Summer Grillin’ with the Guru – Raichlen’s Latest

Chefs, Cookbooks, Cooking, Recipes By May 26, 2011

Ginger-spiked baby back ribs are served with dipping sauce.

When it comes to innovative grilling, my first strategy is check out what Steven Raichlen is working on. His best-selling “Barbecue Bible” cookbook series (4 million copies in print) and PBS TV show series (“The Primal Grill” and “Barbecue University”) have helped people all over the world learn to grill.

Last summer when I was in Iceland, the entire front window of a Reykjavik bookstore was filled with Raichlen’s how-to-grill books. Yes, he gets around. And his culinary curiosity is never quenched.

His latest book “Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue!” (Workman, $22.95), takes readers around the globe, as he searches out the best grilling recipes from Argentina to Vietnam, Australia to Kenya.  Here is the recipe for the ribs he sampled in Cambodia:

Ginger, Garlic and Honey Grilled Baby Back Ribs
Yield: 4 servings
Ribs and Spice Paste:
4 racks true baby back ribs (each 3/4 to 1 pound) or 2 racks American baby back ribs (each 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), see cook’s notes
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce or more soy sauce
Dipping Sauce:
4 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
4 teaspoons ground white pepper
4 juicy limes, cut in half
Cook’s notes: There once was a time when baby back ribs really were “baby.” They came from Denmark, and the racks were so tender and small (three quarters to one pound), you could grill them directly like pork chops. This is the sort of baby backs you find in Cambodia. You can also grill full-size American baby backs this way, but you need to cut each rack in half before grilling.
1. Prepare ribs and spice paste: If necessary, remove the thin papery membrane from the back of each rack of ribs – some stores sell ribs with this removed. If you are using the larger racks of ribs, cut each in half. Place ribs in nonreactive baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer.
2. Place garlic, ginger, sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and black pepper in mortar and pound to a paste with pestle (or use a food processor). Work in the honey, soy sauce and fish sauce. Spread paste over the ribs on both sides. Refrigerate, covered, 1 to 4 hours; the longer the ribs marinate, the richer the flavor will be.
3. Prepare the ingredients for dipping sauce: Place 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon white pepper in neat mounds side by side in each of 4 tiny bowls for the dipping sauce. Place 2 lime halves next to each bowl.
4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium.
5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place ribs, bone side down, on hot grate and grill until golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes per side, a little longer for full-size ribs. Watch for flare-ups. Should they occur, move the ribs to another section of the grill. When the ribs are done, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch.
6. Transfer the racks of ribs to a cutting board and cut them into individual ribs, then arrange them on a platter or plates for serving. Just before eating, instruct your guests to squeeze 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice into their bowls of salt and pepper and stir with chopsticks until mixed. Dip each rib into the sauce before eating.
Source: “Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue!” by Steven Raichlen (Workman, $22.95)

Caveman T-Bones, Indeed

On a beef-loving theme, Raichlen told me that he adores the Caveman T-Bones with Hellfire Hot Sauce, a recipe that he said is “primordial and universal.”

To get the full effect of this technique, you need a charcoal grill rather than a gas rig. The T-bones are charred directly on the embers, then topped with an incendiary sauce that showcases cilantro, garlic and jalapenos.

Caveman, you bet. If you think the sauce may be just too spicy-hot for your palate, cut down on the chilies. Use only 2 or 3 chilies, augmenting the concoction with 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper; the garlic and cilantro will take center stage. Rename the sauce. Maybe Angel Wing Relish?

Caveman T-Bones with Hellfire Hot Sauce
Yield: 4 very hungry eaters
4 T-bone steaks, about 1 1/4-inches thick and 12 to 14 ounces
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and cracked black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 jalapeno chilies, thinly sliced crosswise, see cook’s notes
10 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly slices
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Cook’s notes: For cooking the sauce on the grill, you will need a long-handled 8- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Use caution when working with fresh chilies. Upon completion, wash work surface thoroughly and do NOT touch face or eyes.
If your palate prefers a milder sauce, cut down on the chilies. Use only 2 or 3 chilies, augmenting the mixture with 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper.
1. Grill steaks: Build a charcoal fire with natural lump charcoal or wood and rake the coals into an even layer (leave the front third of the grill coal free). When the coals glow orange, fan them with a newspaper to blow off any loose ash.
2. Generously, and I mean generously, season the steaks on both sides with salt and cracked pepper. Use the longest possible tongs and heavy grill gloves to protect your hands. Place the steaks directly on the embers about 2 inches apart. Grill the steaks until cooked to taste, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium rare, turning with tongs.
3. Using tongs, lift the steaks out of the fire, shaking each to dislodge any embers. Using a natural-bristle basting brush, brush off any loose ash and arrange the steaks on a platter. Cover the steaks loosely with aluminum foil. Let them rest while you make the sauce.
4. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet directly on the embers, or on the stove. When oil is hot, add jalapenos, garlic and cilantro. Cook the sauce over high heat until the jalapenos and garlic begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour sauce over the steaks and go for it.
Source: “Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue!” by Steven Raichlen (Workman, $22.95)

Ribs at sunset!

Not bad.

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