cake, both from smitten kitchen.
-you'll need a spice rub - any one will do, use your favorite. It should feature things like salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, maybe cayenne, maybe cumin, maybe garlic or onion powder.
-a rack or two of ribs (I wish we'd had two!)
-A sheet pan with a cooling rack that will fit inside of it and go in the oven without a problem
-BBQ sauce (see below for a recipe, or any one you like or have around is great)
For easy cleanup later, line the bottom of your sheet pan with foil, then put the cooling rack on top of the foil. Lay the rack of ribs on the cookling rack. Rub it all over quite thoroughly with your spice rub. I probably used about 1/4 cup total for one modest rack. Don't be shy with the rub, you want to coat all visible meat, basically. Cover, and leave to flavor up. I left it for about an hour and a half at room temperature. If you wanted to let it go longer, put it in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 250. Put in the ribs, and leave em! 2 1/2 hours. Paint on a little BBQ sauce, and leave for another 1/2 hour. Take them out and cover them with foil, and prepare anything else you want to put on the plate - that's when I made the cornbread and the clementine cake (photo of this at the end), which both needed higher oven temperatures). When those came out, I upped the temperature on the oven even farther to 400, spooned a little more BBQ sauce onto those ribs, and put them back in the oven for another 1/2 hour, to warm back up and brown a little more, at which time they are ready to cut up and eat, and you will wish you had a whole rack to yourself.
That last half hour with the ribs in the oven gave us the right amount of time for Jenean to bread and me to fry some green tomatoes our dad gave us (thanks Da!) - which I forgot to mention before! It is easy to do, you just slice green tomatoes just shy of 1/2 inch thick,
then set up 3 plates: in #1, put flour heavily seasoned with at least salt and pepper, maybe garlic powder, in #2, 2 eggs well beaten with salt and a little water, and in #3 breadcrumbs, preferably panko, but any kind of dry breadcrumbs are ok. Then you just go 1, 2, 3, coating completely in each one, then fry in a large, flat bottomed very hot pan with plenty of oil - canola or olive or peanut oil are good; drain on paper towels and sprinkle with coarse salt while they're still piping hot).
Meanwhile we boiled up the last of the CSA potatoes and Jenean mashed them with some Roquefort butter she made, SERIOUSLY. I die.
Quick Apple Maple BBQ sauce:
1/2 onion, finely minced
2 small apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1 smashed garlic clove (optional)
1 1/2 cups ketchup
salt and pepper
(last 5 entirely to taste)
In a heavy bottomed small saucepan, fry the onions over medium heat in a little oil until soft and translucent. Add the apples and the garlic clove
and let them cook (sprinkle in a little salt to help them start releasing their juices) till they start to break down and look a little like applesauce. It helps to put the lid on for a while, and keep the heat medium to low. When they're soft, use a potato masher or a big spoon to smash up the apple chunks into smaller bits, but it's ok for it to still be pretty chunky. Turn up the heat to high, and add the cider vinegar, about 2 tablespoons, and let it boil a little. Then add the ketchup, some maple syrup (a couple glugs), brown sugar (a tablespoon or two), and a squirt of some nice brown mustard, if you want. Stir it all together and check for seasoning. You might like a splash or two of worcestershire sauce in there. It won't be great until you bring it to the boil and let it simmer, turned down to low, for at least 15 minutes. Cover it and stir it often, you don't want it to reduce too much, or scorch on the bottom.
Dessert was the clementine almond cake (not everything I dreamed of, but good) with a little cordial glass of Amaretto liqueur, a gift from our friends Reba and Jay, and it is pretty much the most delicious liquid you'll ever drink, ever. Love and thanks, Reba and Jay! And a shout-out to Eve for the adorable dessert plates.