can’t spell Birthday without R I B S… wait

Spelling aside, I turned a year wiser. Ok, it was actually a couple months ago but let’s not get carried away with details. To celebrate I decided to cook up some Ribs. Realizing I have never written a real post about ribs, I thought I’d throw this one out there.

First the meat: In Belgium there is only one type of rib, the Baby Back rib (bottom of the photo to the left). Strangely enough on menus all across the kingdom they are always called Spare ribs (top of the photo to the left) . After some discussion with my local butcher I finally figured out what real Spare ribs are called here, Vleesribben (or “Meat ribs”). They are usually cooked and served as individual rib bones here, but I wanted full racks of course. Armed with this new knowledge I ordered up three racks of meat ribs for my birthday.

The racks were cut a bit taller than what you typically get back in the US, but not as long. I trimmed the ribs St. Louis style and rubbed them with the latest version of my evolving rib and butt rub.

Rub:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup paprika
  • 1/3 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh ground black pepper (I may up this a touch next time)
  • 4 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper

The ribs went into the smoker at 100C (212F). The minion-method fire was made up of coconut shell briquettes with 4 large chunks of hickory and apple wood buried throughout. The smoker stayed right between 100 and 110 (212F to 230F) for 5 hours until I ramped it up to around 130C (265F) for two more hours. None of that 3-2-1 nonsense, just a well controlled smoker and some good meat. I was using water in the water-pan but plan on doing it with a clay-saucer next time to compare. The ribs were mopped twice during the cook with straight apple juice but one rack did also get a slathering of RodenQue sauce 30 minutes before pulling them off. The meal was complete with a whole grilled chicken, cornbread, coleslaw, salad, RodenQue sauce, and one of Ribs best friends… beer.

These were my finest ribs yet. They were nicely smokey and tore away from the bone cleanly, but weren’t so tender that they were mushy (like in a lot of restaurants). I’m still dialing in the rub and the process, but these meat sticks made me darn proud. This cook reignited my love of ribs. I’ll have to start cooking them more regularly from now on.

and finally (recipes)

Ok, this is the last post about the Nocturnal Brew n’ Que at Alvinne. I have had several requests for recipes, so here you go. Recipes for almost everything we served! If you are a homebrewer and would like to look at the recipe we brewed that day, I scaled it down in my previous post.

For European readers 1 cup = 237ml Other useful conversion can be found with this link, or this one

Guacamole:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 1/2 – 1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
  • small handful of coriander leaves (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
  • 1/2 small red onion finely chopped

Scoop the flesh out of the avocados and coarsely mash with a fork. To maximize the juice from the lime you should place it on your work surface and push down on it with the palm of your had. Now roll it around while pressing. You can then cut it in half and squeeze out that lovely juice. Mix in the remaining ingredients and serve with tortilla chips. It’s best if you let the quacamole rest in the fridge a couple hours before serving.

Salsa:

  • 1 cup seeded and finely diced tomato
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 hot red pepper
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • small handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons Alvinne Morpheus Tripel
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Mix together, chill for a couple hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

Alvinno Shrimp:

Simply shrimp marinated in 2-3 parts Alvinno, 1 part olive oil and a dash of Piet Huysentruyt honey-mustard seasoning. Marinate for a couple of hours and then impale them on some skewers. Cook over direct heat on your charcoal grill.

Ribs:

marinade:

  • 70% Alvinne Wild (Rodenbach is an easy to find substitute if you can’t get a hold of the Wild)
  • 30% apple juice

rub: (This makes more than you need but you can store it for a long time)

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon pilli pilli
  • 3/4 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoons cayenne
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Marinate overnight in the fridge with enough liquid to cover all the ribs (if you marinate the ribs in zip-lock bags you don’t need as much marinade). 45 minutes to an hour before placing in the smoker, remove the ribs from the marinade, pat them dry, liberally cover with your favorite rub and let them come up to room temperature. Smoke between 100-120C (210-250F) till done (around 5 hours) with a combination of cherry and pecan wood chunks. Don’t go too high with the temp because the sugar in the rub will burn.

Mop the ribs with some of the marinade a few times during the cook.

Salmon

Simply brush your salmon filet with olive oil, sprinkle with some dill and slap it on the grill.

Pork loin:

  • 1 well-trimmed pork loin (about 1kg or 2lbs.)

marinade:

  • 1 bottle Alvinne Wild (Rodenbach is an easy to find substitute if you can’t get a hold of the Wild)
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey

rub:

  • see rib rub above or use your favorite spice rub

Marinate the pork loin with the Alvinne Wild, apple juice and honey for 2-3 hours in the fridge. about 30-45 minutes before cooking, take the pork out of the marinade, pat dry, dust it with the rub and let it come up to room temperature. Place in your smoker (or grill set up for indirect cooking) at a temperature of around 120-140C (250-280F) with some Cherry and Pecan wood chunks for that smokey goodness (apple, pear, hickory, cherry, and pecan all work well with this). It should take about 60-75 minutes depending on the size of the loin and the temperature. Use a thermometer and take the pork out of the smoker at 65-67C, loosely cover in foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with a touch of Honey-mustard Beercream sauce.

Honey-mustard beercream sauce: (this is a bit of an approximation since I usually don’t measure stuff out when I make sauces)

  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 bottle Alvinne Wild
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons grain mustard
  • 2 dl  (3/4-1cup) heavy cream
  • thickener if needed

Sautee the onion in the butter until translucent and then add the beer, apple juice and honey (you can use the marinade here but then you will need to skim off the “fatty foam” that will appear during cooking). Cook this down to about half the volume. Addthe mustard and cream and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes. If you desire a thicker sauce then use your tickener of choice (corn starch, maizena, etc.)

Cornbread:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter to a baking dish/pan and set in the oven. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, milk and oil. When ready, add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and stir together, but don’t over-mix. Just make sure there are no lumps. Take the pan out of the oven and swirl the butter around. Pour the mixture into the hot dish/pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top. Test with a toothpick for doneness.

Coleslaw:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage (roughly half a cabbage)
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 finely chopped green onion

Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Then mix in the cabbage, carrots and onion. Refridgerate for at least two hours.

Melon Mint and Feta salad:

  • 1/2 each of 3 different melons (watermelon, gavia, and cavaillon were used here)
  • half a small block of feta (roughly 50 grams)
  • a small handfull of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • dash of pepper

Use a melon baller and scoop out the three melon halves. Break or cut the feta into small bits and add to the melon. Take the mint leaves, stack them, roll into a cigar, finely slice and add to the salad. Just before serving add the oil, vinegar and pepper and toss.

Mocha Bomb Sabayon:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Imperial stout (Struise Black Damnation Mocha Bomb works great!) but it apparently you have to use beer that is above 10%abv

Simply add all ingredients to a pan. Now comes the hard part. Over a very low fire you need to start whipping the mixture with a whisk. Pretend your life depended on it. Oh, and this will take a while. If you stop too soon then your egg mixture will quickly separate. If you have the fire too high, whisk too slow, or cook too long then you will end up with bits of omlette in your sabayon. If you manage to do that right then serve the creamy smooth and frothy mixture with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This recipe should be good for 4 servings.

If you want to see someone making Sabayon check out this video (ignore the ingredients… just watch the process).

Moink balls à la Alvinne:

Take 1 kg (2.2 lbs) “gehakt met kruiden” (ground veal and pork mixture with some herbs that everyone here uses anytime ground meat is needed) and roll into bite-size balls. Ours were perhaps a bit on the large side. Then wrap each with a strip of proscuitto. Secure with a toothpick. Dust with your favorite spice rub or seasoning (we used the above mentioned rub). Place on the smoker and cook for an hour or so. As with the other dishes, we used Cherry and Pecan wood for the smoke. Lastly slather each one with a good amount of BBQ sauce, jam or jelly and cook for another 15 minutes or so. We sort of threw together our own beer based BBQ sauce but no one remembers what exactly was put into it. The recipe will remain a mystery forever.

rub it good

A while back I won a bottle of Yardbird from Noskos over at BBQ NL in a giveaway. Unfortunately I can’t say that I won it in some impressive show of skill, just dumb randomized luck. It was a while until I actually had a chance to try out this rub, and once I did it got lost in the shuffle. Well, I just happened to see the photos from that first cook and thought I would post a quick note.

As stated on the bottle “Created for Chicken, made for Pork” this rub was originally intended for chicken but users quickly found that it works great on pork too. I tried it out on a trimmed up “hammetje” for the first cook. A simple and quick cook. The rub was a smashing success! Good balance of flavors. It is definitely a rub you should pick up if you see it. It is also great since you can cook up a classic duo of ribs and chicken with the same rub and have both turn out fantastic. I’ve done a couple of other quick cooks with this rub but have no photographic evidence, but the results were great each time. Now I need to find a European supplier for Plowboys rubs. I’ve heard wonderful things about their Bovine Bold.

pull my pork!

Good pulled pork has to be one of the most satisfying meat dishes in the world. I often find myself dreaming of those beautiful strands of juicy, smokey pork mixed with bits of spicy “bark.” Beautiful moutainscapes of steaming pulled pork topped with coleslaw snow-caps. A place where North-Carolina style red sauce flows like a river…. mmmmm. After living in North Carolina for a while I really fell in love with pulled pork. Some of my fondest food memories were had in small BBQ shacks around Gastonia and Charlotte. I recommend that every teenager should move to NC for high-school because pulled-pork sandwiches go perfect with reckless-abandon. Ah, those were the days!

I may really love this delicacy but I don’t get to enjoy it very often. Those BBQ-shacks seem to be hiding from me on this side of the ocean. So left with no other choice I set out to make my own. First problem, what the heck do I ask for at the butcher? Cuts of meat are different in pretty much every land. I wanted a Butt (no, it doesn’t come from that end of the pig) but the butcher had no idea what that was. Thankfully Picnic was something that they know here. To my surprise they are typically about 6 kg. Pigs must be bigger here. I thought that was a bit big for my first try, especially since I don’t have a freezer to hold any leftovers. I ended up ordering a nicely trimmed and de-boned half picnic, weighing in at 2.2kg (4.85 lbs.)

For the first cook I decided to pretty much stick to some standard recipes out of Smoke and Spice. It was time to say hello to “the Renowned Mr. Brown.” I slightly altered the Southern Succor rub in the recipe by adding some onion powder and garlic powder.

Brasschaat Succor rub (altered Southern Succor rub recipe):
  • 1/4 cup black pepper (fresh ground)
  • 1/4 cup mild paprika
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

The pork was well rubbed with this mixture and placed in a ziplock bag. He hung out in the fridge overnight with the hops and yeast. The next day I started the fire (Minion method fire with a 3/4 full ring of briquettes) around 8am and took the meat out of the fridge. After another roll around in the rub I let the pig rest until the smoker was up to temp.

The swine went on the smoker at 9:10 am and in typical fashion it started to rain. Not wanting to get too wet, I decided to quickly take the burning smoker apart and move it under the awning at the back door. From there on out it was a pretty simple cook. One of the big questions with this kind of barbecue is, to mop or not? Seeing as I was using the water pan in the smoker with water (as opposed to dry, or with sand or terra-cotta pot coasters as some recommend) I did not need to use a mop to add moisture, but I did want to use it to help add flavor. So I only mopped the meat a few times starting a couple hours into the cook.


mop (altered Southern sop recipe):
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp black pepper (fresh ground)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp remaining rub

Since this was a somewhat small hunk of meat by pulled pork standards, I took a rough guess that it would be on the smoker for about 7-8 hours until it reached the magic “pullable” tenderness. Seeing that dinner was planned for 7:30 pm this seemed like ample time. Unfortunately I suck at these types of estimations. As we approached dinner time I ramped up the smoker temperature from the 110-120C range (230-250F) up to the 140-150C range (280-300F) to try to finish the pork faster. After 10.5 hours of cooking I had to take the meat off the smoker.  Now I was aiming for an internal temp of around 87-93C (190-200F), but I had to pull the meat off at 84C (183F). The real test isn’t the internal temp but taking your temp probe or a skewer and seeing that it slides into the meat easily, like butter. Mine was almost right there, but I couldn’t wait another 45 minutes or so. Fortunately the pork did pull apart very nicely and easily.

To accompany the meat I whipped up some coleslaw, some cornbread, and a salad. The coleslaw was also a first for me. I was so used to buying it back in the US that I never bothered trying to make it before. I have to say that is was quite tasty! The cornbread was again baked on the OTP. This time I was able to improve the cooking technique and get a very nice browned top on the cornbread, however the new recipe I tried out was not so great. It was just too darn dense. Next time I will use the recipe I used the first time and just cut back on the sugar… and perhaps use a touch more cornmeal.

Of course I also had to make up some Carolina red sauce. I used the recipe straight from the Smoke & Spice cookbook. I have to say though that I remember most sauces in North Carolina being just a touch thicker and spicier, but that was a long time ago.

The final accent to the meal was a bottle of Hop Nest IPA. The hops were able to cut through the spice, vinegar and smoke and really worked out nicely.

Of course I didn’t take any good photos of the final product, so you’ll have to put up with a slightly blurry photo of some of the leftovers.

All in all I was highly impressed with my new found pork pulling skills (please don’t take that out of context). I think everyone really enjoyed it but the black pepper spice may have been too much for them. The cornbread wasn’t so much of a success. The meat was absolutely fantastic! Super moist, full of smokey flavor, wonderful rich spice notes and melt in your mouth tenderness. I will definitely be cooking up more of this. Once we get a freezer it will be stocked with pulled pork for those times when I have THE craving.

For more photos of the cook click on the photos or here

Plans can change

rockin_babyPlans can change, especially when you have a baby. I didn’t get to brew last Sunday but that was not necessarily a bad thing. Instead we spent some quality family time together. We introduced our baby daughter to the wonderful world of music festivals, and she loved it! There was a family-friendly music festival and the sun was shining so the brew kettle stayed in the shed.

This past week was pretty fruitful even without brewing or grilling. Noskos over at BBQ-NL sent me a bottle of Plowboy’s Yardbird rub that I won in a BBQ lotto of sorts. I am looking forward to trying it out. Now I just have to figure out what I want to try it out with. So many things I’d like to throw on the smoker. I also received some hops I ordered from the people at the hopshopUK. They are hop varieties which I can not find in mainland Europe. 100 grams of Amarillo (USA) and 100 grams of Nelson Sauvin (NZ). I am very interested in both these varieties. Amarillo for its citrussy orange and grapefruit and Nelson Sauvin for its supposed grapey, sauvignon-blanc aroma. Also on the beer front,  I talked with Chad over at The Brettanomyces Master Project Blog (who is working with Brettanomyces at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, and has a fascinatining blog for beer geeks interested in Brett). Chad has graciously offered to send over a sampler of some pure brett strains he’s been culturing up. Some commercially available and some not. I have been itching to play with more funky yeasts and bacteria in my beers. Now I hope the beers turn out well so I can repay Chad with tasty samples!

The new plan: The experimental brew I was going to do last Sunday has been changed to a not so experimental IPA (not a west-coast hop-bomb, I’m looking for balance). It is made with only Munich malt though, so that is new for me. I will be hopping it with a combination of Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin hops and doing a split ferment with US-05 and S-04. Should be tasty!