Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flame Flavor

It seems as if we're been firing up the grill almost every night, lately. Not because it's been too hot to cook inside, but because it's so much fun to cook outside. With the coolish summer we've had, it's pleasant to stand near a bed of glowing coals as the sun sinks down, and of course the results of cooking great local meats and seasonal vegetables over hardwood coals are fantastic, the taste of summer, of which we cannot get enough.

The meat on the menu one night this past week at Bide-A-Wee was ribs, but not the long, long cooked pork spareribs that I
wrote about recently. Rather, these were beef short ribs, sliced very thin, in what I gather is the Korean manner, though I've also seen them cut this way at Mexican butchers along Lake Street. These particular ribs came from no ethnic butcher, but from our favorite local meat shop, Kristin Tombers's wonderful Clancey's Meats and Fish. And before they came from Clancey's, the ribs came from Hill and Vale farm in southeastern Minnesota, I do believe.

Nor do I mean to short-change the vegetables, for while we can indulge in great local meats year-'round, we gorge on the products of garden and farmers' market with particular glee at this time of year. The carrots are from our garden, the green beans and the patty-pan squash (especially delicious) came from Joe and Laura of
Honey Creek Farm at our market .

So: I was mixing up a bucket of "slip," a clay and water mixture the consistency of very heavy cream, in preparation for putting a layer of insulation on the
"Pootzy" earth oven next day, and it was getting rather late. I called out to Mary the ingredients for a marinade for the ribs:

"Two tablespoons of soy sauce, and...uh, a tablespoon and a half of maple syrup. Some vinegar, two teaspoons [she used red wine; cider or rice vinegar would be good, too], a splash of oil [canola]. Some garlic, a couple good cloves, just sliced--and about half an onion, slice that thin, too."

I stirred and stirred the bucket of slurry, like chocolate pudding before it's cooked.

"Pepper, a few good grinds. And a couple pinches of the espelette [you could use cayenne]," I called to Mary in the cabin.

The ribs got tossed with that in a big bowl, and took up those flavors while the fire died down to good cooking coals. We tossed the vegetables in what remained of the marinade, and grilled those, too. The carrots were small ones sliced in half the long way, blanched for a couple minutes in boiling water. The green beans, too, were blanched, and the squash grilled raw. (Obviously, you need to be a little careful grilling beans and baby carrots--just be sure to keep them aligned perpendicular to the grate; one of those grill pans with the holes in the bottom would be best.)

We cooked up a pot of jasmine rice--not local, of course, and rice is one of the non-local ingredients I would miss the most were we eating dogmatically local, which we're not, and being as how we are hard-core rice lovers that's one of the reasons we're not...eating dogmatically local, that is...anyway: Nice pot of jasmine rice. What's left of the marinade we put in a saucepan, and we added more soy, maple syrup, vinegar, plus a good slosh of the red wine we were drinking, and a quarter cup or so of water to make a sauce--simmer that to thicken it a little, and because the raw beef was in there.

The ribs take no time at all to cook. Keep flipping them over the flaming coals (they are fatty) until they've taken a good char on each side--a couple minutes each side in total. I don't think there's any better testimony regarding the final dish than this:

Text and photos copyright 2009 by Brett Laidlaw


HungryinSW said...

I love Clancey's and have some English cut short ribs in my ice box right now. Going to build a nice chile-based braising liquid to break those guys down in low and slow this weekend for a nice taco fiesta. I'm so lucky to have such a nice butcher shop right down the street...

Trout Caviar said...

Teddy, you are lucky to have Clancey's in your neighborhood. I keep bugging Kristin to open an east-metro branch--there is just no quick or direct route to Linden Hills from our part of St Paul. But then, every time I make the trek, it's more than worth it. The place is indispensible. Sometimes I wonder, Where did we go for such a range of great local meats before there was Clancey's? And the answer, I think, is we just couldn't get it. So, Linden Hills isn't that far away...!

Cheers~ Brett