Baby Back Ribs on the Grill

Purpose:

To make ribs on a hot Memorial Day day without using the oven on in the apartment.

Protocol:

Materials:

  • Rack of baby back ribs (extra meaty!)
  • Rub:
    • Salt
    • Black Pepper
    • Garlic Powder
    • Chili Powder
    • Italian Seasoning
    • Dried Oregano
    • Onion Powder
    • Cumin
    • Smoked Paprika
  • Mop sauce:
    • Apple cider vinegar
    • Lime Juice
    • Sweet tea
  • BBQ Sauce

Equipment:

  • Grill (standard Weber kettle grill)
  • Charcoal (~72 pieces)
  • Charcoal chimney
  • Tongs (for charcoal)
  • Foil
  • Brush
  • Knife

Procedure:

Ribs, like a lot of barbecue, is best done “low and slow.” I wanted to set up my charcoal grill to last about 6 hours at around 200-230 degrees Fahrenheit, so I used the “snake method” (link to video). I just used some random extra firewood as the smoke wood, since I didn’t really care too much about smoke flavor.

Prepare the ribs

  1. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels.
  2. Make a small slit in the membrane on the bony side of the ribs. Use your fingers to remove this membrane. My trick is to separate the middle part of the membrane as far as I can before pulling it off. This way you get do it in one piece.
  3. Salt the ribs on both sides.
  4. Mix the other ingredients (about 1 T each..just wing it) in a bowl.
  5. Rub the mixture all over the ribs on all sides.

Prepare the grill:

  1. Arrange two rows of 20 charcoal briquettes along one edge of the grill. Place another row of briquettes on top. Add some wood chips or blocks too if you want some smoke.
  2. Light 8 pieces of charcoal in a chimney.
  3. When the charcoal is fully gray and glowing, add them to one end of the charcoal “snake.” Make sure a few of the hot briquettes are touching the snake, obviously.
  4. Put the cooking grate on the grill, and place a piece of foil on the far side of the grill from the heat source.
  5. Place the ribs bone side down on the foil.

Prepare the mop sauce.

  1. Mix some vinegar, tea, and lemon/lime juice in a bowl.
  2. Every 30 minutes, use a brush to brush the liquid on the ribs.

Wait.

  1. Rotate the ribs 180 degrees at the 2 and 4 hour marks.
  2. Occasionally rotate the whole grill rack to keep the ribs on the far side away from the heat.
  3. After around 5 hours and 30 minutes, brush on some barbecue sauce for the final glaze.
  4. After a final 20-30 minutes, transfer to a cutting board, slice, and serve!

Results and observations:

Ribs

Pictures at 0h, 3h, 6h, 6.25h. Nom. I forgot to add sauce to the bony side of the ribs at the end, but it wasn’t a big deal since I added sauce on my plate. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the actual utility of mop sauces while slow-cooking on the grill, so I’ll probably do more research on that next time. Apparently my charcoal setup was enough to last another hour or so, which would be good for bigger ribs or if I were doing two racks.

S’mores Cupcakes

Purpose:

To make a summer party-worthy dessert for a non-chocoholic as quickly as possible.

Protocol:

Materials:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Graham crackers or crumbs
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Milk or semi-sweet chocolate
  • Heavy cream
  • Cream of tartar
  • Vanilla extract

Equipment:

  • Kitchen Aid mixer
  • Kitchen scale
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Spatula
  • Muffin tin with cupcake liners
  • Pot that fits Kitchen Aid bowl

Procedure:

This protocol was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s S’more Cupcakes. I love Deb AND many of her recipes make me say “ain’t nobody got time for that.” Below is a quick and dirty way to make these marvelous cupcakes. I got home from work after 7 and was out the door by 8:45, having eaten dinner and made the cupcakes. My sous chef had done steps 1-4 before I arrived to save time! (Lessons from the lab – delegation is key, take all shortcuts that don’t negatively affect the outcome/reliability of the data.)

Prepare the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and place cupcake liners in a 12-cup standard tin.
  2. Food process 7 graham cracker sheets to make crumbs.
  3. Chop 4 oz chocolate.
  4. Weigh 125 g flour, 110 g graham cracker crumbs, 3/8 tsp baking powder, 3/8 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon into a bowl and stir.
  5. In Kitchen Aid, cream 1 stick butter with 67 g granulated and 106 g dark brown sugar.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping between.
  7. Add 1/3 dry ingredients, mix. Add 1/2 C buttermilk, mix. Repeat. Add remainder of dry ingredients.
  8. Distribute batter among cupcake liners and bake 20 m or until toothpick comes out clean. While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the filling and frosting.

Prepare the filling:

  1. Put 4 oz chopped chocolate, 1/3 C heavy cream, and a pinch of salt in a small microwaveable bowl.
  2. Nuke for 30 s, followed by 15 s increments, until chocolate begins to melt. Stir until fully melted and set aside.

Prepare the frosting:

  1. In a VERY CLEAN Kitchen aid bowl, put 2 egg whites, 133 g granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, and 3/4 tsp vanilla into a heatproof bowl and set over a pot with 1/2″-1″ of water on low to medium low heat.
  2. Whisk about 3 m, until sugar dissolves and egg whites are warm.
  3. Move the bowl to the Kitchen Aid with whisk attachment, gradually increase mixer speed to high, and beat until stiff peaks form, 4-7 m.
  4. Add vanilla and mix to combine.

Assemble the cupcakes:

  1. When the cupcakes are cooked, pop the whole tin in the freezer until the metal is cool to the touch.
  2. Use a measuring Tsp to remove cake from the center of the cupcakes.
  3. Use a table teaspoon to fill the whole with chocolate filling.
  4. Use a table tablespoon to dollop frosting on top.

Results and observations:

cupcakes

The cupcakes were tasty! Very summery, very s’mores. This is definitely the 80/20 rule (80% of the output is due to 20% of the input) version of the recipe – I’m sure they would have looked nicer and had a slightly better texture if I let them cool normally and used a piping bag for the filling and frosting, but for me it’s not worth the time. I did end up toasting the ends of the frosting with a flame later on, as it gives it the final touch.