Tag Archives: barbecue

TCP Cooks: Smoky Baby Back Ribs


Of all the things The Complete Package cooks, his smoked meats are among my favorites. Pork ribs, brisket, pork tenderloin, chicken breasts – it’s all good. One of my personal favorites is the pork ribs. They’re not only delicious as a meal – with baked beans and potato salad, they are fabulous as leftovers. Once the meat falls off the bone (literally), it can be used in posole, pulled pork sandwiches, and one of my favorite light summer meals – smoky pork lettuce wraps. Today, I’m sharing TCP’s secret formula for fall-off-the-bone smoky pork ribs and those easy, flavorful wraps.

Here’s what you’ll need for the ribs:
1 rack of pork baby back ribs
2-3 teaspoons of garlic salt
2-3 tablespoons of Salt Lick Dry BBQ Rub
aluminum foil and oak smoking chips

First, remove the pork ribs from the package and rinse them thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, remove the silver skin from the back side of the ribs and leave the fat on the top side. Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt, then apply a light coat of the dry rub mix, rubbing it in until the entire rack is coated. If you can’t find Salt Lick rub, you can order it online or simply substitute your favorite brand. If you’re in Texas, you’ll find it in HEB stores.

TCP uses a gas grill, but you could do this with charcoal, too. Heat the grill to high heat and sear the ribs on both sides, until they are browned and crispy. Remove the ribs from the grill so you can adjust your grill temperatures as follows. Remember: the key to tender smoked ribs is “slow and low” which means a longer cooking time at low heat. The result is smoky perfection.

If you are using a gas grill, turn off the heat on ½ of the grill, and turn the heat on the other ½ of the grill down to medium heat. This divides your grill into a “warm” side and a “cool” side for smoking your ribs. Place your ribs back on the cool side, and a wood chip packet on the warm side (see below).

If you are using a charcoal grill, remove the grill from your cooker and push your charcoal briquettes to one side of the grill. If you still have quite a few hot coals, use a pair of tongs to remove some of them. You want half of your grill to be free of coals, and half your grill to have just enough hot coals to cause your wood chip packets to smoke. Use extreme caution when moving hot coals!!

Rip off 2 sheets of aluminum foil about 12-14” long. Place 1 ½ cups of oak smoking chips in the center of each sheet and fold them into a sealed packet. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 slits in the top of the foil packets to allow the smoke to escape. Place the ribs on the “cool” side of the grill and one of the oak chip packets on the “hot” side. Close the grill and allow the ribs to smoke for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the first wood chip packet and replace it with the second. Smoke for an additional 30 minutes, making sure the “cool” side of the grill doesn’t get too hot, overcooking or drying out your ribs.

After one hour of smoking on the grill, place the ribs into a baking pan, cover tightly with foil and place them in a warm oven (250F) for 3 hours. When you remove them from the oven, remove the foil and allow your ribs to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into them. When I say cutting them, I really mean using tongs to pull the rib bones out. It’s not really cutting if they fall apart when you touch them. As a bonus, your house is going to smell fabulous and your neighbors are going to be ringing doorbells trying to identify the source of this heavenly aroma. It’s up to you whether you share or not. I’m not saying a word.

Smokey pork, scallions & hoisin on crisp Boston lettuce? Win-win-win!

For the lettuce wraps, you’ll need:
one head of Boston lettuce
2 to 3 cups of leftover smoky pork rib meat
2 or 3 scallions, sliced lengthwise into 3-4” strips
your favorite hoisin sauce

Separate your head of lettuce into individual leaves, cut your scallions into thin julienned strips, and warm your smoky rib meat. To serve, hold one lettuce leaf in your hand. Place a spoonful of smoked pork in the lettuce leaf, add scallion shreds and top with hoisin sauce. Roll and consume. It’s that easy. If you’re a rice lover, you can add steamed rice to your lettuce wraps. If you like crunch, you can add those crispy chow mein noodles. I’m a purist. I like to keep it simple with pork, scallions and hoisin. But that’s the beauty of leftovers. You can be as creative or as straight forward as you like. I just wish I had the words to describe how incredible this tastes. Oh, TCP and smoky pork… I love you so!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a lettuce wrap.

Advertisements

14 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes

Brisket at Black’s in Lockhart, Texas: OMG doesn’t begin to describe it!

Listen up, kids. We have serious business to discuss. Brisket business. And in Texas, that’s as serious as it gets besides football. This weekend, on our way to Austin for the big race, The Complete Package and I took a side trip to Lockhart, Texas for a barbecue lunch. What makes Lockhart unique is the sheer volume of BBQ heavy-hitters within one square mile of each other. Four of the best barbecue places in Texas can be found in Lockhart, and that’s bold talk for a tiny town. Barbecue is the main event here and trust me – these people aren’t playing around. Today, we’re following the big yellow arrow to Black’s Barbecue, just off the main square. Strap on your fat pants, people. It’s about to get tasty.

Sure there's a line. This place is a meat palace. Suck it up, mister!

Don’t let the line fool you. It moves pretty quickly, and in our case it wasn’t because it was crowded inside, it was because you go through a slow-moving lunch platter assembly line of home crafted pleasure. Once you get to the head of the line, you’ll have the opportunity to fill your plate with homemade sides from pickles to potato salad to mac & cheese and chili beans or candied yams.

You'll get misty eyed when you see all the sides. Stay focused. Eyes on the prize!

They even have banana pudding, cobbler and pie on that line. But be warned: you do NOT want to fill up on the sides and miss the main event. And once you try the meat, you’ll be sorry you wasted precious plate space on what will forever be thought of as useless filler. Delicious, homemade filler for sure, but still…meat is the headliner here. Because this was our first visit and I got side-tracked, I tried the chili beans and pickles with a yeast roll. TCP sampled the potato salad, coleslaw and mac & cheese. As for meat, we both went with what they’re known for – the “wet” brisket and homemade jalapeno cheese sausage.

A typical plate at Black's. Wait...there's nothing typical about the food at Black's!

Okay, here’s where we explore the “brutally honest” portion of this review. I cannot tell a lie. I love jalapeno cheese sausage, but I didn’t love it here. It wasn’t even in my Top 10. I saw the flecks of jalapeno and little blobs of cheese, but I couldn’t taste any of it. It was bland, and that’s not good for a sausage that’s designed to pack a punch. I’m sorry, sausage lovers, but the texture and taste of this one left me disappointed. That said, however, the brisket more than made up for it. Oh, that brisket! That gorgeous, fatty, smoke infused, blackened hunk of beefy perfection! I can hardly contain myself. It’s like buttuh, I tell ya’.

That smoke ring...that black crust...that layer of fat. I just want MORE!

Let’s just bottom line it, shall we? This is the best brisket I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Bar none. Hands down. No competition even remotely close. Seriously. And no, my maiden name is not Black. I’ve sung the praises of the Salt Lick in Driftwood. I’ve dined on the picnic tables at Kreuz Market in Lockhart. But this one….this one is different. This brisket fell from heaven, carried by angels who obviously love their purebred Texas cattle. This one belongs in the record books. There are very few foods in the world that I could binge on until I feel nauseous, but this is one of them. I could eat it every day. I would surely die of a coronary, but I would argue that it might just be worth it. Like totally.

Come for the brisket, but stick around for the charming atmosphere.

The interior of Black’s is decorated in circa 1958 “Grandad’s Fishing Cabin” which adds to the charm. I didn’t even notice the dead animals on the wall until most of my lunch had been consumed. Yup, this place has charm. The clientele is as varied as the sides. You’ll find yourself in line with tour groups, couples, families and bikers. And that just makes it better. At Black’s Barbecue, people from every walk of life come together to celebrate smoky meat. And when it comes to brisket, Black’s is definitely worth celebrating.

Take Me Back to Blacks. YES, PLEASE!

To learn more about Black’s BBQ, you can go to http://www.blacksbbq.com/

Disclaimer: NanaBread is not related to or compensated by the Black family or anyone else associated with Black’s BBQ in Lockhart, Texas. She is just an outspoken, meat-eating, BBQ loving Texan seeking smokey perfection wherever she can find it. And there’s nothing wrong with sharing the gospel of brisket.

17 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes, Travel Tales