Barbecue Ribs


Growing up in Louisiana, every season was barbecue season.  The weather was never too cold to throw open the pit, pile on a colossal amount of marinated meat, and let all the flavors socialize for hours under a blanket of smoke.  I have watched my grandmother and grandfather (whom I lovingly refer to as paw-paw) barbecue since I can remember. Grandma was like a magician with barbecue. We would drive down her driveway, and I would spot the silver, barrel-like pit next to the house. I knew automatically it was going to be a fantastic day. I would walk into her kitchen and the smell of sweet rolls and smoked meat met me at the threshold.  There, on the counter, was a pile of chicken, sausage and brisket that had been covered in a cloud of smoke until perfectly cooked, juicy and scrumptious.

Paw-paw, being the most patient man I know, treated barbecue like a work of art. He would baste the meat every thirty minutes or so with Jack Miller’s Bar-B-Que Sauce to add even more flavor to the meat. The women would be in the kitchen fixing all of the trimmings: potato salad, garlic bread, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and baked beans. There would be a picnic table with red-checkered tablecloth set up under the oak tree with all of the barbeque and fixings stacked high. That’s how I remember barbecue. The warmth of the pit would be like the warmth of the oven in the kitchen. It brought people together. The barbecue pit was as much of a hearth for my family as the kitchen was.


Recipe: Serves 12

3 racks of baby back ribs

2 slices of bacon

Extra- virgin olive oil

½ onion

2 garlic cloves

2 cups of ketchup

1 Tbs. of dry mustard

1 Tbs. of red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 285o

Season ribs and wrap the ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil and place them on a baking sheet. Cook them low and slow for about 3 hours.

To make the sauce:

Cook bacon on a saucepot until brown. Add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add ketchup, dry mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until all of the ingredients are melded together. Slather the sauce on the ribs when they come out of the oven. Put them back in the oven for 15 minutes until sticky and delicious.



Chicken Étoufée

Étoufée is not the most attractive plate ever. This dish will never win a beauty pageant. But as all dishes prepared with roux and love, the outcome is wonderful. Honestly, étoufée is most unsightly when preparing but after it has time to settle in and gain some confidence, it begins to have body and a lovely aroma commences to seep out of the pot. I frequently find myself with my face over the vessel inhaling for at least half an hour. There is something paranormal that happens as this liquid, vegetable mixture thickens and bubbles and brews. I don’t mind the dirty looks from the frequent spectators. It’s my prerogative. This dish is humbly served over rice, and if you close your eyes as you eat it, it turns into the most beautiful entity ever. No contest required, this dish wins the crown.

* This recipe is more “blonde” than most étoufées and I use chicken instead of the most traditional seafood étouffée.

 Recipe: Serves 8-10: Adapted from Commander’s Kitchen

1 Chicken, broken down, wings and backbone reserved for a stock

1 cup of flour

1 cup of vegetable oil

4 onions, chopped

4 bell peppers, 2 red and 2 green, chopped

30 (yes, 30) garlic cloves, sliced

4 jalapenos, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp. of red pepper flakes

6 cups of water

Salt, black pepper and red pepper

In a large, heavy pot heat oil on medium-high to high heat until smoking. Season chicken with seasoning and dust with a portion of the flour. Brown in the pot for about 10 minutes. Work in batches. Take chicken out of the pot and add the vegetables to the pot. Mix the vegetables into the hot oil and season. Add red pepper flakes. Put a lid on the pot and let cook for 12 minutes. Stir the vegetables, add the rest of the flour and continue stirring until combined. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has cooked out of the pot. This could take 10-20 minutes. Add the water and season again. Add the chicken to the pot. Bring the étoufée to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 25-30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and flavorful. Debone the chicken and return to the pot. Make sure to season the pot again before serving. Serve over rice.