barbecue

Outdoor Cooking: Rib Tips

Originally posted at TheKitchenHotline.com:

The most popular ingredient in American outdoor cooking is quite possibly pork ribs.  They are probably the ingredient that gives the weekend warrior the most trouble as well.  That’s because ribs do not react well to the same cooking method as burgers, dogs and chicken.

More Tips from the ProsTo understand the reason for this it is important to learn the actual definition of one of the most misconstrued words in cooking – grill.  When most here the word “grill” the immediate picture that comes to mind is usually of iron grates over a gas flame.  That specific cooking method is called char-broiling.  While that it is a method for grilling it is not the only method.  To grill something means to cook quickly in close proximity to a high-temperature, dry heat.  Char-broiling certainly fits that description but so does a griddle.  This is the method most use to cook burgers, dogs and chicken.

If you try to grill ribs you will not be happy with the result.  If they look good on the outside they are raw in the center; if they are done through and through then they’re most likely burnt on the outside.  To properly cook ribs you need a low temperature for an extended cooking period, usually no hotter than 225 degrees for no less than three hours.

The secret to ribs according to Danielle Dimovski (aka Diva-Q) is, “low and slow rules.”  Diva-Q is the Grand Dame of the competitive barbecue circuit.  She was the break out star of season two of TLC’s BBQ Pitmaster and is rumored to be part of a new series on the Food Network.  The lady knows her ribs.

According to her, “The number one rule for ribs is pull your membrane.  If you’re making ribs you need to pull your membrane so the smoke can absorb and the rub can absorb into the meat.”  Concerning the low/slow method she adds, “You cannot break down that internal fat fast.  You need to take time to do it.  It’s not something that should be done quickly.  At least four hours for a slab of St. Louie spares. “

Because it only produces a high heat gas is difficult, but not impossible, to cook ribs properly.  If you have a gas grill only light one side of it and place the ribs over the cold side.  It isn’t perfect but it will work.   The reason it is only functional is because there is little smoke.  Smoke is vital because it provides a great deal of the taste.

Low and slow isn’t the only reason why charcoal is the preferred cooking medium for barbecue; it also produces smoke.  As the smoke permeates the meat it slowly breaks down the connective tissue leaving a tender rib with great flavor.

Two last tips to producing great ribs.  First, do not put on any BBQ sauce until the ribs are done.  The sugar in the sauce will scorch long before the ribs are done so try not to cook the sauce more than about 10 minutes.  Lastly, never, ever boil the ribs before putting them on the fire.  You lose all of the finger licking goodness.

BBQ Tips from the Best in Smoke

A short film shot at the Hog Wild BBQ Festival in Mobile, AL. The film includes tips from big time BBQ competitors like Danielle Dimovski of Diva-Q and three time world champion Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South, both starred on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters.  Also included is an interview with Craig Orrison, father of Brad Orrison.  Brad, along with his sister Brook, opened The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs.  Brad’s official title in the family business is HeadShedHed.  The Shed team will be appearing on Food Network’s Best in Smoke which premieres tomorrow night.  The film was shot by chef and food writer Stuart Reb Donald (hey, that’s me!) and should help get you ready for Memorial Day.

New Video Recipe for Mardi Gras 2011

Mardi Gras 2011 is so big people actually tailgate it. Weeks before Fat Tuesday the city of Mobile is overrun with RVs. When it comes to tailgating, Mardi Gras is the big leagues. Football and NASCAR tailgates last at best a week. Mardi Gras goes one more than twice that long. For this tailgate party I’m making Smoked Sausage Stuffed Grilled Meatloaf, BBQ Potatoes Gratin and Barbecue Gravy.  Enjoy this video recipe.

7 Questions with “Dr. BBQ” Ray Lampe

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

Spring is just around the corner so it’ll soon be time to fire up the grill.  Barbecue is one of those uniquely American dishes that vary from region to region. In the Carolinas BBQ means slow smoking a whole hog and sauce of made of vinegar and little else. In Memphis it’s about spare ribs with a dry rub – sauce is optional. Kansas City is famous for all cuts of meat and a sauce that is thick, sweet and sassy. Texas BBQ revolves around beef brisket and sauce of any kind is frowned upon. Most of the rest of the country enjoys some combination of these with the occasional local spin like the white BBQ sauce of Alabama, San Francisco’s SFQ Sauce with dark chocolate and coffee or New Orleans’ BBQ shrimp which are actually sautéed in butter having virtually nothing in common with what most folks call BBQ.

With so much diversity it would be nice if there was one “go to” resource for all things barbecue. Someone to whom the masses could rely on to help, enter Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ.  A native of Chicago, Lampe now makes his home in the Mecca of barbecue, the Deep South, specifically Lakeland, FL.

Dr. BBQ’s trademark snow colored goatee and flame covered bowling shirts have made him an icon of the nation’s barbecue aficionadi. After securing a reputation as a talented BBQ cook-off contestant, Ray has now established himself as well seasoned judge both on the national circuits and on televised spectacles for the Food Network.

Recently I spoke with Dr. BBQ and he was courteous enough to answer 7 Questions:

Where did the name “Dr. BBQ” originate?

Ray LampeI was living in Chicago and started cooking in BBQ contests.  It was starting to become an obsessive hobby and I’d bought a new van to carry my stuff around.  Illinois had started allowing us to have vanity plates about the time I got the new van so I figured I’d better get some kind of BBQ plate.  I listed three options to choose from and I honestly don’t even remember what they were.  They sent me the Dr. BBQ plate and I put it on my van.  I really didn’t know I was creating a brand.

When did you start doing the BBQ thing on a professional level?

Mike Royko, the old (Chicago) Tribune columnist for many years, decided to have this rib cook-off at Grant Park right there where the ball fields are.  We had a rib cook-off there in 1982.  It actually continued on through to 1990.  I knew I cooked pretty well but I wasn’t a BBQ cook really but a friend of mine signed us up for it just to go down there and party.  I decided if we were going to go I might as well learn how to cook some ribs.  That was the start of it all.

When did you hit the national circuit?

In 1991 I was looking around for something to replace it (Grant Park cook-off) and I saw a thing in the newspaper they were going to have the first Illinois State BBQ Championship in West Chicago.   It was going to be sanctioned by the KCBS – that was the first Kansas City Barbecue cook-off in Illinois.

If it weren’t for cooking what other career could you see yourself in?

Actually I had a successful family trucking business.  When my father passed away I took over.  By the year 2000 after 25 years trucking had changed and the whole climate had changed.  Things were changing and things weren’t going to be the same anymore.

What lead to the transition from the BBQ circuit to media?

In probably ’04 barbecue was becoming popular and I was one of the guys that had been around the cook-off circuit for a long time and I had the silly beard and the silly haircut and I could speak in public.  Frankly I was really the only guy trying to become a BBQ spokes model so it was kind of an open field.  AndI pushed my way into that and ended up with Big Green Egg.  I started writing an article for Fiery Foods Magazine, Dr. BBQ column.  Dave (DeWitt – Fiery Foods editor) connected me with a publisher and I wrote my first cookbook.  It’s really a story of breaks and doors that opened for me and I just walked right in.  These days I still work for Big Green Egg and I’m starting to write my sixth cookbook.

Of the various regional styles of barbecue do you prefer one over the others?

I wrote a book called Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time Barbecue Road Trip! and I spent a lot of time eating in what are the big four regions of BBQ along with every place in between and what I found was it’s not quite like people think it is.  In Memphis I found that a lot of places serve ribs wet or dry because that’s what’s always written about.  But I did find in Memphis was that almost every BBQ restaurant in Memphis serves with BBQ spaghetti as a side and almost all of them serve smoked bologna topped with Cole slaw as a sandwich.  Now I thought Cole slaw on a sandwich was just a Carolina thing.  I found a lot of that stuff and I thought it was interesting.  Memphis BBQ, I like Memphis BBQ a lot.  I think they ar ahead of the curve using dry rubs.

What’s next for Dr. BBQ?

You know, I don’t try to plan it.  I just try to react and see what’s happening.  You know I really enjoyed doing Tailgate Warriors so maybe there’s a TV show in my future.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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