Monday, 16 June 2014

Father's Day Dinner - He Wants MEAT - Part 1

Last week, we ate many, many vegetables!  In fact, our meals Monday through Thursday were either vegan or vegetarian and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had green smoothies or whole grain toast with organic peanut butter and Chia seeds for breakfast; mini portions of dinner leftovers for lunch; plenty of green tea and water and then I whipped up freshly made plant based meals for dinner --> veggie stir fry, brown rice and cashewstomato cream on pasta with diced zucchini and bell peppers, and my sloppy Joe sauce with diced bell peppers and vegan sour cream on brown rice just to list a few. Yes sir-ee, all these veggie based meals ROCKED... OK, so maybe it was only me who was totally excited about this!  As it turns out, by Thursday, it was looking like I would be facing a family mutiny if some form of meat did not show up on the dinner plates, so for Friday's dinner, I thawed some organic chicken thighs to accompany the leftover mains that would now do double duty as sides (**BUDGET TIP** use up those leftovers!). For myself, I opted to remain plant based and had another vegan sloppy Joe with a side of leftover veggie stir fry... YUM!

So meal planning for the upcoming week brings me to Father's Day and providing the man of the hour with a favourite meal that of course MUST have meat for fear of the aforementioned family mutiny! Ribs are a family favourite and even better yet, back ribs were on sale.

On Saturday, I went to our Farmers Market and left with a fabulous stash of chemical free veggies. Those baby potatoes and green onions will rock a potato salad, and those carrots will be a lovely addition to my supercharged cabbage and apple salad.  Both of these salads will be splendid with the honey garlic ribs on the Father's Day Menu!
A few weeks ago I picked up some local, raw honey.  I am only now trying this golden elixir because I couldn't get the ^&*@! lid off... ACK!  OMG, I have never had such incredible tasting honey before. This poor girl has never had local honey, never mind, raw honey EVER!  I will NEVER buy store bought again. Yes, this magnificent honey will star in my honey garlic sauce.
Traditionally, my recipe calls for soy sauce but since I was out of it and had some Tamari in the fridge, I decided to try it instead.  Although Tamari is made from fermented soy beans, it is similar but not the quite the same in taste as soy sauce and it is a little less salty. Just to jump ahead, it was just as nice as the soy sauce, and I would recommend either. Just remember to start the soy sauce at ONE tablespoon to ensure your sauce isn't too salty.

Essentially, my honey garlic sauce is a simmered reduction of all of these ingredients plus water resulting in a thick sauce to brush on during the last 10-15 minutes of low and slow barbecuing.  I will have to fine tune this recipe for you since I lost my original recipe years ago and have been eye balling it ever since. If you would like to experiment on your own, feel free. To get you started, my measurements for the Father's Day Ribs were:
Honey Garlic Sauce (WIP)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup ketchup
2 cloves of garlic minced (but I should have added a third)
2 tbsp. Tamari (I think I needed a little more)
3/4 cup water (this allows the sauce to simmer without burning to develop the flavours)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
Whisk regularly and simmer over medium/low heat till the sauce is thick. 
Careful not to burn.
Once I get my measurements down, I will let you know!
I begin the process by cutting the rack of ribs into serving sized pieces - usually 3 ribs per serving. I put place the ribs in a covered roasting pan with about 2 inches of water and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours at 325°F. The ribs do NOT have to be in a single layer. Once the ribs are done slow cooking, let them stand for about 20 minutes so that they can be easily handled. Let these ribs cool sufficiently to put into the fridge or freezer for a later meal; or continue on with the oven roasting or barbecuing.
Since it wasn't super hot on Sunday and my barbecue is not so great, I opted to oven roast.  I par cooked the ribs on Saturday; cooled them and put them in the fridge till Sunday. Set the oven to 350° F (if you have a convection oven, turn on the fan).  Put the ribs on an uncovered roasting pan, meat side up, and roast for 10 minutes. (If you have just slow cooked the ribs, you might only need to roast for about 5 minutes since they are still warm.) After 10 minutes, brush the ribs with the sauce and return to the oven. Roast for 5 minutes. Turn the ribs, and brush bottoms with the sauce.  Return to the oven and roast for 5 minutes. Turn the ribs one last time and brush with the remaining sauce - they should be meat side up now.  Pop them back into the oven for another 5-7 minutes.  Turn off the oven and let the ribs stand in the oven while you are finalizing your sides.

Budget & Time Saving Tips

I mentioned before that you can slow cook these ribs and freeze them. As long as they are sealed well, they will keep nicely for a month or 2. In fact, if you want to save time and money, buy the ribs when they are on sale and slow cook several meals ahead of time and then freeze them individually on a large cooking sheet. After all, it takes the about the same amount of hydro to cook one meal in the oven as it does 2 or 3. Once frozen, freeze them in a tightly sealed container or freezer bag. These ribs will now be individually frozen and you can grab as many or few servings as you require.  Thaw them in the fridge, over night and continue with the oven roasting or barbecuing. You can have slow cooked ribs, even for those busy weekday meals.

These ribs are tasty, tender and just a little sweet whether you oven roast or barbecue.  Just keep in mind, when barbecuing, use a low fire because the sauce burns easily and burned sauce is just plain nasty. Stay tuned for Part 2 and my salad sides!

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