Saturday, September 28, 2013

Damned Rodan's Ribs of Fire

Back when I was a fry cook at Shoney's — 1978–1979, there or about — I would never have imagined I might actually derive pleasure from cooking. Somewhere along the line, though, I took a liking to preparing simple but satisfying dinners for me and the occasional guest. Grilling up dead animal has always provided some measure of satisfaction, largely because my dad, when I was a kid, cooked mighty mean steaks and spare ribs, and it was a rare dish that could compete with them. His barbecued beef ribs in particular used to send me swooning, and it was only recently that my attempts to replicate them found even the smallest measure of success. My means to this end, however, could hardly be more different.

A while back, I was listening to The Splendid Table on NPR — a hopelessly stuffy and dry show, though nonetheless occasionally informative — and one of the segments highlighted a particular chicken joint where, after frying their bird, they dipped it in boiling barbecue sauce. Something about this process fascinated me, so I decided to give the same thing a try with my beef ribs. What a joyful decision this proved to be!

Needless to say, being an aficionado of the supremely hot, I doctor up the critter something fierce. Here's how I do it, in case you'd like to try. Note that the ingredients vary a bit, based on what I have floating around in my fridge and spice cabinets. I quite prefer charcoal to gas grilling.

What You Need:
4–6 beef short ribs
approximately 2 cups fiery barbecue sauce (see below for ingredients)
garlic powder
salt & pepper

The Sauce:
The exact recipe varies from occasion to occasion, but the hot stuff is always prevalent. Measures are approximate, to say the least.
1 cup basic barbecue sauce (I prefer hickory or honey flavor)
1/2 cup A-1 steak sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp hot sauce (favorites include Blair's After Death, Iguana XXX habanero pepper sauce, Krakatoa hot sauce)
1–2 minced hot peppers (ghost pepper, habanero, serrano are favorites)

What You Do:
Mix the ingredients for the sauce thoroughly. Liberally dash garlic powder, salt, and pepper on the ribs (this is the only preparation I do prior to putting them on the grill). Once the grill is ready, place the ribs on the coolest part of the surface and cover. Turn frequently, keeping the smallest ribs farthest from the most direct heat. Just before they're ready to come off the grill — about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on their size — I put them all in the hot center, uncovered, for a few minutes to let the outside get crispy.

Shortly before removing the ribs from the grill, start the sauce boiling at very high temperature. Once it's bubbling furiously, dip each rib in the sauce for about one minute, so that each is nicely glazed.

Serve immediately. A cold beverage goes exceedingly well with these — though, when I'm feeling masochistic, I've been known to accompany them with a Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetini.

Try 'em... you'll like 'em.

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