French Fridays with Dorie – Cola and Jam Spare Ribs

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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! 

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

26 Responses to “French Fridays with Dorie – Cola and Jam Spare Ribs”

  1. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite
    June 10, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Hmmm… interesting throwdown. I was not overly impressed with these this week but I don’t much like prok ribs anyway. I love the idea of your BBQ smoked ones!

  2. rosa
    June 10, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Very cute post! I always think it’s a good idea to compare recipes and see what works best. And to be able to do it so close together so that you actually remember is even better.

  3. yummychunklet
    June 10, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Being Filipino, I was shocked at how little spice Dorie called for, so I ended up over-seasoning to bring it up to my taste. Great post!

  4. Adriana
    June 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I wish I had learned from the previous week that ribs can take more seasoning.    Both DH and I know better now!

  5. Andrea@ From the Bookshelf
    June 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    GREAT! Absolutely great! I love your rib throwdown!

  6. Patty
    June 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    I like your throw down and both contestants look like winners in my book 😉

  7. Anne-Marie
    June 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    I agree that a little heat on these babies would make them close to perfect! You had quite a porky weekend! It sounds wonderful. And fun!

  8. Kathy
    June 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I love your imaginary throwdown! And totally agree with your assessment of the ribs! They were good but could have been kicked up a notch!! Your ribs look fabulous!

  9. Kate@Diethood.com
    June 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    hahaha I love your “Throwdown” scenario!! The ribs look fantastic… all of ’em!

  10. Betsy
    June 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Looks like a great double-header on both counts. Nice job, Adriana! I definitely think Dorie’s ribs could have benefited from a visit to the grill. Unfortunately for me, the flavors were lackluster. I should have turned it all up a notch.

  11. steph@stephsbitebybite
    June 10, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    This looks delish!! Can’t wait to make these this weekend!

  12. Susan
    June 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Great, fun post! I agree – it’s fun to do comparisons. And, I like that this group encourages us to try things we might not try otherwise. Have a wonderful weekend!

  13. Liz
    June 10, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Too funny! Love that you had a throw down…such a riot 🙂 These both look fantastic!

  14. lifeisfull
    June 11, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    Great post! I would have voted for Bobby’s ribs! 😉

  15. Cher
    June 11, 2011 at 12:44 am #

    You are a funny ducky! Perhaps the ghost of BBQ’s past could M-C the throw-down 🙂

  16. mygreatmenu
    June 11, 2011 at 1:59 am #

    Love your post. Very creative and funny.

  17. Krissy
    June 11, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Fun post…enjoyed reading your comparison. I’m not in love with Dorie’s recipe…I guess we can teach the French a thing or two once in awhile. We added BBQ sauce to fix ours and then we loved them.

  18. Teresa
    June 11, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    My partner’s not a big fan of heat, heat, so he loved Dorie’s ribs. I think the smoked version sounds fabulous, too. Kudos for taking on a throw down!

  19. Pam @ From Apples To Zucchini
    June 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Love the throwdown! They both look delicious, but we prefer our ribs with a bit more seasoning as well. The flavors were nice, but I would concur with your judges : )

  20. Candy
    June 12, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    Cute post! Your ribs look great!

  21. Sis Boom
    June 12, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    I’m laughing ’cause my DH will baste once or twice and then take credit for the whole darn thing. lol. Your ribs are lovely.

  22. marcella
    June 12, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    You are so clever with your throwdown post! These ribs were not a winner at our house. You’re right, French & ribs aren’t exactly a well known combination.

  23. Lana
    June 13, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    This was quite an adventure in your household! I am impressed that you managed to pull off a throwdown. It takes a lot of practice and effort to get the ratio of spices and seasonings right – we are not there yet, but every time is a new lesson that brings us closer:)

  24. yvette
    June 13, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    Loved your throwdon! I loved my ribs but also would add more seasoning next time.

  25. Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen
    June 13, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Your throwdown post was completely engaging and made me chuckle! I would’ve gone for the barbequed version myself as Dorie’s recipe didn’t quite rock my boat. Good on you for cooking two rack of ribs…were you two the only ones who ate these?

  26. Cakelaw
    June 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Wow, what a fabulous colour on your ribs! A smoky flavour would add another dimension to these – inspired.

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