By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Convenience has a high price. I just threw out an old cookbook that was all about making cooking easier by using prepackaged mixes, canned soups, broth cubes, microwaves, and other modern ways to make cooking easier. The main cooking skill you needed to use this book was the ability to open packages. Nothing was mentioned about the miserable nutritional profile of such “foods,” or about the effects of all the chemicals and preservatives. Or the fact that real cooking tastes so much better.
Convenience is a big part of modern American barbecue. Gas grills, pellet grills, premade factory sauces, premade factory rubs, premade factory marinades, all make barbecuing so convenient. The problem is that this convenience destroys the very factors that make true barbecue so delicious and nourishing.
I used to barbecue on an electric-powered grill that used wood pellets as fuel. You could actually set the temperature for how hot you wanted it, in degrees just like an oven. All you had to do was make sure the hopper was full of pellets, and then turn it on. It was easy to use. I thought the food cooked on it had a nice flavor, much better than any gas grill.
Well, a funny thing happened in the two years I spent writing my upcoming barbecue book. I decided to try to recreate traditional barbecue methods. This meant making a real fire, with real lump charcoal, or hardwood briquets that were made completely from hardwood, or burning hardwood down to coals. This meant making all my own marinades and bastes, from scratch. I got a common kettle grill that was powered by nothing but my own body and the fires I built in it. I used this grill to cook every meat recipe in the book, at least twice. And the barbecue I produced on this traditional style grill was so much better than the pellet grill, there was no comparison.
It was less convenient, and took a bit more effort. But it was worth it.
I decided that I was going to make the most traditional American sparerib barbecue I could, for a friend who came over two days ago.
I made an heirloom baste that was developed in the 1930s, by simmering various fresh vegetables and spices for hours, straining the liquid, and refrigerating it overnight, then adding a few traditional seasoning liquids, and simmering it again.
I used this baste as a marinade for some pastured spareribs, which sat in the baste for two days.
I built a fire out of hickory wood and hickory charcoal, and burned it down to coals, using tongs to move various pieces so they would fit properly in the fire bed.
I drained the ribs, boiled and strained the baste that had marinated them.
I made a rub out of various traditional spices, and sprinkled it all over the ribs.
I cooked the ribs slowly, first with moderate heat, then with low heat, basting them every 20 minutes, for two and a half hours.
We were rewarded with spareribs that were so good it is hard to describe them. So tender, with a nice pink smoke ring, and the kind of deep, smoky barbecue taste that can only be created by real barbecue, with a real fire, made with real fuel. That taste was so outstanding and memorable that I am still savoring it, two days later. It was the real thing.
No gas grill, no pellet grill, no processed condiments will ever come close to producing the real thing.
It was well worth the effort.
This recipe for spareribs is advanced, but I was trying to make the best ribs I possibly could, in the old style.
I intentionally kept most of the recipes in my upcoming barbecue cookbook simple and easy to make. All of these recipes rely on the magic of real fire, real fuel, real seasonings, and real grassfed and pastured meat to make totally delicious and nourishing food.
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