Maple Chipotle BBQ Sticky Pork Ribs are worth the extra effort for a Labor Day meal
Labor Day is almost upon us and for many, that means you’re looking at a last opportunity to break bread with the folks you love until you’re planning your Thanksgiving turkey.
The kids are back to school (mine to college). Vacation banks have been sorely depleted, and fall’s glorious colors are dancing on the periphery. It’s time for one last shindig.
The natural inclination is to take it easy. You’ve been cooking out all summer, for cryin’ out loud, and chances are the weather will be sticky.
Why put yourself out when everyone is perfectly happy with a classic (and easy) burger, hot dog or barbecued chicken?
Well, because it’s nice to have at least one dish on the table that acknowledges this is a special occasion. And that your guests are worth you spending a few extra minutes in the grocery store/kitchen.
Maybe it’s because I’ve cooked so many holiday dinners for so many people that I’m used to going the extra half-mile.
Maybe, my family expects it. Or maybe, I’m just crazy.
But do you really want all steak and no sizzle when bidding summer goodbye?
You don’t have to drive yourself nuts with a dish that takes hours to prepare or calls for insane ingredients.
Just one item that looks and tastes especially delicious will suffice — a from-scratch appetizer that shines a spotlight on seasonal local produce, perhaps, or a dazzling dessert that makes you look like a culinary genius but only requires watching a YouTube video to get the technique down pat.
Corn Fritters call for a long list of ingredients, and so do the Maple Chipotle BBQ Sticky Pork Ribs and Banana Split Ice Cream Bombe, but don’t let that deter you from making them for the holiday cookout — they are worth the effort, and every minute you spend on them.
So add some oomph to your Labor Day picnic table and make it less of a bummer that summer’s officially over.
1 ear corn, husk and strings removed
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
Large pinch salt
4 tablespoons milk
2 ounces cheddar cheese, finely diced
4 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley, or mixture of both
2 teaspoons finely chopped chile
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive or vegetable oil, for frying
Homemade Guacamole (recipe follows), for serving
Salsa, for serving
Using a kitchen knife, cut kernels from corn cob. Scrape the cob with the back of knife to squeeze out as much of the kernels and “milk” as possible. Set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cayenne or paprika, and salt in mixing bowl and make a well in center. In small pitcher, beat together egg and milk and pour into dry ingredients, stirring to make a very thick batter. Mix in corn, cheese, scallions, cilantro and/or parsley, chile and salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a little oil in a large, heavy skillet. Working on 2 or 3 fritters at a time, add large spoonfuls of mixture to the pan and fry until top is set and bottom is golden. Flip over to brown on other side, then remove from pan and set aside in warm place while you cook the remaining fritters. Serve hot, warm or cold, with homemade guacamole and salsa.
Serves four to six.
2 medium-size avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 small red onion, diced
Juice from 1 lime
1 jalapeno, diced and seeded
1 tomato, diced small
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
A good splash (or 2) hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Combine avocado flesh, onion, lime juice, jalapeno, tomato, cilantro, garlic and cumin in a large bowl. Coarsely mash ingredients, being careful not to overmix (you want it semi-chunky). Season to taste with hot sauce, salt and pepper.
MAPLE CHIPOTLE BBQ STICKY PORK RIBS
4 pounds baby back ribs
FOR DRY RUB SPICE:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
FOR BARBECUE SAUCE:
2 chipotle peppers, coarsely chopped
1 cup American barbecue sauce, such as Sweet Baby Ray’s
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch sea salt
Remove membrane on the back of the ribs. Insert a butter knife between the membrane (it looks like silver skin) and the meat at one end. Work your fingers around under it to loosen the membrane. Once you can get a good grip on it (a paper towel helps), without ripping it, gently pull the membrane off and discard. Trim off any excess fat on the sides and tidy up the ribs.
For dry rub mix: Combine all ingredients together. Rub ribs with the spice mix and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but no more than 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place ribs in a single layer in a large roasting tin. Cover tin with two layers of foil and make sure it is fully sealed. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, make barbecue sauce. Soak chipotle peppers in 2 cups hot water for 30 minutes or until softened. Put peppers together with 1/4 cup of water and blend to a puree. Mix puree with remaining barbecue sauce ingredients in container. Set 1/2 cup of sauce aside, and pour remaining sauce over ribs. Cover and return to oven for another 1 1/2 hours or until the ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, turning once at the half-time interval. Transfer ribs to a tray and pour any pan juices into container of sauce set aside earlier, then mix well.
Preheat barbecue grill to high, place ribs on hot grill, brush a thick coat of sauce on each side of ribs and grill until well caramelized all over. Let them rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the reserved barbecue sauce on the side.
Serves four to six.
BANANA SPLIT ICE CREAM BOMBE
FOR THE BOMBE:
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 pint chocolate ice cream
1 pint strawberry ice cream
1/3 cup jarred Morello or sour cherries
FOR THE TOPPINGS:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Make the bombe: Line 8-inch metal or glass bowl with plastic wrap, leaving 4-inch overhang; place in freezer to chill. Cover the outside of a 6-inch bowl with plastic wrap. Beat heavy cream in a medium bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold in the vanilla ice cream and mashed bananas. Remove the bowl from the freezer, spoon in the banana ice cream mixture and press it up the sides in an even layer. Press the smaller bowl into the mixture to help keep the shape. Freeze until the ice cream is firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
Let chocolate ice cream soften slightly. Remove the smaller bowl and plastic wrap from the larger bowl. Scoop the softened chocolate ice cream into the cavity; spread to flatten. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
Let strawberry ice cream soften slightly, then scoop on top of the chocolate ice cream; spread to flatten. Make a large indentation in the center of the strawberry ice cream with the back of a large spoon; fill with the cherries and press to flatten. Freeze until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
Remove bombe from freezer; invert onto a plate and remove the bowl and plastic wrap. Return to the freezer.
Make the topping: Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate and coconut oil in a medium heatproof bowl; place over the simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted. Set the bowl aside until chocolate is slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Slowly pour chocolate over the bombe. Top with walnuts. Freeze until chocolate hardens, 15 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before slicing.
Serves six to eight.
2 large sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) gin
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) limoncello
Grill thyme sprigs on medium-high heat until fragrant and lightly charred, about 15 seconds.
In cocktail shaker, gently muddle thyme with lime juice.
Add gin and limoncello and fill shaker with ice. Stir well.
Strain into a chilled glass filled with ice, and garnish with thyme.