Tag Archives: barbeque

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.

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“Buy Local” Spotlight: Salt Lick BBQ

If smoked meat is your idea of heaven, the Salt Lick BBQ is the place!

If you are lucky enough to live in the Austin area or the hill country around Austin and find yourself craving smokey meat, you owe it to yourself to visit the Salt Lick in Driftwood. It is the mecca of smoked meat and sweet, spicy sauce. And I love the atmosphere almost as much as the food. You can easily spend an evening sitting on the patio under the live oaks sharing cold beverages, local music, and great friends. It’s like hanging out at a neighbor’s house, if your neighbor had an enormous patio surrounded by hundred year old live oak trees right next to a world-class barbecue restaurant. A girl can dream, right? And like your friend’s house, you’ve invited to bring your own beer. Because the restaurant is located in a dry county, they allow guests to bring in their own beer. I recommend Shiner and/or a 6-pack of Dr Pepper. It’s a Texas tradition.

The altar of smokey meat at the Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood

There are many things I love about the Salt Lick. One is that they offer to serve you from a menu, or you can order “family style” and they’ll keep bringing food to your table until you beg them to stop. Another is that it’s built into an old rustic ranch-style farmhouse and the furniture and atmosphere reflect that old western charm. I love that the meat pit where all the action happens is inside the restaurant so you can drool over it, and they’re gracious enough to let you walk right up to it or around it to see the glorious piles of smokey meat and take pictures. I’m enamored with the sesame
scented coleslaw, the potatoes served in the shape of someone’s gloved hand, and the warm bread, sliced onions, and salty pickles that dot the table. I love that the worn farm tables look like something out of my great-grandmother’s barn. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING surpasses the meat at the Salt Lick. There’s not a bad batch of meat on the menu. The ribs fall off the bone, the sausage is flavorful, and the brisket is perfectly tender and wears that pink smoke-ring of perfection we Texans crave. The only thing that will keep you from stuffing yourself like a Thanksgiving turkey is the need to save room for cobbler. Your choices are peach and blackberry, both served with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream (on request). And since they’re both too awesome to choose one over the other, I recommend you get both. Just ask for extra spoons and be prepared to share. After a big meal, four people can easily share one serving of cobbler. If you’re dead set on only ordering one, I highly recommend the blackberry.

My dinner - the sausage and brisket plate. I wish this photo was scratch-n-sniff.

Before you leave, hit the small merchandise corner by the front door. They have great t-shirts and hats, but my favorite “take aways” are the sauces. They have really, really good sauce. Cross my heart. They also sell excellent dry rubs for the home chef. If you’re too far to visit but too fascinated to pass it up, they have an online store. If you’re close enough to visit, then by all means do. Pick a nice evening with cool temperatures and a great breeze. Stock an ice chest with cold beer or sodas for the kids. Throw a deck of cards or a board game in the car in case you decide to hang out in the courtyard before dinner. Skip lunch or eat light before you go, and don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants.

For more information on the Salt Lick BBQ including directions and the online store, visit their website at http://www.saltlickbbq.com/

Disclaimer: NanaBread is not tied to the Salt Lick BBQ in any way, even though she’d like to tie herself to one of those farm tables and stay until they run out of brisket and cobbler. She has never been compensated for providing feedback on the restaurant or their products. Ever. She just loves the place and can’t keep her big mouth shut. Big surprise.

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