How often do you say, “I’m going to barbecue up some steaks for dinner tonight?”
Are you sure that’s what you mean? The term barbecue has two definitions; the first one referring to the piece of equipment to cook food outdoors. The second is a process of cooking which involves slow, low, indirect heat circulating around the ingredient with the lid down.
For some reason, in Canada, we quite often use the term barbecue when what are really referring to is grilling. Grilling is when we cook an ingredient over direct heat with a high temperature for a shorter period with the lid up. Today’s conversation is about the latter; low and slow cooking.
Chef Dave Mottershall, at the helm of Bogside Brewery’s kitchen, has this to say about barbecuing: “I think barbecuing is a really interesting cooking method and really entices everyone from professionals to backyard weekend warriors to get involved, the long, patient waits, the great conversations, usually a couple cold beers and obviously the end result of eating amazing barbecue. The flavour of smoke and the way meat reacts to the nitrogen in the wood is really special.”
Mottershall’s recipe is an adapted barbecue recipe that doesn’t require too much work, just a little time and patience. Chef Dave’s recipe for Bourbon Peach ribs is steamed in an aromatic environment and then finished on a hot grill. His version is a more typical Canadian approach to grilling.
If you are looking to achieve smoky ribs, here are the basics:
As a beginner or occasional smoker, you do not need a specific unit for smoking an ingredient; your charcoal barbecue or a gas grill will do nicely. As mentioned, indirect cooking is the way barbecued food are cooked; for today’s rib recipe we are looking for a temperature range of 225-245 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat/coals/hardwood are on the opposite side of the food. If you have a Big Green Egg, you can use the same method, just be sure to use the convEGGtor to diffuse the heat. Use a foil smoker pack if you are using a grill; a smoker pack is approximately two cups of wood chips placed in the center of a generous piece of foil which each end is folded into the center to completed enclose the foil. Poke a few holes into the pack and place it into the heat.
There are really a handful of elements you need to take care of:
Pick a wood (hardwood chunks of hickory or applewood are good choices)
Pick a spice rub (you can buy pit-master mixes as a beginner if you’re nervous)
Pick a protein (St. Louis pork ribs are a great confidence builder)
Pick a sauce (go with your favourite whether you make it or it’s from a bottle)
2 racks St. Louis Bone in rib racks (membrane pulled from the underside of the ribs)
¾ cup spice rub of your choice (I use 8 parts brown sugar, 3 parts kosher salt, 1 part paprika, and a total 1 part of the following: cumin, coriander, black pepper, garlic powder and mustard powder)
1 cup apple juice or cider in a spray bottle (I got my spray bottle from the dollar store)
2 cups of your favourite BBQ sauce
Set your grill to 225-245F; add wood chunks to your charcoal or foil smoker pack as required. The ribs should be cooked bone side down, with the lid down.
After the ribs have been cooking for one hour, spray the ribs with some of the apple juice.
Continue spraying the ribs every 45 minutes until the ribs reach 200F. This will take in total 4.5 hours. At this point, put the ribs on a piece of foil on the grill and brush both sides of the ribs and cook with the lid down for an additional 10 minutes.
Take the ribs off of the grill and allow it to rest for 10 minutes; slice between the bones and serve.
Grilled peach bourbon BBQ pork ribs
By Dave Mottershall
Yield - 4 portions
- Pork Spare ribs x 1 side (back ribs and side ribs may also be substituted if available)
- Star anise x 2
- Cinnamon stick x 1
- Coriander seed x 6
- Bayleaf x 2
- Salt x 1 tbsp
- Cumin x 1 tsp
- Cayenne x 1 tsp
- Paprika x 1 tbsp
- Ancho powder x ½ tsp
- Onion powder x 1 tsp
- Garlic powder x 1 tsp
- Brown sugar x 1 tsp
- Water x 1 cup (chicken/pork stock or apple juice could also be used)
- Bourbon x 2oz
Peach bourbon BBQ sauce
Yield: Enough for the ribs and some extra in your fridge, keeps for 1 week
- Ripe peaches x 4
- Shallot x 1 large (small white onion could be substituted)
- Garlic x 2 cloves
- Canola oil x 1 tbsp
- Bourbon x 3oz - use your favourite bourbon
- Apple cider vinegar x 2 tbsp
- Brown sugar x 1 tbsp
- Canned tomato x 1 cup
- Ketchup x ½ cup
- Reserved cooking liquid from ribs x ½ cup
- Chipotle powder x 1 tbsp
- Cumin x 1 tsp
- Black pepper x 1 tsp
- Paprika x 1 tsp
- Salt x 1 tsp
Step 1: Start by cleaning up your ribs by removing the breast plate and flank off of the spare ribs. Reserve breast plate for stock and the flank and skirt meat for sausages or a snack later. This could easily be done by your butcher or just purchase side or back ribs.
Step 2: Flip your cleaned ribs over and remove the sinew from the back of the ribs, this step is crucial so your ribs don’t curl up as they cook. I like to use a fruit zester to remove this piece as it doesn’t pierce the meat and slides nicely along the bones. Once you have a small edge of it you will be able to pull it off with your hands. This can be discarded.
Step 3: Place a grill rack inside an oven proof pan that has at least 2” deep walls, add water and bourbon to your pan. Add your ribs onto the rack, ensure the water is not covering the ribs, this will help them cook gently and not be boiled.
Step 4: Sprinkle the star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander seed and bay leaves over the ribs. These will help to perfume the meat while cooking and will be brushed aside after. Cover with parchment paper and tinfoil and place into 350F oven for 3 hours.
Step 5: While you ribs are cooking start your barbecue sauce. Start by firing up your grill and split and pit your peaches and place onto hot grill to caramelize, about 5 minutes until lightly charred. While your peaches are cooking take a medium sized saucepan and place over medium high heat. Add canola oil and shallot, cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and sweat 1 more minute, reduce heat if garlic begins to colour. Add the brown sugar and cook until it melts and then add your vinegar and bourbon to deglaze pan and create the sweet and sour flavour. Bring this back to a boil and add Canned tomato, ketchup, Chipotle powder, Cumin, Black pepper, Paprika, Salt and simmer over low heat. Add grilled peaches to infuse flavour.
Step 6: Remove ribs from oven, carefully remove the ribs to a cutting board. Add remaining cooking liquid from the ribs to the BBQ sauce and puree in your blender until smooth. Setup beside your BBQ with a clean paint brush.
Step 7: Brush whole spices off of ribs and cut ribs into 4 equal sections and rub with remaining spices - Cumin, Cayenne, Paprika, Ancho powder, Onion powder, Garlic powder, Brown sugar and place onto BBQ and brush generously with BBQ sauce, continue to baste and grill ribs for 10-12 minutes until nicely carmelized. Ensure you flip ribs to char both sides.
Chef Ilona Daniel's food column, Food Seductress, runs on the first Friday of each month. She welcomes comments from readers by email at email@example.com or on twitter: Twitter.com/chef_ilona.