Tag Archives: bbq

Braised Ribs

21 Jun

My son Martin really loves ribs.  He orders them any time he spots them on a menu, and when we talk about going to TX, his list of activities always include EATING RIBS (love that boy).  Unfortunately for him, I don’t make ribs at home very often.  It’s not that they are that hard really that hard, it’s just that the idea of grilling them up can be kind of daunting.  After you’ve had GREAT ribs, like those found at Coopers and The Salt Lick, it is pretty hard to make any ribs that measure up.  Since we are not in Texas and our access to THOSE ribs is limited, we decided to give making ribs a try.  And since baseball season is in full swing, leaving no time for a grilled meal, we went with the next best option:

Slow-cooked, braised ribs.

I started with a recipe I tried a few years ago for baby back ribs.  I remembered that they were really tender, but also felt like there were a lot of steps.  Using this recipe as a guide, I made some changes to better suit our tastes and to simplify it a bit.  I made two different sets of ribs, one for the child who hates all things spicy (salt, sugar, and ketchup only), and one set for the child who loves a touch of heat (peppery spice blend, sugar, BBQ sauce).  Both were good, but I preferred the peppery version.  The other big change to note is that I used Pork Loin Back Ribs instead of Baby Back Ribs.  I prefer the Pork Loin Back Ribs because they are meatier, with thicker chunks of meat on top of the bone.  The braising method makes the pork fall-off-the-bone tender, which is good for me because I hate gnawing on a rib like a caveman.  I like to look like a lady; a lady who really likes ribs.

When I made ribs this week, I was banking on baseball being cancelled due to rain.  The weather held out that night, and we did not have time to eat the dinner I had planned.  Instead of trying to cram in the tasty meal, I left them wrapped up and finished them with sauce the following night.  They were perfect.  I would highly recommend making these a day ahead, and finishing them to serve the next night.  These would be perfect for a crowd, as it would be just as easy to double or triple the recipe for more guests (or hungrier guests).

Braised Ribs
Serving size: Approx. 3 ribs
Serves: 6


3-1/2 lbs pork loin back ribs
1/2 c. white wine
1 T. cider vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire
1 T. ketchup
+ One of the options listed below

OPTION 1 (mild)
1 T. brown sugar
3/4 t. kosher salt

OPTION 2 (medium)
1 T. brown sugar
Peppery spice blend (recommend Coopers)
BBQ sauce (recommend Coopers & The Salt Lick Original, mixed)


Decide which spice blend option you prefer, then mix together the brown sugar and salt or pepper blend.  Divide the mixture evenly between each of the racks of ribs, sprinkle on top and lightly rub into the meat.  Completely wrap the rack of ribs in foil, leaving one end rolled for easy access later.  Place the foil-wrapped racks in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 250° F.

In a small container, mix together the wine, vinegar, Worcestershire, and ketchup.

Place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet.   Gently open one end of each of the foil packs and pour in some of the liquid.  Divide the liquid pretty evenly between each of the foil packets, then seal it back up.  Place the tray of ribs in the oven and cook for 2 hours.

If you are ready to serve, remove the ribs from the foil and return to the baking tray.   Top with the ketchup or BBQ sauce (depending on which Option you chose above) and spread it around a bit.  Increase oven temperature to 350° F, return ribs to oven, and cook for 15 minutes.

If you are making ahead, leave the ribs in the foil packets and refrigerate until you are almost ready to serve.  Place the wrapped ribs in the oven at 200 degrees and reheat for 30 minutes.   Top with ketchup or BBQ sauce and spread around a bit.  Increase oven temperature to 350° F, return ribs to oven, and cook for 15 minutes.


Estimated calories:  670 cal/serving

Print it: Braised Ribs

Brined Chicken Thighs

26 Jul

Last winter I tried my first ever brined turkey.  It was just as juicy and delicious as everyone said it would be.  It was easy to brine the turkey in the winter because during that time of year, my garage turns into a big walk-in cooler.  In July, the garage is more like the steam room at a spa (except slightly less glamorous and with fewer people wrapped in towels), so it’s not a good place to store anything while it brines.  Instead, I decided to give brining bone-in chicken thighs a try.  Much smaller in scale, they can be stored in the refrigerator in a brine solution.  Plus, I had a giant family sized pack of bone-in skin-on Gold’n Plump chicken thighs in the freezer.  This is important to note because I am super impatient when it comes to thawing.  It is a rare day when I think ahead far enough to remove food from the freezer in time to thaw properly in the refrigerator.  This time, I removed the chicken in the morning and put it in the fridge.  After a few hours, I could break apart the frozen thighs enough so that I could put them into the brine solution.  The thighs thawed completely while brining – accomplishing both tasks at the same time.  I like food that can multitask, especially when it helps to overcome my short-sighted thawing  skills.

Making a brine is super easy and it makes the chicken juicy and fully flavored.  The chicken can sit in the brine for just a few hours or up to a few days, depending on how good you are at planning and waiting.  I’m not very good at either, but this is a forgiving recipe and it was delicious even when brined for only 8 hours.

Brined Chicken Thighs
Serves: 4
Serving Size:  1 thigh

4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
8 c. water, divided
1/4 c. kosher salt
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. Coopers spice rub
1/2 c. Coopers sauce

In a pot over high heat, combine 2 c. water, kosher salt, brown sugar, and spice rub.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve salt.  Remove from heat, add remaining water and stir.  Set aside to cool.  When brine mixture has cooled, add chicken, cover, and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Before grilling, remove chicken from brine, rinse, and pat dry.  Grill chicken over direct heat for 7-10 minutes a side, then move to indirect heat for 7-10 minutes until chicken is firm and liquids run clear when pierced with a fork.  Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Remove skin, cut from bone, and serve with 2 T. sauce drizzled over the chicken.

Estimated Calories:  450 cal/serving

Print it: Brined Chicken Thighs

Life With Coopers is Better
Coopers BBQ is my favorite place to get good bbq when we’re in the Texas Hill Country.  When I’m not there, I make sure I’m fully stocked with Coopers spice rub and sauce.  The spice blend is a bit on the peppery side and makes everything it touches well seasoned and tasty.  While the rub is good, the sauce is great.  It is light, vinegary, and very liquidy.  Drizzle some over meat just after you pull it off the grill, use it for dunking, or add it to grilled vegetables for a light dressing. 

If you don’t have Coopers spice rub or sauce, you could substitute your favorite bbq spice rub and sauce.  YOU COULD.  But what you should do, is order some.  http://www.coopersbbq.com/  Or jump in your car immediately and drive on over.  Get there early in the day for the best choice of meats on the pits, then grab a bowl of beans (the only baked beans in the world I like), a glass of tea (sweet or unsweet), and enjoy.