Not for the Chicken Hearted

 

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I like trying new things. And I like to eat. Put them together, and I like to try new things to eat. So when I saw a Groupon for Rodizio style Brazilian Barbecue, I couldn’t pass it up.

rodRodizio is a type of restaurant service in which you are continuously brought new samples of food until you signal the waiter that you have had enough (or just need a bit of a break). Upon sitting, we were brought a couple of wooden pegs which we would use to signal the server –  the green side meaning bring more meat, and the red side meaning stop. The concept was simple enough.

rod1The meat was brought over on metal skewers and was either sliced at the table, or portioned off shish kabob style. An endless parade of meat ensued. Roast beef, sirloin, bacon wrapped chicken, steak, lamb, and sausage . . . until the server arrived with a skewer filled with tiny pieces of meat. Until then, the servings had been quite generous, so we knew this meat must be special. We were then asked if we’d like to try some chicken hearts.

rod3My first reaction was disgust. Chicken hearts? In my mouth? I kept my expression blank as my dining companion asked if they were any good. The server, obviously used to people expressing their revulsion, shyly said that he thought they were the best part of the meal. What’s the point of trying new things if you don’t really try new things? So I opted for the chicken hearts, and to my surprise, they were tasty. A little chewy, perhaps, but with a good flavor.

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The dinner was accompanied by an all you can eat buffet with traditional Brazilian dishes such as feijoada, made with black beans and pork, moqueca, a dish consisting of slow cooked fish, and acarajé which is made from deep fried black eyes peas. After the buffet and trying 12 different types of meat and some grilled pineapple, I was ready for them to pry me out of the booth and roll me to the car. Trying Brazilian style Rodizio barbecue was a fantastic experience, chicken hearts and all! I can’t wait to gorge myself on meat again.

Melt Off The Bone BBQ Ribs

I’m not going to deny that I’m a foodie. I use any and all reasons to celebrate. A great meal is a terrific reward for a job well done, a goal met, a Tuesday night……So if you climb a mountain Saturday, what do you do Sunday? Make ribs, of course. And with the Fourth of July coming up, I thought I’d share a little of my BBQ prowess – straight from the south.

BBQ is an art. You can’t rush art. The mistakes most people make are cooking at too high a temperature, for too short a time, with the sauce on. For an average sized rack of St. Louis style ribs, you’ll want to cook them 4.5 hours at 250 degrees, with an additional 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees after adding the sauce at the end. It may seem excessive, but there’s no substitute for meat that falls off the bone. It’s the way BBQ is supposed to be.

Sauce can be tricky – if it’s cooked too long, the taste loses the integrity of its flavor. That’s why you coat he ribs with a dry rub before you set them to cook for hours. I always use a brown sugar base with some cinnamon, paprika, and dry mustard powder. I don’t measure, I judge by taste. You want to make more than you think you’ll need – the meat will actually absorb a bit, so I rub it in, let it sit, rub some more, and so on until the rub stops getting damp. Then I flip and do the other side.

You cook the ribs bone side up, so the juice drips down on the meat. And a tight seal, either with tinfoil or a lid is very important (otherwise, you’ll ruin your pan and the ribs won’t be as good). Disposable tinfoil pans work best for easy cleanup. Place the ribs on a roasting rack in the pan, and make sure to get a tight seal with a tinfoil cover.

After 4.5 hours at 250, take the ribs out, turn the oven up to 450, and uncover. Tip the ribs so any excess juice runs off, coat the bone side with sauce, flip over, then coat the meat side generously. Cook another 20-30 minutes uncovered at 450, or pop on the grill.

As for sauce, any bottle of the cheap stuff will do after a little doctoring. I chop one sweet Vidalia onion, sauté in a bit of olive oil until translucent, then I add brown sugar and stir. After a minute I add apple cider vinegar and some Jack Daniels. I let this boil down for 10-15 minutes, stirring every minute or two, until it thickens into a nice syrup consistency. Then I add the bottle of BBQ sauce and mix well. Again, I don’t measure. Start with a little, add more as you feel necessary. Make it your own, to your own taste.

This sauce is a little sweet, but tends to please all. If you want to make a spicier sauce, say for dipping, simply add some cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, crushed red pepper, chili powder – even finely chopped jalapeno, serrano and habanero peppers.

So here it is – my day after mountain climbing rib recipe. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it went. Or if you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to share.

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