Believe it or not, you can actually make your own super tender spicy baby back ribs in your kitchen. Southerners are famous for their smoked ribs but it’s actually very easy to get similar results at home and you don’t even need a smoker, all you need is an oven and a BBQ! And even if you don’t have a BBQ, you can even use the broiler in you oven to caramelize them.
These are so easy to prepare you won’t believe it. All the work is done in the oven with very little involvement from you. The secret to super tender ribs is to slow cook them in your oven at a very low temperature for 5 hours, that’s it! This is the perfect recipe when hosting a BBQ for a large group as it takes little effort, and everything can be prepared in advance except for the final stage at the BBQ where you caramelize the ribs with the sauce.
I must however outline just a few tips when buying the pork ribs. We’re actually fortunate in Quebec for having some of the best pork around, however this may not be the case everywhere else. Since there are no grades of pork as there are with beef, to ensure you get the best pork ribs simply pick a rack that has a deep pink colour.
Additionally, note that before we apply the rub on the ribs, it is also important to remove the membrane, which is found on the back of the bone-side of the ribs. This is however the most difficult thing to do as sometimes it all comes off in one piece and other times you just have to go at it in strips.
The best way to remove the membrane is to start at the narrowest end of the ribs on the bone-side of the ribs, and at this point, using your knife, lift up the corner of the membrane so you can grab a hold of it. Then grab the corner of the membrane with a paper towel and pull it straight up and away from the rack of ribs, sometimes it helps to just to run your fingers under it to push it along. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound like much fun but that’s really the only hard part in preparing these ribs! Trust me it will be worth it and once you do a few of these you’ll get the hang of it!
4 half racks of baby back ribs
3 tablespoons chili powder
salt and freshly ground pepper
BBQ sauce ingredients:
1 cup tomato ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup honey
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
spicy baby back ribs
Cut a piece of aluminum foil double the length of a rib rack and place it on a baking sheet.
Once you have removed the membrane from the back of the pork ribs, place two racks on each baking sheet and sprinkle the chili powder all over both sides of the ribs and massage it in. If time permits it’s best to refrigerate the ribs, uncovered, for an hour or so, which will help the rub infuse the meat.
Preheat oven to 250oF. Fold the foil over the ribs so all the meat is covered and fold over all the edges to make a bundle. Then cut a couple of small vents with a knife on the top of each bundle.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 3 hours.
Then reduce the heat to 225oF and bake for another 2 hours.
After cooking for 5 hours the meat should be very tender and the meat should have started shrinking away from the bones.
While you are heating up the BBQ to high, you can prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan stir together all of the ingredients for the sauce and place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook sauce uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all of the flavours are well blended for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.
When ready to BBQ, oil the BBQ rack, season the ribs lightly with salt and pepper and and brush the top of the ribs liberally with the sauce and place face down (the side with the sauce) on the BBQ grill. (If you do not have a BBQ or just want to do these in the winter, preheat your oven broiler to high and place ribs face up with sauce on an oiled rack in a broiler pan.) Grill the ribs until caramelized, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Then turn ribs over and brush with additional sauce, and cook until caramelized for another 8 minutes.
Transfer ribs to a serving plate. For the perfect BBQ serve with corn on the cob and buttermilk coleslaw! Buttermilk coleslaw recipe follows!
The beauty of spring is that we no longer have to buy expensive fresh herbs from the grocery store, which often go bad before we get to use them all up. We are now able to pick our own fresh herbs either from a window box or a home garden. There’s nothing like using fresh herbs and here’s a pesto recipe that will beautifully leverage the bright flavours of the fresh herbs in your garden.
This is an updated version of the pasta served with pesto. The pesto is comprised of four herbs which you should hopefully have in your herb box or garden; parsley, tarragon, sage and basil. The difference between the basil pesto and this four herb pesto is that these herbs are chopped and not taken through the blender so the flavours of each herb is much more prominent. The four-herb pesto spaghettini can be served as is for a vegetarian option, but if you enjoy a little protein as I do, you can simply top the pasta with chopped strips of prosciutto as I have done here.
The pesto can be prepared a few hours in advance and then combined with cooked pasta when ready to serve.
four-herb pesto spaghettini
½ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon lightly packed fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon lightly packed fresh sage leaves
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
spaghettini for two
pinch of freshly ground pepper & kosher salt
2 slices of prosciutto (optional)
four-herb pesto spaghettini
Boil lightly salted water in a large pot over medium-high heat for the spaghettini.
Finely chop the parsley, basil, tarragon, and sage and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice on the herbs and coat the herbs with the lemon juice.
Combine the garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts in the blender or food processor. Then add the olive oil slowly as the machine is still running and process until mixture is creamy and fully blended.
Pour this oil mixture into the bowl with the herbs and stir to combine.
Add the spaghettini to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions.
If you wish to top the pasta with prosciutto, while the pasta is cooking chop the prosciutto into ribbons and set aside.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and transfer to a serving bowl and toss pasta with the pesto, a pinch or two of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Spring is here and the BBQ is starting to work overtime! Here’s my favourite grilled lamb chop recipe, not only because it is super easy to prepare but most importantly because I wooed the man I would marry on the third date with these lamb chops!
They say you can win a man’s heart through his stomach. I’m sure there’s more to that, but I agree that good food does help! And serving lamb with mint jelly just doesn’t cut it, so if you want to make a lasting impression, whether for your date or for your guests, the best way to savour lamb chops is by grilling them on the BBQ with a herbes de provence marinade.
lamb chops with herbes de provence
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon dried herbes de provences
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 medium size lamb chops, trimmed of fat
squeeze of lemon
Mix first 6 ingredients together in a small bowl.
Rub marinade lightly on each of side of the chops, you don’t want the marinade to overpower the meat as the meat is so flavourful.
Let chops sit at room temperature for a half an hour. Or you can cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours, just make sure to let the chops stand at room temperature at least 20 minutes before grilling.
Heat grill at medium-high and grill each chop for 3-4 minutes each side depending on thickness (about 3 minutes if an inch thick and 4 minutes if thicker). Ideally lamb chops should be served medium-rare to medium, often referred to as rosé.
You can then let chops rest for 5 minutes before serving and then just squeeze a little lemon on top of each chop.
These lamb chops go well with a Greek salad. That’s it, it’s that easy!
There’s still snow on the ground here in Montreal, so sadly it’s not BBQ weather just yet, which means that we’re still braising our meat! So once again we’re taking out the Dutch oven.
This time, the short ribs are braised Asian-style. It’s got a little spice and a little sweetness and that combination makes this one extremely popular amongst our friends who have sampled them. And we know this because there’s never any leftovers as everyone has asked for seconds and the plates are wiped clean!
This is another great option for a dinner party, as with all braised meats, they are even better tasting prepared a day ahead. It’s also an easy prep, only requires one pot, in this case, a Dutch oven. These can simply be served on a bed of rice and a bold red wine will go extraordinarily well.
asian braised short ribs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ½ lbs (2 kg) beef short ribs, cut Korean-style
¼ cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 4 pieces, halved lengthwise and crushed with a meat pounder
1 cup beef broth
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup hoisin sauce
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons chile garlic sauce (Siracha), if you like it very spicy feel free to add more Siracha
green onion, finely chopped for garnish
asian short ribs with green onion rice
Preheat oven to 350oF (180oC).
On a plate, stir together flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Dry the short ribs with a paper towel and coat them all with the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat the canola oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then cook the short ribs in the oil, turning occasionally, until browned for about 15 minutes. Remove ribs from the Dutch oven and set aside.
In the Dutch oven, add the garlic, green onions, ginger, red pepper flakes and lemongrass and sauté for about 1 minutes, until fragrant.
Pour in beef broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Then stir in the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and chile-garlic sauce. Bring to a boil.
Cover Dutch oven and transfer to oven and cook until the ribs are tender, between 2 hours and 2 ½ hours.
When ribs are ready, place Dutch oven on stove and remove ribs and place aside. Then remove bones and lemongrass from pan and discard. Separate fat from sauce, using a fat separator and return sauce and ribs to Dutch oven. If you happen to only serve them the next day you can skip the fat separator and just refrigerate them and before reheating the short ribs just remove the congealed fat from surface of the short ribs.
When ready to serve, just simply place a few ribs over white rice and spoon sauce over ribs and rice. You can also add on top some finely chopped green onions for garnish.
In the above photos we have served the asian short ribs with green onion rice, which goes particularly well with the ribs. This is a super easy rice which can be prepared in the microwave oven, yep, the microwave oven! The recipe for the green onion rice will be posted following this post.
Even though both my husband and I are avid meat eaters, we do, of course, enjoy cooking and eating fish as well. In most situations fish is best when it is cooked with few ingredients, so as not to overpower the delicate taste of the fish. However there are always exceptions and this recipe, cod served with a coconut green curry broth, is one of those favoured recipes.
We not only love the combination of flavours but it is a favourite because it is a quick and easy weeknight recipe which requires only one pan. Yes, one pan, now that makes for easy clean up on a weeknight!
cod in coconut curry broth
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon green curry paste
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 can (398 ml/13.4 fl oz) coconut milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 lb cod or halibut, cut into 2-inch chunks
¼ cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped finely
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped finely
1 cup cooked jasmine rice, as per packaging instructions
cod in coconut curry broth
Heat oil in a large high saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir curry paste and ginger in hot oil for about 1 minute.
Pour coconut milk and stir to boil and reduce by half for about 10 minutes. If you wish to lower the fat content, feel free to use light coconut milk but allocate a little more time to reduce the liquid by half.
In the meantime, cook rice in a separate saucepan as per instructions on packaging.
Once coconut milk broth is reduced by half, add chicken stock, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice to pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and add chunks of cod to broth and poach fish for 3 to 4 minutes.
Carefully remove cod pieces from saucepan and divide equally into 2 low soup bowls and keep fish warm in oven at about 200oF.
While fish stays warm, bring broth to boil and reduce for 5 minutes. Add carrots to broth and cook for another 3 minutes. Then add cherry tomatoes and basil and cook another 2 minutes.
Taste, and if desired, add salt, pepper or more lime as needed. Remove soup bowls from oven and plate cooked rice with fish and pour broth over rice and fish. Garnish plate with coriander and serve.
Perhaps this might become a weeknight favourite for you as it is for us!
Yes, the Super bowl gives you the best excuse to have chili, but why limit yourself to Super Bowl to indulge on chili? Chili is not only nutritious (lean meats and fibre from the beans) but it’s easy to make, can be prepared in advance and even frozen for a quick weeknight meal. The chili can be kept in the freezer for about a month.
If you don’t already have a favourite family chili recipe, here’s one which has a little bit of heat but not too much, so everyone in the family can enjoy it. Unlike the Texan chili, this one does include tomatoes and beans. There’s even beer in it too! You can make it exclusively with ground beef, but I prefer to mix up and add ground veal to the ground beef. Another variance is to substitute the ground veal for ground lamb.
The best part about this chili is what I call the “accoutrements”, or the toppings, if you prefer. The toppings bring it to another level and allow those eating the chili to tailor it to their own taste with more or less sour cream, cilantro, onions and/or lime.
This recipe slowly simmers for about an hour and half and will serve 8 to 10.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (500 ml) chopped onions
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 lbs (900 grams) lean ground beef
1 lb (454 grams) lean ground veal
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you want a hotter chili
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 14 fl oz can (398 ml) diced tomatoes with juice
1 ½ cup (375 ml) low sodium beef broth
1 bottle of dark beer, Guinness
½ small can of tomato paste
1 19 fl oz can (540 ml) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 19 fl oz can (540 ml) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream (light sour cream is just as good, if you’re watching the fat content)
1 small red onion, minced
¼ cup (60 ml) cilantro, minced
2 limes, cut into wedges
Heat oil in the Dutch oven or large 4 to 5 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté onions until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and heat for 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add ground beef and veal and sauté until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano and thyme and stir in.
Mix in diced tomatoes, beef broth, beer, tomato paste and beans.
Simmer in Dutch oven on the stove top for about 1 ½ hours. Make sure to simmer over low heat or else you will loose too much of the liquid and dry it out. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you don’t find it spicy enough for your taste, you can simply just add a little more cayenne pepper.
chili and toppings
Serve chili into warmed bowls and let guests garnish their portions of chili with sour cream, onions, cilantro and/or lime. You can also serve tortilla chips and do as my parents do, use the tortilla chips to scoop up every bite of chili! Serve with beer and enjoy the game!