Posts Tagged BALSAMIC VINEGAR

Rub n’ Slather Ribs

BBQ RibsI’m calling these Rub n’ Slather Ribs because they are cooked in two stages. Overall, these ribs take about four hours to cook at a low temperature of 250 degrees. The first stage is to cook them for two hours after applying a rub. After the first two hours, you add barbecue sauce and cook for an additional two hours.

I really dislike store-bought barbecue sauce. It doesn’t matter what the brand is; the stuff just doesn’t taste good to me. One of the things I dislike about them is the “smoke” taste. If you, on the other hand, like that smoky flavor, you can simply add “Liquid Smoke” to the homemade barbecue sauce.

The rub calls for an ingredient called Vulcan’s Fire Salt. This indispensable little condiment can be ordered from The Spice House, and it’s one of the things I keep in my spice cabinet. If you don’t have it or don’t want to wait to try these, you can always use a Cajun spice — which can be purchased at your local supermarket. The barbecue sauce also calls for a bit of a specialty product called Slap Ya Mama. You can also replace that with a Cajun spice. However, I highly recommend that you get both of these and stock this stuff.

This recipe works with both baby back ribs and regular ribs.

Ingredients

3.5-4 lbs pork ribs (baby back or otherwise)

Ingredients for Pig Rub

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp Vulcan’s Fire Salt

1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Ingredients for Pork Slather Barbecue Sauce

16 oz tomato sauce

4 tbsp tomato paste

1/3 cup ketchup

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tbsp Slap Ya Mama Cajun spice

1 tbsp dry mustard

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp onion powder

3 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp fresh-ground black pepper

1.5 tsp sea salt

Directions

Mix together all the ingredients for both the rub. Be sure to mix well.

Prepare the ribs by cutting the top flap off each rack of ribs. Keep for use in another recipe, like say, a black bean soup (which I promise to get to).

Line baking dishes with aluminum foil (depending upon how many racks of ribs you’re cooking). Apply the rub liberally to both the underside and the top of the ribs. The idea here is to have absolutely none left over.

Place in the foil-lined baking dish(es) and cook for two hours, uncovered, at 250 degrees.

While the ribs are cooking, mix all of the ingredients together for the barbecue sauce. Whisk at the end to ensure that everything is incorporated.

At the end of two hours, remove the ribs from the oven and slather the top with barbecue sauce. Be sure to cover the whole area using a brush. Cover the ribs with aluminum foil and return to the oven for another two hours. After two hours, remove the aluminum foil and switch the oven to “Broil.” Leave the ribs in for an additional 5-8 minutes. Be sure to put the oven hood on and open a window. I’ve set off many a smoke detector with this kind of behavior.

 

 

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Slow Cooker Balsamic Pulled Chicken

slow cooker pulled chickenOh, now here’s a variation on a theme for sure. I did an informal inquiry about what people think when they are asked about “pulled” meat recipes. The vast majority of them think of pork. But it doesn’t stop at pork. Here is a great pulled chicken recipe. The majority of recipes call for boneless chicken breasts, but I think that boneless thigh meat is far superior to breast meat. In its essence, thigh meat is much more moist. The results here are absolutely delicious.

This recipe can be served two ways. Balsamic pulled chicken can be served traditionally like pulled pork…on rolls (preferably onion rolls). Or it can be served over corn bread. There are a number of good recipes for corn bread. In fact, there’ll be one right on the box of corn meal you buy to complete this recipe. However, I’m providing a link to one of my favorite corn bread recipes, courtesy of the spectacular Giada De Laurentiis.

Ingredients

2-2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

sea salt and pepper (to season the chicken)

1 medium-large Vidalia onion or Bermuda onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup Balsamic vinegar

1 cup Ketchup

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Pickled jalapenos (for serving)

Baby Arugula (for sandwiches)

Directions

Place the onions and garlic on the bottom of the slow cooker. Salt and pepper the chicken and add it to the slow cooker, packing the brown sugar evenly over the top. If your chicken overlaps (which it might), be sure to get some of the brown sugar in between the pieces.

In a bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Pour it over the chicken. Set the slow cooker on “high” to cook for four hours. During that time turn the chicken once.

When you reach the 3-hour point, remove the chicken and pull it in to strips using two forks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker for another hour, cooking with the cover off so that the “mop” thickens a bit.

Serve over corn bread topped with pickled jalapenos, or serve pulled chicken sandwiches on onion rolls using baby arugula the same way you’d use lettuce in a sandwich.

 

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Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

brussel-sproutsLet’s talk about Brussel Sprouts. I know. Don’t turn up your nose. If you cook them right, they really aren’t bitter. We don’t want to eat them raw. We don’t want to boil them. But I’ve got to tell you, I’ve made true Brussel Sprout haters into Brussel Sprout lovers with this recipe. And there are a whole lot of good reason to eat Brussel Sprouts. I’m not going to go into detail in this blog, but you can click here for a rundown. Depending upon where you buy these, they come two ways. Either they are sold individually (sometimes prepackaged) or what I like to call “on the vine.” Doesn’t matter which way you buy them.

Roasting vegetables is one of my favorite things. Generally speaking, I like them quite brown when they come out of the oven. Sometimes when I take these out of the oven, they are crunchy (which I like). But really, you get to decide when to take them out. All that really matters is that they are soft (you can tell by checking with a fork) and browned to the degree you want them to be browned. This is where you apply that “think outside the recipe” thing.

Ingredients

1-1/2 lbs Brussel Sprouts

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp rainbow pepper

2 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp Tuscan Seasoning (I use McCormick’s; great stuff)

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle (you can make a reduction by yourself, or you can buy it ready to go)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim off the bottom of the sprout, remove the outer layers and cut in half. Be aware that sometimes a few leaves fall off. Don’t toss them if you’re a lover of crunch. I throw them in the pan.

Toss the sprouts with the olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, salt, rainbow pepper and Tuscan seasoning. Place them in a roasting pan.

Roast at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven, place on serving dish, and drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle.*

Add-Ins: These are delicious just as is, but I’ve got to tell you about bacon. Every once in a while, I like to  cook about five slabs of apple cider cured bacon (Carando makes a good one) nice and crispy, then break them up. (A nice alternative is chopped Pancetta, which is Italian bacon). Before serving, toss the sprouts with the bacon, then apply the drizzle. Wow! Another great add-in just before serving is a half cup of parmesan. Can’t go wrong. Hell, use both the bacon and the parmesan.

*You can make your own drizzle by dumping a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar in a heavy bottom pot. The only other thing you need is a stirring implement and plenty of time. You don’t want to simmer the vinegar. It has to be a slow process that can take up to two hours. Be sure to vent your kitchen, especially if you have kids. They can get pissed off with the smell.

Alternatively, Vervacious in Maine makes some delicious Balsamic Drizzle. I’ve used the Espresso Balsamic and the Chocolate Balsamic in the past. There is a link to Vervacious on the blog. Other specialty stores also carry this.

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