The events depicted in this post are a figment of my imagination, inspired by back to back weekends of cooking and eating spareribs. Let’s imagine this is a bizarre dream induced by falling asleep right after eating, in porky stupor. In a world where a couple buys seven pounds worth of ribs at their local Costco, watches too much Food Network, and the blogging half can’t keep her eyes open past 10:30pm most evenings, this might not be too much of a stretch.
Dorie Greenspan, are you ready for a throwdown?
In one corner, Memorial Day ribs – rubbed Alton Brown style, sit in the refrigerator for at least eight hours. The homemade version of Bobby Flay’s barbecue sauce is ready, left on the chunky side with bits of onion, garlic, and chipotle peppers. The charcoal heats up on the grill, ready to be released from the chimney into the outer area of the grill. A pan is nestled in the middle to pick up some of the dripping, fatty juices.
In the challenging corner, the June 5th batch stands. Assertive ground ginger and five-spice powder marry with the ribs in a tray for six hours, melding with the seemingly delicate apricot and citrus liquid. The oven, set up for moderate heat, doesn’t give away much in bells and whistles at this time.
There’s no trash talking here, for Dorie is a class act and the food will speak for itself. She does have cookies for the audience, comprised mainly of the FFwD bloggers who couldn’t pass up the chance to celebrate the first thirty seven recipes completed from Around My French Table. Even cocky Mr. Flay cannot help but swoon at the cookies.
Yeah… back to the ribs.
The ribs in the grill spend close to two hours smoking. Towards the last twenty minutes, DH (imaginary sous chef) basted the ribs in some barbecue sauce. The ribs outer edges are crusty, almost jerky-like while the insides remain moist. They fall off the bone while being ‘temporarily plated’. The extra sauce is plated for dipping.
The ribs in the oven are steamed and basted often. It is not until the cola makes its appearance in the last half hour stretch that the ribs start looking browned, not unlike the barbecued counterparts. Not that we noticed that much – we were too distracted by the smells of pork, citrus, and spice emanating from the oven. They also fall off the bone while being ‘temporarily plated’. The marinade that did not burn turned into a sweet, sticky glaze, and gets poured over the ribs.
On to judging. The dream slowly but surely fades out.
My ribs (er, Dorie’s recipe) are slightly underseasoned. The ginger and five-spice are not overpowering, the apricot, citrus, and cola flavors have blended into something completely different. Delicious.
DH’s ribs (the Brown/Flay hybrid) have ‘the crust’ as the result of smoking in the grill. The salt and sugar tenderized the ribs, and the meat is delightfully smokey, if a little underseasoned too! DH underestimated the amount of salt in Old Bay Seasoning. We’re not crazy about the sauce even after attempting to tweak it to our taste. There were about three versions of the recipe online, with varying proportions of the same ingredients yielding approximately the same amount of sauce. Had we gotten the sauce right/closer to our taste, these ribs would have been the clear winners.
Dorie’s ribs could have been the absolute winner if they were seasoned correctly as to salt and pepper (cook’s fault) and the recipe included some additional heat. Next time I would consider adding a wee bit of cayenne pepper or Szechuan peppercorns to the mix.
No losers here today! It would be hypocritical to do that considering we ate with gusto both times. The winner would be anyone who managed to grill Dorie’s ribs and get the best of the both methods, smoked ribs with the sweet, slightly spicy taste. I’ll be super excited to find out if one of the Doristas chose to go that way. If you are curious as to what French Fridays with Dorie is, check out out the website, get a copy of Around My French Table, and start writing about it!