Divine Rack of Ribs

WIN_20160407_154543Nothing says “I love you” to the carnivore in your life like a well seasoned, slow roasted rack of ribs. My favorite carnivore has been working madcrazy hours lately. Hearty meals help keep him going. These ribs are a dining vacation… until it’s time to get back to work!

WIN_20160407_140526Ingredients (Serves 2 with leftovers)

1 large rack of pork baby back ribs (about 3 pounds)

For the brine:

3 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup sea salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

4 whole allspice

4 whole black peppercorns

WIN_20160407_140651For the almost-dry rub:

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Directions

Step 1) Combine all brine ingredients in a saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

Step 2) Refrigerate brine until the brine is very cold. This can be done a day ahead of time, if you wish.

Step 3) Cut the rack of ribs into serving size lengths (I cut the rack into 4 pieces). Place the pieces in a gallon size zip-lock storage bag. Carefully pour brine into the bag. You don’t need to use all of the brine, but should add enough brine to the bag so that the ribs are covered.

Step 4) Set the bag in a large bowl (in case of leaks), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.

Note: If you need to store your ribs in the fridge for longer than 12 hours, remove them from the brine after 12 hours and simply store them in a fresh zip-lock bag.

Step 5) Remove ribs from brine and place on a baking sheet with shallow sides. The bones should be on the bottom, with the meat facing up.

Step 6) Place ribs in a preheated 300 degree oven and roast for 1 hour. While the ribs are roasting, combine the ingredients for the “almost-dry rub” and mix into a paste.

WIN_20160407_140920Step 7) After 1 hour of roasting, remove ribs from the oven. Carefully rub the “almost-dry rub” all over the tops of the ribs. Return the ribs to the oven for an additional 40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer measures an internal temperature (not right against a bone) of 180 degrees.

Step 8) Once the meat reaches a temperature of 180 degrees, reduce your oven temperature to 180 degrees (really… that’s not a typo) and return the ribs to the oven at this lower temperature for 20 minutes. The meat will become more tender during this time.

Step 9) Serve with your favorite side dishes, such as Great Grandma’s Baked Beans and Easy Peanut Cabbage Slaw. Enjoy!

 

Coconut Pecan Crusted Salmon

WIN_20151028_183841This isn’t your average Tuesday night dinner, friends. This is dinner dressed in its Sunday best! Sockeye salmon is the real deal, with a wallop of heart healthy Omega-3s and flavors induced by the cold, wild waters of Alaska. Sockeye salmon is NOT the same as “Atlantic salmon”, which is code for farmed salmon raised is crowded conditions and often fed artificial colors to turn the flesh pink. No thanks. Instead of grabbing the lower priced Atlantic salmon, I wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually, Sockeye salmon goes on sale – for about the same price as Atlantic salmon. When this happens, I buy several pounds at a time – it freezes well.

Sockeye salmon is special all by itself, but we’re making it extra fancy today with a crust of coconut and pecans. If you’ve never done this, don’t be intimidated by the idea of a crust. There’s really nothing to it! The preparation is as simple as spooning a crumbly mixture on top of your fish fillet and gently patting it down with your fingers. Seriously – that’s all. Let’s get started!

WIN_20151028_173148Ingredients (Serves 6)

1 large sockeye salmon fillet (approximately 1.5 pounds)

1 lemon or orange

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Step 1) Slice lemon or orange into 1/4 inch thick rings, and place rings one inch apart on a baking sheet with shallow sides. Place your salmon fillet, skin side down, on top of the fruit rings. This will prevent your salmon fillet from sticking to the baking sheet.

Step 2) Combine pecans, coconut, and salt in a small food processor or blender. Pulse until the mixture has a texture like coarse sand. Don’t get carried away – you want some texture, not a smooth paste.

[My favorite small, affordable food processor: Englewood NJ100 Red Ninja Express Chop]

WIN_20151028_175326Step 3) Use a teaspoon (nothing larger) to carefully spoon the mixture along the center of your salmon fillet. Try not to let the mixture roll off of the salmon and onto the baking sheet. If that happens, remove as much of the coconut-pecan mixture as you can from the surface of the baking sheet, and place it on top of the salmon where it belongs!

WIN_20151028_175437Step 4) Using your fingertips, gently spread the coconut-pecan mixture toward the edges of the salmon fillet, creating an even crust over the entire surface of the salmon (it’s OK to leave a very small edge uncoated).

Step 5) Carefully place your baking sheet in a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake your Coconut Pecan Crusted Salmon for 20 – 30 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily.

Step 6) To serve: I like to bring the salmon fillet to the dinner table right on the baking sheet, surrounded with roasted vegetables (roasted green beans are pictured above). It is very easy to cut slices from the salmon fillet to serve your family or dinner guests. Enjoy!