Monday, June 14, 2010

Takin' It Slow

We try to make the most of summer: lots of golf, every dinner out on the patio with cooking on the grill, all weather permitting. Like most couples I know, the grill is the domain of the man of the house (yes, another of Dave’s domains)…well, OK, the prep is Michèle’s job but the grill is mine.

Most of our grill cooking is fast and furious. High heat, quick results. But I’ve wanted to try some more slow cooking out there. When I saw David Lee’s recipe for slow-cooked honey-garlic-rosemary ribs in the Globe last month, I knew I had my first full effort, including all the prep. The bonus is that Chef Lee (David Lee…you have to like that name) made the recipe grill-friendly.

The good news? Ribs are one of those foods that are quite awful if not cooked properly. But when cooked well, they are wonderful. These ribs were real...and they were [almost] spectacular.

But I can still do better. For us, the recipe needed more garlic. And salt and pepper. (I still don't have enough experience as a cook that I automatically add salt and pepper. You must tell me this stuff.) I had a lot of trouble getting the apple wood chips to smoke sufficiently using a smoker box, but I got that figured out now. Just make sure you get the smoker box right on top of the flame source to get it smokin’. And you won't need four cups of wood chips.  Temperature is important for slow-cooking, so use a thermometer inside the grill; don’t rely on the temperature on the lid of the grill. (My lid thermometer showed a temperature that was a good 50 degrees higher than the reading inside the grill.)  It's easy to check the temperature when you turn the ribs every 20 minutes, and adjust as necessary. 

The other great thing about slow-cooking is that it’s a wonderful way to while away an afternoon. Cooking these ribs takes about 3 ½ hours, turning the ribs every 20 minutes. So puttering around the patio, catching up on my reading, it’s very relaxed. I’m hooked.

For the wine, I chose a Zinfandel, which I love with ribs. Black cherry and raspberry, cassis, bit of pepper and some chocolate. 15.5% ABV! But you’ve a few more options from the family of full-bodied reds: Tempranillo & Malbec (both Spain and Argentina have a culture of slow-cooked and grilled meat), Sangiovese, Syrah…these are all good choices. And with the rosemary in this recipe, you can go with something from Languedoc.

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