Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ribs Like Mom Used to Make

May 4, 2013

Grilled Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Broccoli Salad
White Sweet Corn
Crudité: jicama, celery, Nantes carrots
Newman's Own Virgin Lemonade
Vella Merlot
Strawberries with Angel Food Cake

Grilled Glazed Baby Back Ribs from Cook's Illustrated
Broccoli Salad from Dena

I don't recall my mom serving ribs until after I had grown up and moved away from home. While visiting one summer (we live in California and most of my family is in New York) my mom made ribs for one of her famous backyard picnics. Before having my dad cook them on the grill, she parboiled them to speed up the cooking time and to ensure they were cooked through. It would seem that the Test Kitchen is on to my mom's trick as they published a recipe using this same technique in their most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated.

This does indeed provide a fast way to cook ribs. The recipe was for baby back ribs, but I was unable to find any in the two markets I checked. The closest I could get was a frozen slab of "extra meaty pork loin back ribs", baby back ribs but with more meat on them. The ribs took only an hour or so to prepare, much less time than traditional barbecued ribs that cook low and slow, with smoke, for many hours. Without this process, these ribs did not have a smoky flavor, but they were cooked to perfection, tender but still requiring a little effort to pull the meat off of the bones. The lime sauce was interesting, more tart and less sweet than tomato-based sauces and not as sour as the vinegar-rich North Carolina style barbecue sauces. The Test Kitchen included recipes for two other sauces and also indicated you could use a supermarket sauce.

To accompany the ribs we had other fresh, summery dishes. We've had white sweet corn a few times this year. For so early in the season it is reasonably priced and, unlike many other years, quite good. I made a broccoli salad made using a recipe from my sister Dena which was included in a collection of family recipes we assembled a few years ago. I'm not a big fan of broccoli, but it's OK and I'll eat it when it is served to me. This salad may be my favorite way to eat it. Broccoli is mixed with cheese and bacon then mixed with a sweet dressing.  While making this I considered some modifications to the recipe but didn't use any of them: replace the distilled vinegar with a red wine vinegar, using honey instead of sugar to provide the sweetness, or fresh instead of packaged mozzarella.

It wasn't planned, but everything in this meal was sweet, it seemed. The tart, citrus-glazed ribs, fresh vegetables, sweet corn, and broccoli salad with its sweet dressing. I even had lemonade to drink with the meal while Diane had wine. We ate out on the deck as we do during the warmer months when it is light outside at dinner time. Who says you have to pack up your food and go to a park when you want to have a picnic?

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