Kitchen Witch - Cooking for the cook

Dry-Wet Ribs

Cooks are a pain in the ass to cook for. I should know, I’m one of them.

Friends tell me all the time that even the thought of cooking for me is intimidating, and I have been naïve enough to believe that my expertise is the barrier between me and those dinner invitations.

Yeah, expert control freak.

Always wanting to run the show, I am a bully even when the kitchen isn’t mine. I push my way in, elbowing for cutting board room and demanding a job that I am confident will yield superior results at the dinner table.

On my own turf, I’m worse — a narcissistic tyrant. Buffet dinner party for 30? That’s right, I do it solo. No, thanks, don’t you even think of bringing something to eat, you gastronomic dope, only a bottle of wine will do, thanks.

Intimidating? Awful is more like it.

After an emasculating experience attempting to cook dinner for me several months ago, the sweetheart, stalwart in his mission to do more than wash dishes or light the coals, recently ripped open a package of spare ribs and pronounced them HIS.

For a second, the bully in me appeared, but I quickly shut her up, and said, “Yes, they are. Cook me some ribs, baby.”

But then I knew that this time I had to stand by my words. I had to let go and be at peace with relinquishing control. I handed him a copy of How to Cook Meat and got out of the way.

Turns out he did a beautiful job slow-roasting the ribs in a dry paste, then grilling them on low heat to get an exterior crust that I can’t stop thinking about.

I’ve learned my lesson. And now he’s the boss of me.

Dry-Wet Ribs

Inspired by How to Cook Meat by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby

For 1 pound of spare ribs, apply the following:

Dry paste

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper

3 tablespoons orange juice (or beer, rum, tequila)

Juice of 1 lime

2 glugs of your favorite hot sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

Wet sauce

Make your own: 1/8 cup molasses, 1/4 cup ketchup, juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon cumin and a few glugs of your favorite hot sauce

Or buy it: I highly recommend Bone Suckin’ Sauce (bottled in Raleigh, N.C., and available online at www.bonesuckin.com).

• Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

• In a blender or food processor, combine paste ingredients and blend until smooth. Dry ribs with paper towels, then rub thoroughly with paste. Place on a baking tray and place in oven, slow-roasting for about 3 hours, or until meat is tender, receding from the bone. Remove ribs from oven.

• Ribs can move immediately to the grill or be refrigerated and covered for up to 2 days.

• Fire up your grill; you want a low fire, with rack high, if possible.

• Place ribs on grill. Within 30 minutes, you will notice a crust developing on outside of ribs. The longer you cook them, the better. Brush with sauce during last five minutes on grill.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.