Thursday, June 26, 2008

by popular demand: on ribs

Rose: Why do men chase women?
Johnny: Well, there's a Bible story... God... God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back. When God took the rib, he left a big hole there, where there used to be something. And the women have that. Now maybe, just maybe, a man isn't complete as a man without a woman.
Rose: [frustrated] But why would a man need more than one woman?
Johnny: I don't know. Maybe because he fears death.
[Rose looks up, eyes wide, suspicions confirmed]
Rose: That's it! That's the reason!
Johnny: I don't know...
Rose: No! That's it! Thank you! Thank you for answering my question!


I love Moonstruck. It’s on my Varying Top 5 Favorite Movies list, along with Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, A Fish Called Wanda, and Steel Magnolias. Okay okay, in defense of that last pick, I’m no girly girl, but I just love Steel Magnolias, and, along with half of the gay men in Atlanta, know the entire movie by heart.

What is it about ribs that we love so much? For me, the first obvious reason is that I like to eat with my hands. Ribs, along with fried chicken and buffalo wings, are one of those foods that you really have no choice but to eat with your hands; however, you can get away with it and throw all etiquette out the window. Eating something delicious with your hands is truly a very satisfying experience.

This is what I loved about my rehearsal dinner. The boy and I held our rehearsal dinner at Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis, where long wooden tables covered in paper have bushels of steamed crab dumped right smack in the middle along with cans of cheap beer. My mother was aghast, totally upset about the situation. She stood there scowling in her $200 outfit, bedecked in diamonds and perfect manicure, glaring at the humble surroundings (until Al Roker walked in, and then she deemed herself worthy of gracing the place – and to this day all she talks about is Hal Roh Kaire! Hal Roh Kaire! but that’s another story). Before long, after a brief tutorial by my sister-in-law on how to eat a steamed Maryland blue crab, all my French family was digging in and had crab all over their faces and forearms. My uncle Guy ate at least 20 (no joke!) and was having the time of his life.

I previously mentioned that the boy has been doing a lot of homework on smokers, and has had good luck with working jointly with Ken using Ken’s smoker. For the inaugural use of his newly purchased smoker, the boy made ribs. He followed this link for smoking instructions (I just love that title! Porknography!), and made a couple of mason jars worth of the Memphis Magic Dust to use right then and to have on hand for future ribbing. He was a little skeptical about the use of ground ginger, but he needn’t have worried, as the end result was fantastic.

For a finishing barbecue sauce, which you could slather all over the ribs or serve on the side if you’re a rib purist, I made a variation of Bobby Flay’s mesa barbecue sauce. I used canned whole tomatoes instead of raw, and used regular chili powder in place of the ancho and pasilla chili powders.

For years, ribs have been the bane of the boy’s culinary existence. He’s always wanted to cook a proper rib slab. He’s made them before, but not without a lot of last minute and post-cooking tweaking to get the ribs just so. I always enjoyed his previous results, but now that he’s spoiled me with this new incarnation of them, he and I will only want them this way. There is just nothing like a good smoked slab of ribs. You come to visit us, and we'll make you ribs.

I don’t have any pictures of what the ribs looked like after they were done cooking. We were in the middle of plating up when the boy mentioned that we ought to take pictures, but I was feeling selfish and the glutton in me wanted to eat, and I blurted out, “BUT I’M HUNGRY!”. And then I ate. Milles excuses.

3 comments:

Badger said...

I love Cantler's! I haven't been there in probably 20 years or so, but it's very authentic, and you can't beat the crabs. One of my best friends worked there when we were in high school. Good times!

french tart said...

amy, the boy worked at cantler's when he was in high school as well!

Badger said...

I don't think I ever knew that! If I did, it's somewhere in the very cobwebby part of my brain...