Posted by johngl
One of my secret “guilty” pleasures is reading through my annual compendiums (1993-2011) of Cook’s Illustrated magazines put out by the good folks at America’s Test Kitchen. What attracts me to these folks’ publications is the total lack of advertizing. And, more importantly, these folks actually cook! They test things ad nauseum and while I’ve found them (absolutely) wrong on occasion (e.g. when to salt beef), they eventually see the error in their ways and aren’t afraid to admit it. In the nearly 20 years I’ve been reading these things — and I do read them cover to cover — I’ve grown to trust them. So, when the same folks started Cook’s Country a couple of years ago, I bit. In my 2011 compendium of Cook’s Country, in the June/July issue, I found, in the Cooking Class section, the rather bold statement: How to Barbecue Ribs. Well, firstly, I totally disagree with the way they spelled barbeque. It isn’t abbreviated BBC, it’s BBQ. But who am I to nitpick?
Secondly, that’s a pretty bold statement: How to Cook Ribs. I like bold and direct statements, so I decided I’d give it a whirl.
These are St. Louis Cut Spareribs. I’d never used them as I lean in favor of baby backs. Yes, these SLCs were even recommended in the article. I actually managed to follow their first instruction.
The local institution that is the Salt Lick is a necessary stop for anyone, let alone a guest from Brighton, UK who likes Q. So, given this occasion, we grabbed a couple of bottles of wine (a Gnarly Head Zin and a Revolution Shiraz) and another group of five jumped into two small cars (a Civic and Matrix, neither large enough to comfortably seat all of us), and we headed south to Driftwood. Luckily, the Salt Lick is within a 30 minute drive from my house and we arrived before the parking area was full-up (it was a Saturday afternoon after all).
After waiting the twenty minutes or so under the shade of a copse of live oaks at a well-used picnic table, we were alerted that our table was ready. We moseyed (you can help but mosey at the Salt Lick) on over to the main feeding station and took our seats at another “distressed” picnic-type table. To make things easy, we all ordered “family style” and commenced the waitin’. We popped open the Revolution and poured it in order to give this heady concoction time to open up. We waited for our feeding long enough to begin a wonderin’ what happened, and finally, the first plate arrived. Pickles and onions. Hmm. Then the potato salad made it over. Then the slaw. Then the beans. Then, finally, the meat.
A couple of us looked at this paltry plate and one of our party immediately said that a lot more brisket was warranted. The plate had a good bit of sausage and some ribs, but only a couple of slices of brisket.