Saturday morning brought the first day of spring league, and a gorgeous 70+ degree day. This is a food blog, so I won’t go into much detail, but my team won. Our household is split over 3 teams. The other teams in the household did not win. Such is life. My team played early games, so I went home to get the gas grill going and threw together a basic cookout meal to celebrate the nice weather. Not a lot of people, nothing special food-wise, except it was all pretty good. It started off with some guacamole prepared by Angela (which was excellent) as well as some weak salsa prepared by me. The main courses were chicken thighs marinated in mojo criollo, some excellent bratwursts provided by a certain someone’s special someone, a few chicken andouille sausages by Amy, and a grill full of red peppers, zucchini, and portabella mushrooms. Nothing special, but everything was pretty good.
Sunday was the big day. Meal # 3 on the Weber Smoker. Dragged Joe with me to Costco where I purchased six racks of baby back ribs, along with some asparagus and pita chips. Then I took a quick trip to Family Fruit Market to pick up a few more fixin’s. Then I prepared the ribs. A quick rinse in water, followed by a quick rinse with vinegar. A light coating of mustard, a thicker coating of spice rub. Start the fire in the smoker, get the smoke moving. Throw on all six slabs on 2 levels.
While the ribs were cooking, I made hummus, Grandma’s pasta salad, and BBQ sauce. I also sliced open some fresh jalapeños, pulled out the ribs and seeds, stuffed them with chorizo, and wrapped them in bacon. Call it an amuse bouche if you want, although I might have to shoot you if you do. As people started arriving, the double batch of hummus disappeared rather quickly. I kept everything else in reserve. After 3+ hours on the smoker, including a top and bottom rack swap, one flip, and a few spritzes with cranberry juice and olive oil, the ribs were done smoking. I was able to send Ruby the dog in to distract everyone while I took the ribs off, covered them in foil, and hid them in the oven. I put the stuffed jalapeños and 1.5 pounds of fresh Italian sausage on the smoker. Then I fired up the gas grill and covered it with 2 pounds of asparagus that had been tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne (thanks boss). When it was time to put everything on the table, this is what it looked like.
Everything is pretty identifiable. The BBQ sauce is a little shadowed, but it looked like BBQ sauce. The potato chips are jalapeno crunchers. Great BBQ food. The wine is Casillero del Diablo Carmenere from Chile. Great casual red wine. You might not buy it because of it’s price. Trust me, it’s worth every penny.
Closeup time. The pasta salad is very basic. I actually didn’t put enough mayo in, but I knew the crowd would like it better with less mayo. I just used Grandma’s recipe, but instead of the rainbow rotini, I used a very nice imported whole wheat pasta that somehow avoids the graininess of most whole wheat pastas.
Grilled asparagus. So easy, so good.
The smoker has a lot of fire left in it even after 3+ hours of cooking time. Stuffed, wrapped jalapenos and Italian sausage seemed like good things to throw on while the ribs rested awhile. The Italian Sausage was tasty enough, but the flavors were a little too subtle to stand up to the ribs and the jalapenos. The jalapenos were really good. A could of guests said they were the best thing they’ve had that I’ve cooked.
How was the main event? Pretty good. I need to work on the fire control a little bit. They might have been a little overdone in places, but overall, flavor and texture were good. I didn’t sauce them at all, preferring to let the guests add sauce for themselves. People seemed to like them. I thought they were pretty good. Definitely be making them again pretty soon, I would say. Here are a couple of slabs, before I sectioned them for easier eating.
I have to say, it was a pretty good culinary weekend, and the food was appropriate to the weather. Now that we’re supposed to drop into the 40’s this afternoon, I need to start thinking about braising and stewing again, until it’s time for spring to come back. Hopefully mid-April.
Oh, who were the guests? The roommates minus the new guy. One brand new (and fantastic) ultimate player who is also a roommate girlfriend. The Russells, the Martin-Lees, some tall guy from Indiana, puppy Ruby, and her owner. Three of those people just kind of showed up and were fed. If you’re feeling left out, you shouldn’t. I generally don’t make too many phone calls for these things. Just call if you sense there might be something cooking.