By Todd Daniel Lancaster
WASHINGTON — I thought I would give you an easy rib recipe for tailgating.
Ribs are generally slow cooked and smoked, but unless you have all day at a tailgate with a smoker and a supply of wood, it is not as practical (or easy) as a lot of other things.
However, recently I went with a couple of racks of baby backs that I found on sale and did them without marinating and with only about 20 minutes of smoke.
I cooked them in just about 1 1/2 hours, and I think this could translate pretty well into a tailgate scenario for a taste of ribs without all the effort.
If you do get the chance, the night before the tailgate, marinate a couple of racks of baby backs in apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Transport them in a heavyweight, double-bagged plastic bags.
I like the baby backs because they are easier to cut up, have less fat and more meat than spare ribs.
I’m going to recommend a commercial dry rub (of your choice) because it is easy, can be purchased anywhere and packed away easily and it’s just more convenient.
I threw about 20 or 30 minutes of smoke on them in my smoker, but even if you don’t have a charcoal grill or smoker, you can always wrap a few hickory chips in foil and let it smoke in the bottom of a gas grill.
Coat the ribs with dry rub and cook them on the top rack of a gas grill (325 degrees) or over medium direct heat with charcoal for about one hour (flip regularly). After an hour wrap the ribs in foil, with a little cola or beer in the bottom of the “foil boat” and coat with commercial BBQ sauce. Continue cooking over medium direct heat for about another half an hour. The liquid in the bottom of the foil will steam and help break down the meat.
When the meat has pulled away from bone, coat the ribs with a little more sauce and give them a quick char over high heat before cutting them into individual ribs, which are easier to handle at a tailgate.
One trick to keeping ribs hot is get a small cooler and line it with foil and put the ribs in that. If they are really hot, they will continue to cook and get more tender while in the cooler.
For the tailgate libation of the week, I thought I would help you pair the right beer with your tailgate.
A good friend of mine says “you can’t drink Bud at a tailgate unless you ride a Harley — and everyone should have a Harley.” I’m not so sure about that and I think there are better choices, especially if you are in Bloomington, South Bend or West Lafayette.
In Bloomington, try the Upland Pale Ale, brewed right in Bloomington. If you are tailgating in late fall, the pale ale is a hearty flavorful ale that is great with food. Also, in Bloomington try Lennie’s Pub, which is home of the Bloomington Brewing Company. This is a great place to pick up a refillable growler (64 oz.) of any of their seasonal brews for a tailgate treat. I recently sampled the “double hop” IPA and thought it was wonderful.
If you are a fan of the Fighting Irish, you might want to stop by the Fourhorseman Brewing Company in South Bend. They also sell growlers for takeout and have extended hours on game days. They say the Black Irish Ale is first rate.
At a Purdue tailgate there is a real “region influence” from students from Chicago, so have a little Old Style on hand.
However, the Lafayette Brewing Company has been just across the river since 1993 and they also make award-winning craft beers. They currently have Harvest Moon pale ale on tap and these are available in 1-liter growlers.
The nice thing about these is they have the resealable swing tops which travel a little better.
Just remember where craft beers are concerned, think globally — drink locally.