Monday, May 24, 2010

glazed and rubbed pork spareribs, coleslaw and smashed marble potatoes

This is a picture of my Grandpa Guyott, probably taken in the early seventies shortly after I was born. It's one of the very very few pictures I have of him, and I love it. He was very Catholic, very St. Louis and very much a local tavern proprietor, and he loved a lot of things - God, beer, braunschweiger, family, baseball and ribs... and not always in that order. I was only eleven when he died - I wish I'd known him better, I wish I'd appreciated him more. I wish I could taste his barbecue again!

So when I saw the recipe in Ad Hoc for Rubbed and Glazed Pork Spareribs, I was excited to tackle it immediately. But you can't just have ribs by themselves, can you? So I also made Smashed Marble Potatoes and Coleslaw. But that's an awful lot of food for just two people - so we invited a couple of friends over to taste test with us. Suckers.
These ribs are made using a dry rub - there's no sauce in sight here. With a Southern heritage (and a serious love of the barbecue I can get in Memphis and Kentucky) I greatly prefer dry rub barbecue - but I live in a city that loves its meat swimming in sauce. I made all of my taste-testers promise to try the ribs before they covered them in sauce (I put a bottle of Pappy's Smokehouse Sweet Baby Jane on the table).
The ribs were simple and not all that time consuming. Like most rib recipes (or at least the ones I prefer), you mix together a dry rub, put it on the ribs, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. Then you cook them on a grill for two hours over indirect heat (after first letting them spend a few minutes on the hot side to get a nice crosshatch grill pattern on them). The rubs ingredients are more or less the usual suspects: brown sugar, salt, sweet pimenton (smoked sweet spice similar to paprika), cayenne, garlic powder, allspice and red pepper flakes. It's a simple recipe and an easy preparation - and it was freaking delicious. Wait, wait, wait - I'm not supposed to tell you that already. On to the rest of the meal.
Next up - Coleslaw. First I had to make my own mayonnaise from the recipe out of the book, no problem. I'd never made my own mayonnaise before, but how hard could it be? Chef Keller said they do it in a food processor and it's really easy. Of course, "easy" for a French trained, consecutive James Beard (the Oscars of the food world) Best Chef Award winning, Culinary Institute of America Chef of the Year Award winning, God of All Things Culinary Chef... probably means something a little different than it does to me. Clearly.

Luckily I decided to make the mayo a few days ahead of time. So I had time to muck it up. I got out my cheapo food processor, turned it on and put four egg yolks in. And there they sat - at the bottom of the food processor with the metal blades whirring away happily above them. Uh, this isn't going to work. But hey! I have a mini-food chopper that will do the same thing! The day is saved!

Alas, not so much. I got it out and put the yolks in and they were happily mixing away when I realized that you can't add a slow stream of oil to a food chopper - there's no way to add anything because it has to have the lid on for the mechanism to be engaged and whir away. That's okay, I grew up on a farm - I'm used to improvising!

So I took the locking lid mechanism off, jammed a knife into the mechanism to make it think the lid was locked on, pushed the button and voila - it was working. But wait - I need to pour in a slow stream of oil now... but I have one hand holding the power button and one hand holding the knife into the mechanism... no more hands left. Okay, I can be MacGuyer/MacGrubber - I can do this. So now I'm holding the knife against the mechanism by leaning against it with my stomach, holding the power button with my left hand and pouring an excruciatingly slow stream of oil into the yolks... and... it's working! Yes, yes, yes! The oil is emulsifying with the yolks, it's turning into a thick and creamy substance. I'm so proud of myself. I rock. I knew I could do this.

It's been about an hour now because you wouldn't BELIEVE how long it takes to pour 2 cups of canola oil out in a thin thread. Both arms are cramping, my neck hurts and I'm starting to feel like the knife is turned backwards and is stabbing me in the stomach. But I'm so close, it's almost done - just 1/4 cup of oil to go and I will be the queen of the... what's that? What just happened? What the f*#$&( did the ^%@ just do??? Why is it suddenly all soupy now? IT BROKE? IT FREAKING BROKE? After over an hour and a half of mayonnaise making hell, it broke. It suddenly turned into this totally gross oily mess. I hate mayonnaise.

Clearly this means I need a new food processor. A pretty stainless steel Cuisinart model, right? Right. And Santa Claus won't be here for a while, so I hit Kohl's on my lunch break the next day and spent WAY too much on a new mayonnaise-making-machine. Homemade mayonnaise, take two. Starting all over. This time it will work perfectly - there's even a tiny hole in the bottom of the plunger SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR STREAMING OIL IN TO MAKE MAYONNAISE... how could I fail. Well, I'll tell you how - I don't freaking know how! I just did, okay - I did. I failed again. In the machine that was SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR STREAMING OIL IN TO MAKE MAYONNAISE. Seriously, why would you make your own mayonnaise when you have a perfectly good jar of Hellman's in the fridge? As I was lifting my brand new, way too expensive mayonnaise-making-machine over my head to hurl it out the window over the sink a thought popped into my head... oh yeah! I saw someone say you can save broken mayonnaise on Top Chef once. I'm back in business. I googled it, and it worked - I DID IT! I made homemade mayonnaise! I added the lemon juice and salt and tasted... and it tasted just like Hellman's to be honest. I didn't see a real big difference. Gee, that was worth it. There are a ton of pics of this mess, but I can't relive it. No pics for public.
Anyway, back to the coleslaw. After all that work I only needed a quarter of a cup of the homemade mayo... sigh. You make the dressing ahead of time and refrigerate it until just before serving, when you pour it over red cabbage, green cabbage and carrot. The dressing was simple - mayo, sour cream, champagne vinegar, celery seed, toasted sesame seeds, salt, lemon juice. Mix it up and stick it in the fridge and pour it over the cabbage mix just before serving (so that the purple cabbage doesn't tint the dressing).
And finally the Smashed Marble Potatoes. This one also required a little bit of prep ahead of time because it called for Garlic Confit, another recipe in the book. But this was five bajillion times easier than the mayonnaise-from-hell.
Put a cup of garlic cloves in a small sauce pan, drown in canola oil and cook at LOW temp for forty minutes. Easy Schmeasy.
For the potatoes themselves, I tossed them in salt and canola oil (I used the now garlic infused oil from the Garlic Confit) and a few sprigs of thyme - and put them in my large cast iron skilled with a few tablespoons of melted butter. Stuck it all in the oven for about half an hour until the potatoes were fork-tender. Remove from the oven, smash them with a fork and add more butter and the Garlic Confit. Add a few sprigs of thyme for garnish.
And then it was time to eat! It all looked very good. See?

The ribs were moist and the dry rub created a delicious glaze on them. We all loved the ribs, not one person even reached for the sauce and I can't wait to have them for lunch again today! I'm drooling just a little bit right now just thinking about them. Mmmm, ribsssss. I will make these again. And again and again and I'll impress my guests and they'll all love them. And I'll lie and say it's just a little something I came up with and threw together. Okay, no I won't. Sorry.
The coleslaw... well, I dunno. What up with the coleslaw, Chef Keller? I have a recipe I've used for years to make coleslaw and Jeremy and I love it. I'm asked for it on a regular basis whenever I make it for other people - it's a sweet creamy coleslaw recipe and I think it tastes even better than KFC's. But that's not the one I'm here to talk about. I've had the Ad Hoc Coleslaw Salad Dressing sold at Williams Sonoma - this ain't it. It wasn't as yummy. At all. The overwhelming taste was of toasted sesame seeds - which isn't a bad taste, it's just not what I want to taste when I eat coleslaw. It wasn't gross; it just wasn't what I wanted. We all felt the same way about it - not gross, but not great either.
But the Smashed Marble Potatoes? They were good and moist and garlicky. The Garlic Confit is a really subtle garlic flavor. It wasn't like the garlic mashed potatoes I'm sure we've all tasted. And it wasn't really like roasted garlic either. It was there and it was delicious, but it was subtle and light - and as much as I love garlic, and very heavily flavored with garlic foods - I really liked it this way. I'll be using the left over garlic confit as a spread on a toasted baguette. So good.

So there you have it - five more recipes checked off the list. And now... I'm off to Hawaii!


  1. The picture of Earl brings back wonderful memories & made me cry. Then the taste memory of his ribs & pork steaks made me drool! Love the mayo story, I feel your pain! The garlic confit sounds great, I'll have to try it. Bravo, Heather!

  2. Sounds yummy and I love to read your ramblings!! You rock!

  3. Katie O'DanielsMay 24, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    Definitely sorry we missed out on that meal :(