Pork

Margarita-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

by Shawnda on July 7, 2014

in Mexican & TexMex,On the grill,Pork

Margarita-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Everyone has someone in their family that is the go-to person for cooking a specific dish. In my family, I am not that person for ribs.

But I have not given up.

Margarita-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

At a cookout in 2011, with a Fine Cooking magazine in one hand and a margarita in the other (possibly my problem), I slapped my very first rack of ribs on the grill while a hungry group of people salivated.

30 minutes later, I was in the kitchen trying to pick off scorched foil from scorched meat – or maybe it was bone… it was all black, hard, and crusty and there was very little distinguishing the two. And Jason was outside trying to prevent the garage from catching fire.

It wasn’t a total loss. Just maybe half the ribs. And 7/8 of my pride.

Margarita-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

This year, with my trusty ol’ Fine Cooking magazine in one hand (I still had it and just dropped it into the recycling bin today) and a margarita in the other (clearly not the problem!), I slapped my I-have-lost-count rack of ribs on the grill while (fewer) hungry people salivated. And then 2 hours later, I texted my little brother: My streak of not burning the ribs and my house down is at 3 years!

These are, hands down, my very favorite ribs that my little brother doesn’t make. And only partly because the recipe uses 4 shots of tequila.

Baby back ribs are marinated overnight in a tequila-citrus-chile powder marinade that’s reduced with – wait for it – more tequila and citrus. The grilled, fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs are finished with the “margarita glaze” before they are inhaled by your family and everyone is left staring at you wondering why you didn’t make more.

Margarita Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Tender baby back ribs are marinated and glazed with tequila and citrus.

Ingredients

  • For the marinade:
  • 2 racks (~4 lbs) pork baby back ribs
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • Juice of two limes, zest from 1
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • Fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Cut each rack of ribs in half and place 2 sections each in a gallon zipper bag.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour half into each bag.
  3. Seal the bags, turn to coat, and place in a baking dish in the fridge.
  4. Let marinate overnight, turning a couple of times.
  5. Transfer the marinade to a pot and add the glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Reduce glaze to a thick sauce.
  7. Heat grill to 250-300 degrees.
  8. Wrap each rib section in a foil pouch and cook (indirect heat recommended but my grill isn't big enough to accommodate two racks over indirect heat).
  9. Cook for ~90 minutes and tear into one of the pouches to see if the meat is tender and is pulling from the bone.
  10. Carefully open the foil pouches and glaze the ribs, leaving the foil peeled back so the sauce will caramelize.
  11. Cook for 5 minutes and then glaze again.
  12. Repeat and then transfer to a foil-tented platter to rest for 10 minutes.
  13. Cut ribs and serve any remaining glaze on the side as a sauce.

Notes

Yields: "12" servings (don't count on it)

Barely adapted from Fine Cooking

Estimated time: 14 hours 30 minutes

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Sweet Potato & Spinach Carbonara

My friend Katie has been called The Carbonara Queen. Crab, jalapeno & corn, BLT, lemon & spinach. If it can be whisked into that creamy sauce of bacon, pepper, eggs, and cheese, she has done it.

She’s kind of my Pasta Patronus. And I’d like to be just like her when I grow up:

Zucchini Carbonara Roasted Broccoli Carbonara Fettuccine alla Carbonara

One of her last Carbonara creations was a beautiful stomach-growl-inducing adaptation: Butternut Squash & Spinach Carbonara.

I didn’t have butternut squash – or the desire to put on pants and mascara to go get some (that’s my minimum to go in public) – but I did have sweet potatoes. I pulled out my favorite basic carbonara recipe, a few slices of bacon, and was on my way to what would quickly become a house-favorite carbonara.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Carbonara

It’s because there’s bacon. And diced sweet potatoes that are cooked in bacon drippings until nicely caramelized, and then tossed with hot pasta and wilted fresh spinach until a beautiful, peppery, creamy sauce forms from the bacon, eggs, and cheese.

And bacon.

Carbonara is really the closest thing I can get to meatless meal without the natives rebelling. Or complaining about “spinach again?” But with this one, everyone wins here.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Carbonara

Creamy, peppery carbonara with caramelized sweet potatoes and fresh spinach.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/3-inch slices and then diced
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 oz finely grated Parmesan (about 1 3/4 cup), divided
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until almost completely crisped.
  2. When the bacon has completely browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the entire recipe).
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until nicely browned and fork-tender (but not mushy), about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  4. Add the black pepper and spinach, cover, and turn off the heat - let sit ~2 minutes, until the spinach has wilted.
  5. Mix the eggs and 1 1/2 cups cheese together with the bacon, stirring to mix well.
  6. Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
  7. Immediately add the hot pasta and a splash or two of the hot pasta water (~2 Tbsp at a time) to the bowl with the bacon mixture, while stirring/tossing vigorously to create a creamy sauce.
  8. Toss in the sweet potato mixture and additional splashes of pasta water if necessary to adjust sauce consistency (and if you add too much water, just let the pasta stand for a few minutes).
  9. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Inspired by So Tasty, So Yummy

Estimated time: 35 minutes

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Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

So remember that roasted cauliflower? You know, the healthy side dish that once actually grew in the ground? The eat-straight-from-the-pan lunch that wasn’t candy-coated or Funyuns?

This is what I did with the leftovers.

Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

I took one of our favorite versions of carbonara, which replaces half of the pasta with plant things (this time leftover roasted cauliflower) and had an instant winner on my hands.

Honestly, there’s a little bit of bacon and there’s some Parmesan along with those glorious carbs… so anyone who declared that dish a “you don’t need to make this again” would probably be forwarding their mail at this point.

Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

Roasted cauliflower replaces half of the pasta in this traditional carbonara.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (or more) roasted cauliflower*
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan (~3 oz), divided
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • *If you're cooking the cauliflower, put it in the oven before you start cooking the pasta.

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until almost completely crisped.
  2. Add the black pepper and, when the bacon has completely browned, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the entire recipe).
  3. Mix the eggs and 1 1/2 cups cheese together in a smaller bowl, then add to the bacon mixture, stirring to mix well.
  4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
  5. Immediately add the hot pasta and a splash or two of the hot pasta water (~2 Tbsp at a time) to the bowl, while stirring vigorously to create a creamy sauce.
  6. Add the cauliflower, toss to coat (adding additional water if necessary).
  7. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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Baked Croque Monsieur Sliders

The internet has given us a great, great many gifts.

Cats. And not the happy ones. Although I’m in the camp that believes that there is no such thing as a happy cat. (And if the lighting is right and you worked hard enough, you might have seen the scar on my hip to back up my claim.)

Keep Calm and Beer Me

Keep Calm And [Do Everything!]. Keeping calm, I’m not so good at. It requires a lot of effort, much more than over-reacting and waving my hands around and yelling does. Plus, if I’m freaking out, I’m occupied and therefore not quietly scheming a way to hide your body. We all win, here.

Message boards. For EVERYTHING. You dig tractors? Royal wardrobes? Mountain biking? Or are you a 30-something woman with possibly a borderline-unhealthy and definitely weird The Little Mermaid fascination? (OMG, guys! The 3D/Blu-Ray has finally been released!!!!) You have a virtual home where you won’t be judged. (Openly, by people using their real name.)

Baked Croque Monsieur Sliders

But better than all of that – and almost even better than ProFootballMock’s QBs on Facebook – are those baked ham & cheese sliders. You know the ones, made out of those popular sweet dinner rolls and doused with a stick of melted butter.

Guys. An entire stick of butter. There are days when that’s appropriate because butter fixes feelings, just like duct tape fixes anything that isn’t feelings. Or food.

Baked Croque Monsieur Sliders

But on days when a stick of butter isn’t required, or really wanted (it sometimes happens), we add a spoonful of strawberry jam to those sliders before drowning those little miniature bites of internet wonderful in a garlicky cheese sauce.

And just like that, those little “Green Eggs & Ham” Sliders from your kid’s Cat in the Hat birthday party are suddenly uber-fancy miniature Croque Monsieurs.

The internet. It’s a beautiful thing. (Usually.)

Croque Monsieur Sliders

A garlicky cheese sauce converts the popular baked ham & cheese slider into a miniature croque monsieur.

Calories: 200.2 | Fat: 7.2g | Fiber 1.0g | Protein 11.6g | Carbs 20.9g

Ingredients

  • For the sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp dijon or brown mustard (I use creole)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
  • Salt
  • 1 oz grated swiss (or ~1 slice, diced)
  • For the sliders:
  • 1 dozen dinner rolls (I use King Hawaiian Honey Wheat)
  • 12 slices of ham
  • 3 slices of swiss, quartered
  • ~4 Tbsp strawberry jam
  • Grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking dish with foil.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the garlic and stir, letting it cook for ~1 minute.
  3. Stir in the flour and black pepper until smooth, let cook an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the mustard and slowly stream in half of the milk, whisking to keep the sauce smooth.
  5. Add the cheese in two parts, whisking until smooth after additions.
  6. Finish with the rest of the milk and let cook for another 2-3 minutes until bubbly around the edges and thick enough to generously coat the spoon (you're going to spoon this over the sandwiches and want it to be thick enough to mostly stay in place).
  7. Slice the rolls in half horizontally (if you break the rolls into 2 halves of 6, you can do this with 2 cuts and not squish the bread).
  8. To build the sliders, spread 1 tsp of strawberry jam on the bottom roll, top with a slice of ham (folded to fit), a quartered piece of cheese, a spoonful of the sauce, and the top roll.
  9. Place rolls close enough on the pan that they're nearly touching.
  10. After all rolls are assembled, spoon all of the sauce over top. If you find the sauce too thin, reheat it for a couple of minutes over medium heat.
  11. Sprinkle grated parmesan over top and bake for ~15 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.
  12. Serve hot. Or warm. Or straight out of the fridge the next morning for breakfast. Seriously, they're that good.
  13. And most importantly, thank the internet for being so fabulous.

Notes

Yields: 12 sliders

Source: A smash-up of this and this.

Estimated time: 40 minutes

Nutritional Information
Calories: 200.2 | Fat: 7.2g | Fiber 1.0g | Protein 11.6g | Carbs 20.9g

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