23 July 2015

Who Loves Ya Backyard Baby Back Ribs

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When it comes to barbecue, I think of pulled pork, brisket and ribs.  The problem is, my favorite way to prepare ribs is not by barbecuing them, but by braising them.  I cheat a little at the end by using the grill to caramelize the glaze, just so I get the feeling that I did do some of the cooking outside.  No matter the method, these ribs will make you look like a real barbecue pit master.
I know, I know, another Alton Brown recipe.  What can I say, the man knows what he's doing.  I've got to the point where I don't follow some of his recipes to a T, and add my own little variations.  So I am making progress, especially with the non-baking applications.  One doesn't want to mess with the baking formulas.  Now that's science!
This recipe is kind of a combination of AB's Who Loves Ya Baby Back Ribs and Backyard Baby Back Ribs.  I like the use of the grill to finish the ribs for the Backyard Baby Back Ribs, but I feel the braising liquid for the Who Loves Ya Baby Back Ribs is far superior.  I also tweaked some of the spices used in the dry rub and replaced white wine with beer in the braising liquid.
So, does combining two AB recipes make it my own?  I doubt it, but it doesn't really matter, these ribs are finger-licking delicious!
Who Loves Ya Backyard Baby Back Ribs
Recipe inspired by Alton Brown

2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs

Dry Rub:
8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Braising Liquid:
1 cup beer
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place each slab of ribs on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, with the shiny side down (the foil should be 4 inches longer than the ribs on either end). Sprinkle each side of the slabs generously with the dry rub and pat into the meat. Close the foil around the ribs, almost making a pouch and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Combine all ingredients for the braising liquid in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and open one end of the foil for each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into the foil pouch. Slowly tilt the baking sheet to equally distribute the braising liquid. Place the ribs in the oven and braise for 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot and bring to a simmer.  When the liquid is reduced by half or when it has a thick syrup consistency brush some onto the ribs.

Set a gas grill to medium-high. Cut each slab in half and place them on the grill, flesh side down, close the lid and decrease the heat to medium.  Cook the ribs on each side until the glaze is caramelized.  Remove the ribs from the grill to a cutting board and slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions. Add the ribs and the remaining glaze to a large serving bowl and toss to thoroughly coat.  Serve and devour.

09 July 2015

Alton Brown's Fudge Cake

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Okay, so I am just copying this post over from one of my other blogs, Family Tree-Eats.  I feel it is too good not to share here on latent chestnut.  So, I apologize if you've read this before, but if you haven't, make this cake!!
This is the best chocolate cake I have ever made, and it is my 'go to' chocolate cake recipe.  It comes from Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for More Food, and I think it is one of the first recipes I tried from the book.  I don't even need to look up the page number for the recipe anymore because the book is so worn in that section, I can find it just by shuffling through the pages.
The steps to make this cake and frosting are a bit unconventional (pulverizing chocolate, mixing the frosting over a bowl of ice), but the end result is well worth it.  The cake is, for lack of a better word, meaty, but not too dense or rich.  The chocolate is the star of the show and there are bits of chocolate speckled throughout that didn't get pulverized as much.  It is not too sweet, and leaves you begging for more.
The frosting is light, airy, and full of flavor.  I like to add a pinch of fine sea salt to the mix because I think it really compliments the chocolate.  The frosting is almost the consistency of dense whipped cream only with an intense chocolate flavor, and just melts in your mouth.  I'm not usually a fan of frosting, but this one is just as good as the cake.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go bake a cake...

Alton Brown's Fudge Cake
Printable recipe

3 oz unsweetened chocolate
10.75 oz (2 1/4 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 oz (1 stick) butter
13.5 oz (2 1/4 cups) brown sugar
8 oz (1 cup) full fat sour cream
8 oz (1 cup) boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 13 x 9 cake pan.

Pulverize chocolate in a food processor until fine, then add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and pulse to combine.  Combine the eggs and vanilla and lightly beat to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar.  Then add the egg and vanilla mixture.  Alternate adding three doses of the chocolate flour mixture and two doses of the sour cream.  Slowly add the boiling water and mix to combine, the batter will be loose.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then 15 minutes at 300 degrees. Internal temperature should reach 175-180F. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove to rack and allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
6.5 oz (1 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 oz (1/2 cup) whipping cream
8 oz (2 sticks) butter
10 oz (2 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
Bowl of ice

Melt butter, chocolate and cream in a saucepan (preferably with curved edges) over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and neat in the powdered sugar with a hand mixer.  Once the sugar is dissolved, place the pan into a bowl of ice.  Continue to beat until the frosting lightens and holds its shape.


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