Smoky-sweet ribs recipe from a “King of Porc”? Yes, please.


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Treat your guests to a backyard barbecue menu with recipes from acclaimed chef and three-time James Beard Award semifinalist Thomas Boemer. As co-owner of the popular Minneapolis and St. Paul dining destinations Corner Table and Revival, and of the forthcoming restaurants In Bloom and Revival Smokehouse, he knows a thing or two about whipping up a tasty 'cue. Dubbed the "King of Porc" after a win at Grand Cochon 555 in 2015, Boemer’s Southern background adds flair and flavor to his recipes for summer cookouts, picnics, and barbecues.

As Boemer puts it, "Ribs are the outdoor celebration food!" so whether you're celebrating something big or small (a good-weather day certainly counts), fire up the grill or smoker and get ready to make a meal that embodies summer: ribs, a summer salad, and pie.

A dry rub of salt, pepper, and brown sugar on ribs smoked low and slow for several hours makes them perfectly caramelized, smoky-sweet, and fall-off-the-bone. A refreshing summer salad of ripe, cubed watermelon, goat cheese, and watercress or arugula topped with a candied pecan and molasses vinaigrette is picnic-perfect to add to the meal, and pie gets colorful when it’s rosy rhubarb and blueberries with crumble topping.

Before you get barbecuing, check out some of Boemer's tips: 

  • On common mistakes: "The most common BBQ mistake is not resting meat. After you spend a glorious day smoking a brisket or pork shoulder, don’t forget to let it rest covered for approximately a quarter of the cooking time in a warm place."
  • On unexpected flavor pairings that work well together: "I love adding fresh fruits, especially seasonal berries and stone fruits to barbecue. Great for wild birds like pheasant, turkey, and duck."
  • On beer, wine, and cocktail pairings for this meal: "BBQ and whiskey are a perfect pairing. Try an Old Fashioned with the brown sugar ribs and you will be forever happy!"

 

Brown Sugar Ribs 

Makes 2 servings

1 (3- to 4-pound) rack St. Louis ribs (spare ribs)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup beer

1. Combine brown sugar, black pepper, dry mustard, and salt to form rub. Reserve half of rub for the glaze.

2. Peel membrane on back of the ribs (or this can be done by your local butcher). Work the rub into the ribs.

3. Combine reserved rub with beer in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes. 

4. Smoke, covered, on hickory wood for 4 to 6 hours at 225°F. You can use either a smoker or a charcoal grill using an indirect grilling method—building the charcoal fire on one side of the grill and placing the meat on the other side. Wood chips can be added to give the smoke flavor. 

5. Test ribs by bending the rack with tongs. If the meat breaks away slightly, it’s done. If the ribs hold together and resist bending they need more time. Glaze ribs with brown sugar glaze and allow to rest tented with foil in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Watermelon Salad  

Makes 4 servings

1 (5-pound) watermelon, cut in 1-inch cubes

For the Molasses Vinaigrette
¾ cup salad oil
¼ cup molasses 
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons salt

For the Spiced Pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne 
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup pecans

1 bag (4 to 5 ounces) watercress or arugula
8 ounces goat cheese

1. Make the Molasses Vinaigrette: In a blender combine the oil, molasses, vinegar, mustard, and the salt. Set aside.

2. Make the Spiced Pecans: Combine brown sugar, cayenne, salt, and orange juice in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 5 minutes until it reaches a syrup consistency. Toss pecans in the syrup and place in a 350°F oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet until crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool on tray.

3. To compose the salad, dress the watermelon, greens, and goat cheese with the Molasses Vinaigrette and top with spiced pecans.

 

Revival Bluebarb Pie 

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie, about 6 to 8 servings

For the Crust 
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup ice cold water (approximately)

For the Filling
4 cups rhubarb, cut into approximately ½-inch pieces. If stalk is thick, cut in half lengthwise before slicing
2 cups blueberries, washed, and stems removed
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla
pinch of lemon zest
juice of one lemon

For the Crumble Topping 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt
½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
¼ cup melted butter

whipped cream or mascarpone, for serving (optional)

1. For the crust: Cut butter into flour pressing the chilled cubes into the flour, and then salt.  When the butter is flattened and mostly incorporated add the ice water little by little until the dough barely holds together. Form the dough in a ball covered with plastic wrap and press flat to about 1-inch thickness. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

2. When ready, roll out the dough to a 12 to 13-inch circle and place in pie tin. Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust. Trim the excess crust to just outside the tin, then using thumb and forefinger from each hand, crimp the edge to a flute. Place in freezer for 30 minutes before filling. Before starting the filling, preheat oven to 375°F. 

3. To make the filling, place all fruit in a large bowl, top with all other ingredients, and mix thoroughly so all fruit is covered with slurry. Pour into prepared pie shell. Evenly distribute fruit, leaving a slight dome toward the center. Reduce amount of filling if your tin is smaller than 9 inches to prevent overflow of juices.

4. For the crumble top: Using a fork, mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, drizzle melted butter over dry mixture, and mix until even consistency (it should look like very wet sand). Spread evenly over fruit filling before baking. 

5. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes in a conventional oven or for 20 minutes in a convection oven. Check for browning of crust and rotate if necessary. Once pie has reached desired browning on crust, tent loosely with foil and reduce heat to 350°F. Bake a further 30 to 40 minutes, until pie temperature reaches 190°F in three places when tested. The juices will be bubbling and no longer cloudy. Cool completely before cutting, and serve with vanilla whipped cream, if desired. 

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