Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

I hope you're all starting 2006 with joy and health. May today find you better off than twelve months ago.

It snowed a bit yesterday, making driving a little slow. Then a repairman came over to fix the hot water heater, and I just didn't have time to cook my famous (at least within my circle of friends) ribs for my friends' traditional New Year's Eve party and potluck dinner. Fortunately the A&P in Mount Kisco had a lot of pre-cooked food at regular prices. It's not the closest A&P to me, or the closest supermarket, but it's a large store and is always stocked well. That's the free market for you: in anticipation of high demand, they found a way to increase the supply, knowing that competitors would do the same. In maintaining a big inventory of great variety, they attract people from a few towns away, even some of us who will risk slippery roads.

This is how I cook ribs. I've never consulted a recipe of any kind, but ribs are really not that hard to cook. Some recipes call for boiling the ribs until they're cooked, but I cook them completely in the oven. Depending on your oven's convection, my method can take a couple of hours to cook thick pork ribs, and perhaps 90 minutes for beef ribs. My preference is to cook them at no higher than 250 degrees, so that the meat is left tender.

I'm not one for marinating. I impart flavor by shaking a generous quantity of Worcestershire sauce over them before putting them in the oven. As they're cooking, I like to pull them out a few times and apply more Worcestershire. You can skip that if you don't like the taste as much as I do.

I don't apply the sauce until near the end, when the ribs are nearly fully cooked. If you're worried about bacteria from cooking at a relatively low heat, you can completely cook the ribs, but be careful because the end of my method might overcook the ribs. Some people make their own sauce, but I like KC Masterpiece, doctored with honey (my preference) or brown sugar, and with a bit of Scotch (or your favorite whiskey) to taste. Similar to the old joke, you might want to sample the whiskey first, to ensure its quality, and occasionally while you find out just how much to add to the sauce.

When the ribs are done or nearly done, take them out, apply a generous coat of sauce, then put them back in and turn up the heat. I like the maximum "broil" setting (which on my oven turns on the top heating element) to sear the sauce onto the meat. It won't drip off and be too messy when eating. Cook on high for just a few minutes (or however long your oven needs to cook the sauce), otherwise you'll dry out the sauce and overcook out the meat. Pull out the ribs, flip them over, apply the sauce to the other side, and cook for two minutes. Then repeat it for both sides so that you have two layers of sauce.

That's all there is to it. It takes a while, but that's mainly waiting for the ribs to cook, so it's easy. Ribs would have been a nice appetizer last night while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking. Among other things, I brought shrimp and cocktail sauce. I thought the shrimp was excellent, so it surprised me it wasn't very popular. It would have been had it been a party with mostly Filipinos. One New Year's Eve party few years ago, a friend's mother (who is Ilocano) and I ate ate a year's worth of cholesterol just in shrimp.


Anonymous Standard Mischief said...

250 degrees is plenty hot enough. The rule is that you can only allow food to exist for 4 hours at a temperature between 40 and 140 degrees. (I'm talking low acid food here, high acid food like salsa is more forgiving)

Sunday, January 01, 2006 11:08:00 PM  

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