Hot off the grill |

Hot off the grill

Savory sensations for your Memorial Day cookout

By now, you’ve probably thrown a few burgers on the grill. Maybe even sizzled some steaks or pork chops. But Memorial Day weekend is here the unofficial start of summer so it’s time to get serious.

And serious can only mean one thing ribs.

We turned to a serious rib man in Georgia, Morrow Police Maj. Charlie Sewell, for a “Ribs 101” lesson. Sewell, aka “Smokey Pig,” will be teaching a course on outdoor cooking at Clayton College and State University on June 16.

Sewell is a traditionalist, slow-cooking his ribs over a low heat for five to six hours. Ribs are more than an occasional menu offering for him, you see. They are a hobby. He learned the basics working as a “grunt” on a barbecue team that regularly competed in the prestigious Memphis in May contest.

Now he rarely competes, instead devoting his time to cooking for the police department and other civic groups at special events. Last year he bought a 15-foot-long smoker that is parked by the side of his house when it’s not on the road.

Don’t panic. You don’t need a smoker the size of a submarine to make good ribs. “Anybody can be a backyard hero with nothing more than a $29 smoker,” Sewell assures.

And there are shortcuts on time too, though purists like Sewell would never take them. Some parboil ribs first; we like to pre-roast them in the oven when time is short. And some ribs can be grilled rather than slowly smoked. We offer all the choices for all types of ribs inside.

Cooking up tasty ribs “is more about technique than recipes,” Sewell said. “That’s why we offer the following recipes as guidance, not commandments.

All-purpose barbecue sauce

Makes 6 1/2 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

3 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups spicy mustard

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

4 tablespoons liquid smoke

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter

3 tablespoons hot sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 pounds (40 ounces) brown sugar

3 tablespoons paprika

3 tablespoons salt

4 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon red pepper

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large saucepan, combine tomato sauce,mustard, honey, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, butter, hot sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, red pepper and black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Maple syrup ribs

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Juice of two limes

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 pounds pork spare ribs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the tomato puree and cornstarch. Stir in the lime juice, maple syrup, garlic, chili flakes and salt. Set aside. Place the ribs in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Meanwhile prepare grill with a hot fire. Brush the sauce on the ribs and place on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes or until they are nicely browned, turning once and brushing again with the sauce. Watch that the glaze does not burn. Serve at once.

From: “Ainsley Harriott’s Gourmet Express”

(Dorling Kindersley, $19.95)

Dry rubbed country-style

ribs with mustard glaze

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Chilling time: about 4 hours

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

For the dry rub:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup paprika

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried mustard powder

3 pounds boneless country-style back ribs

For the glaze:

2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup honey mustard

1/4 cup honey

To make the rub: In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, white pepper and dry mustard. Mix well.

Coat the ribs with rub and place in a plastic bag, seal and refrigerate for 4 hours. You will use about 1/2 cup rub (reserve remaining rub for later use. It will keep indefinitely in an airtight container).

To make the glaze: In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and honey. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

To prepare the ribs: Preheat grill to medium-hot. Place the ribs on the grill and cook for a total of about 15 to 20 minutes, turning once or twice. If the ribs begin to burn, move them away from the direct heat and continue cooking. As soon as the ribs are removed from the grill, while they are still very hot, coat them with the glaze. Serve at once. Store leftover glaze in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

From: “Ribs: A Connoisseur’s Guide to Barbecuing and Grilling” by Christopher B. O’Hara

(Lyons Press, $18.95)

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