Here in Seattle, we’ve had an absolutely incredible summer. The gorgeous weather hit, as usual, on July 5th, and has continued here into the beginning of October. Us Northwesterners are still a little shocked to be seeing so much of the big yellow ball in the sky, but we’re not complaining. Not one bit. We’re all spending as much time outside as possible, soaking in every last minute of time where we don’t have to cover ourselves head-to-toe in waterproof gear. Just a little glimpse of what I’m talking about:
This means spending time indoors preserving food is a tough challenge. But alas, fall bounty is in full effect, and it must be captured in order to enjoy all winter long! Steve and I took some time for food, celebrating both the season for preserving and the final days of grilling season.
Our new favorite grilling item: pork ribs! The Cook’s Grilling bible provided a fabulous recipe for us that we’ve been going back to regularly during these beautiful sunny days.
For preservation, we grabbed an entire box of peaches from the Broadway Farmer’s Market earlier in the day. Inspired by one of our favorite cooking blogs, I hopped to making some delicious peach jam as well as freezing several bags of peaches to pop into smoothies during the winter. A little burst of summer each time will remind us of this year’s stunning summer season.
And now, onto the recipes!
Grilled Pork Spareribs on a Gas Grill
From Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue
2 full racks spareribs (about 6 lbs total)
3/4 c. Dry Rub for Barbecue (see below)
Hickory (or mesquite if you prefer) chips for the grill
It is not required, but we chose to brine the ribs for 1 hour before cooking to ensure optimal juiciness.
Prepare the Dry Rub for Barbecue:
4 tbsp sweet paprika (we used smoked, and it was fabulous)
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground white pepper
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl, or place in a pint-sized mason jar and shake to mix.
Rub both sides of the ribs with the dry rub and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. You may have some rub leftover. It’ll stay good for a little while and you can use it for another rib grilling session later!
Soak about 2 cups of hickory chips in water for 30 minutes in cold water. Drain water and place either in a foil tray or in one of these awesome smoker boxes (we’d recommend!). Starting with cleaned grill grates, place the tray/box on top of the primary burner of the grill. Turn all burners to high and put the lid down until the chips are smoking heavily – it takes about 15-20 minutes depending on your grill.
Turm the primary burner down to medium heat and turn off all other burners. Place the ribs over the cool part of the grill and close the grill. Cook slowly, turning the ribs every half-hour until the meat starts to pull from the bones and looks rosy. Keep an eye on the grill temperature – it should maintain about 275 degrees.
Once cooked, remove the ribs from the grill and wrap in foil. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes. You can douse the ribs in bbq sauce if you prefer, but we found the rub was plenty delicious.
We chose to roast potatoes we picked up at the farmer’s market on the grill as well, using one of our great new grill baskets. They turned out delightfully, and we added a salad and had a fabulous late-summer dinner:
See? No sauce needed – these ribs were fabulously juicy and perfectly spicy. The smoked paprika really makes a difference in this recipe for us. We haven’t even tried the recipe with sweet paprika, truth be told. But perhaps we’ll have to pick up some more ribs and give that a try. For research’s sake, of course.
Meanwhile inside, I was working quickly to process our huge box of beautiful Washington peaches.
We drink smoothies year-round, but more often in the winter when fruits are scarce. Freezing fruits throughout the summer allows us a chance to drink them in during the winter season, reminding us of the sunny season that we just passed. So I figured I’d freeze a few bags full of peach slices for smoothies, and use the rest of the peaches to make a batch of jam.
The nice part about freezing peaches (or any summer fruits for that matter) is that you can always use them later to make jam if you please. But getting them frozen buys you time, which is critical.
To freeze peaches, I sliced them into fairly wide chunks, and placed them on a cookie sheet. I placed them in the freezer for a couple of hours until they were frozen, and then dropped them into marked zipper bags. This keeps the fruit from sticking together in the bag.
Northwest Peach Jam
8-10 peaches, washed, pit removed, bruises & brown spots removed, then diced
4 tbsp honey (my best guess – I just emptied out the honey jar we had!)
1 1/4 c. sugar
Juice of one lemon
Note: these are very general amounts. I tend to use less sugar than recipes I find. Just taste as you go – that’s the best way to get the flavor and sweetness that you like the best.
Chop the peaches, placing them directly into a large pot for cooking.
Add honey & sugar and heat until boiling. Add lemon juice and turn down the heat on the burner to cook over medium heat. At some point in the process, after the peaches had become soft, I grabbed an immersion blender and sent it buzzing through the mixture to make the consistency smooth with a few little peach chunks remaining.
Cooking down the peach mixture to be ready for jelly can take some time. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time (even up to a couple of hours) to allow the peach mixture to reach the proper jelly stage. You’ll need to keep an eye on it as well, stirring regularly so you don’t burn the jam as it cooks down.
What is the proper jelly stage? Just drop a dollop of the mixture onto a plate and pop into the freezer to let it cool (but not freeze). When you bring the plate out, if you can easily push your finger through the peach mixture it isn’t ready yet. Continue cooking until you get to the stage where the mixture resists a bit – then it’s ready for canning.
Follow typical hot water bath canning directions. I like to put jam in smaller containers as it makes for great gifts throughout the year!
And presto! A fabulous Sunday full of great food.
Life is good.