Friday, May 1, 2015

Georgia Style BBQ Spare Rib Platter ... Corn, Slaw, Mashed Sweet Potato & Dill Potato Salad

     Georgia BBQ! 
     The old traditional southern barbecue belt run from the Carolinas on south to Florida and west to Texas.  Most great styles of BBQ cooking originated in this vast region.  Most good barbecue cooks in the south make their own sauces.  All southern style BBQ flavors tend to favor tangy and spicy flavors, unlike traditional northern style BBQ, which tends to favor sweet sauces. 
     The flavor of something like Georgia BBQ sauce is not something that comes from a store bought bottle of pre-made BBQ sauce.  To bottle a sauce, the recipe has to be designed for bottling.  Concessions have to be made and the flavor is affected.  The long list of additives alone make store bought sauces a second rate choice.  

     I used to cook at the busiest BBQ restaurant in America for about 1 year.  That restaurant won the Best Ribs In America title 14 times, but those awards were won back when the restaurant made all of the BBQ sauces in the restaurant kitchen.  

     Because that BBQ restaurant opened up a few new locations and because of the high customer flow volume in the original shop, the owners decided to contract some factory in Chicago to make the BBQ sauce.  Once every couple of months, thousands of 5 gallon buckets showed up on a big semi truck.  
     It became obvious that either the owners cheapened up the BBQ sauce recipe for mass production or the factory sold them on one of their own cheap BBQ sauce products.  The sauce that was delivered did not resemble the restaurant's original signature BBQ sauce.  The mass produced BBQ sauce looked like a corn syrup glaze and it smelled like lacquer paint thinner.  Us cooks noticed the difference and so did the customers.  Eventually that restaurant lost many of its loyal clientele and the restaurant no longer won any BBQ competitions.  
     As one can see, contracting a third party company to mass produce a restaurant's signature BBQ sauce often results in settling for a second rate sauce.  A good BBQ sauce that is made in-house always has more character.

     I always make my own barbecue sauces.  Once a cook gets the knack of how to create specific BBQ sauce flavors, the thought of purchasing bottled BBQ sauce never crosses the mind.  In order to figure out how a specific BBQ sauce or BBQ dry rub spice mix should taste, a cook has to taste the barbecue first.  Some barbecue flavors are nothing less than unforgettably good tasting and they are easy to remember.  

     The best way to experience regional BBQ flavors is to travel to places where specific barbecue styles originated.  I have dined in local BBQ restaurants in every southern state.  A cook can get quite a BBQ education just by starting with North Carolina BBQ restaurants and traveling south to Georgia, then heading west to Mississippi and Texas.  When doing so, a cook will learn many regional and local BBQ styles.  The memories will make it easier to duplicate the regional BBQ cooking styles at a later date.  
     In Georgia, quality fresh made BBQ sauce is the key to an open pit barbecue restaurant's success.  I have dined at a few BBQ restaurants in Georgia, but one was particularly good.  The restaurant was located in what looked like an old wooden feed store building on a farm country road about 10 miles off of Interstate 95, just north of the Florida border.  
     The spare ribs at that Georgia BBQ were not smoked or prepared in any fancy way.  The ribs were just slow roasted and sauced on a wood fired open pit barbecue, the old fashioned way.  The sauce had a brown sugar base that allowed good caramelization, but the sauce was not sweet.  Just the right amount of vinegar and a good selection of ground dried chile peppers gave the sauce a unique Georgia style spicy BBQ flavor.  
     Georgia BBQ Spare Rib Sauce:  
     This recipe yields about 2 cups of BBQ sauce!
     The flavor of this sauce is mildly spicy and tangy.  The sauce is just thin enough to be brushed on open pit style spare ribs several times as they cook. 
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 of a cup of brown sugar in a sauce pot.
     Add 3 1/2 cups of water.     
     Add 4 tablespoons of ground guajillo chile powder.     
     Add 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.     
     Add 2 tablespoons of Spanish Paprika.          
     Add 1/3 cup of tomato puree.     
     Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.     
     Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.     
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of dry mustard.     
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder.     
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder.     
     Add a 4 or 5 drops of red food color.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.     
     Step 2:  Place the sauce over very low heat.     
     Slowly simmer and reduce the sauce till the flavors meld and the sauce is a thin glaze consistency.  
     *Wait till the sauce cooks for 30 minutes before tasting or the flavors will not taste right! 
     Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside.
     Georgia Style BBQ Ribs:
     About 8 to 10 ribs on a spare rib section is a good portion.
     Step 1:  Start up a wood fired open pit BBQ or a chargrill.  Hickory, red oak and white oak should be the wood or charcoal flavors.  
     Step 2:  Place a section of a spare ribs on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.  (The drip pan catches the excess sauce, so it can be used again.)  
     Generously brush the spare rib rack with Georgia BBQ Sauce.
     Step 2:  Slowly roast and smoke the ribs over a low temperature spot on the open pit BBQ or chargrill.  The object is to slow roast between 250ºF to 275ºF.
     Flip the ribs and baste occasionally with the BBQ sauce, while the ribs slow cook.
     When the sauce starts to darken and the ribs are tender, then the ribs are done cooking.  
     *The meat should be tender and juicy, but not quite ready to fall off of the bones.  The meat will shrink and about 1/2" of bare rib bone ends can be seen, when the spare ribs are cooked just right.
     Step 3:  Place the spare rib rack on a cutting board.
     Cut between the bones to completely separate each rib.
     Step 4:  Create a hot spot on the open pit BBQ or chargrill that is in the medium/medium high heat range.  
     Place the ribs over chargrill hot spot. 
     Chargrill the individual spare ribs over the higher temperature and baste the ribs a few times, till the sauce clings to the ribs and caramelized highlights appear.     
     Set the finished ribs on a serving platter. 
     Dill Potato Salad: 
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Boil 1 large russet potato in water, till it is tender but not mushy.  (About 10 ounces)
     Chill the potato in a refrigerator.
     Dice the boiled potato into cube shaped pieces.
     Place the diced potato into a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped boiled egg.
     Add 2 pinches of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped dill weed.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together, while folding the ingredients together.
     Chill the potato salad in a refrigerator.
     Corn on the Cob:
     Cut a few small sections of shucked corn on the cob.
     Boil the corn on the cob sections in water, till they become tender. 
     Drain the water off of the corn sections.
     Brush the corn on the cob sections with melted unsalted butter.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Mashed Sweet Potato:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 portions.
     Step 1:  Cook a 12 ounce sweet potato in boiling water, till it is soft and tender.  (Leave the skin on the sweet potato.)
     Remove the sweet potato from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes.
     Remove the skin with the back of a paring knife.
     Step 2:  Place the peeled boiled sweet potato in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cream.
     Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice. 
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 3:  Mash or whisk the sweet potato till it is smooth.
     Place the mashed sweet potato in a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep the mashed sweet potatoes warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Buttermilk Cole Slaw:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Place 3 cups of very thin sliced cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add a little bit of shredded carrot for color.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
     Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
     Add 2 teaspoons of sugar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Allow the cole slaw to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Toss the cole slaw occasionally.  The moisture from the cabbage will weep out and it will thin the buttermilk.  
     Georgia Style BBQ Spare Rib Platter:
     This is just a standard barbecue restaurant style way of serving ribs.  Ribs are usually served plain on an oval plate or they are served on a platter with all the fixin's for a higher price. 
     Mound a pile of the Georgia BBQ spare ribs on the front portion of a large metal serving platter.  
     Use the pastry bag to pipe the mashed sweet potato onto the platter.  
     Place a small bed of lettuce on the platter.
     Place the dill potato salad on the lettuce.
     Place the coleslaw in a ramekin and set it on the platter.
     Set the corn cob sections on the plate.
     This is some lip smackin' good Georgia BBQ Spare Ribs!  

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