The Fourth of July, why do I love thee?
Is it the smell of charcoal and starter fluid?
Maybe, it's Lisa's American flag banana cake with whipped cream, blueberries and strawberries.
The wish of someone, anyone, bringing a clutch of deviled eggs in an antiquated, covered Tupperware container.
I wait with great anticipation for a potato salad. Will it be creamy, mustard-based, have relish, cooked egg or garnished with parsley and paprika? Will the potatoes be russets, reds or yukons? It's maddening, really, like waiting for Christmas morning as a ten-year old.
Side-dishes, I love the individual sides. We ask folks to bring something that they do BEST, doesn't matter; starch, veggie or fruit. The only caveat is that it is home-made. Course, you have to 'ooh and ahhh' upon presentation of each dish as it gets placed on the buffet table.
What vessel displays each creation? A family piece, something trendy or is it recipe specific?
Fourth of July allows us to be completely sentimental, patriotic dopes.
That's what I like.
Wrap your wardrobe, food and decor in Red, White and Blue, put on the Marching Band CD, and all is well in the U.S. of A.
At least on Tiara Drive in Milwaukie, Oregon.
Pork Ribs over Mesquite Charcoal
This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It takes time, observation, yet yields kudos for the patient cook. Pork ribs over charcoal for three hours make the 10 hour drive from California a little more palatable for nieces and nephews. This is for Jackie, Clarabella and Shash.
1/4 C Pepper, ground
1/4 C Paprika
1T Allspice, ground
1T Coriander, ground
1T Garlic, granulated
Combine all ingredients and shake well to blend in a gallon ziploc bag.
Pour into a 'dredge'; one of those big metal or plastic shaker-things.
3 racks Pork Spare Ribs, cut in half and rubbed liberally with the Spice Blend. Let them set for at least a couple of hours before putting on the grill.
In your Weber dome or whatever, build a charcoal fire with mesquite charcoal. Find it, it's the best. Locally, I get it at my United Grocers/Cash and Carry supply store. Once the stack of flame is gone completely white, knock it down and spread the coals evenly. The grill should be at least 6 inches above the coals and preferably more. The closer you get, the meat can scorch.
The layer of coals should cover 1/2 to 2/3 of the area under your grill.
You don't need wall-to-wall coal coverage. A little heat goes a long way.
Place the racks of ribs, bone-side down, on the grill and cover. You must have a cover with venting for this to work. You want smoke to come out of the Weber at the top with air intake venting in from below.
The first 30 minutes are crucial. Listen for the 'pst-pst' of grease creating flames in the smoker; we want to spritz this with a water bottle to keep the flames down. 'Spritz' not 'Soak.'
You will notice three levels in the cooking process:
1) The racks will begin to pool liquid on top. The meat is 'sweating.'
2) The racks will then begin to 'cup.' Hold your hand out, palm down. Gently begin to bring your fingers in. That 'cupping' is what the racks will do on the 'bone-side.' Turn them over.
3) Cook racks until the meat recedes from the tips of the ribs. Once the tips are visible, the racks should be done. This takes at least 3 hours when done correctly.
Ribs get better with age, so, when you pull them off, let them rest for 20 minutes or so, to cut them. Once cut, layer them in a container with a drizzle of your favorite sauce. Cover with foil and let them steam. This makes good ribs really outstanding; the meat just falls off the bone.
Happy Fourth of July and if you're in the neighborhood, drop in for a rib!
Take care God bless and remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends,
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things!"