"Here's to the United States of America, and to the founding fathers, who created this great nation, which we can now eat." So begins each of our state dinners--our "toast," now part of the ritual.
Tonight we went to Tennessee. We considered serving fried peanut-butter and banana sandwiches, ala Elvis--but decided to go with a classic Memphis barbeque instead. I've been looking forward to this meal all week! On the side, we served cornbread, fresh green beans and homemade refrigerator pickles, made with fresh ingredients from our CSA.
This is not a quick and easy meal, but the results are well worth the effort. We started this one at about 8:00 this morning by putting the dry rub on the ribs. Lucy mixed up the following ingredients:
1/8 cup paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper.
You have to remove the silver skin from the underside of the ribs, get a sharp knife under one end and work it loose, it should peel off easily.
Marc was in charge of the grill, he started with a few handfuls of hickory wood chips that he soaked in water. He heated the grill and used an oven thermometer to keep the temperature between 225-275 degrees.
He smoked the ribs for about 3 hours, then let them rest, wrapped in foil for another 30 minutes.
When the ribs "bend" like this, they're done.
This method makes the meat tender, with a dark, crispy bark on the outside.
Cornbread is a semi-regular side for us, here's my easy recipe:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1 c yellow corn meal
1 c whole wheat flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
1 c milk
2 tbsp olive oil
mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients (milk, oil, egg) separately. Add wet to dry just before you put it in the prepared pan (see below).
As the oven comes up to temperature, put about 1 tbsp of butter in a 10 inch cast iron frying pan and put it in the oven. When the butter has melted, remove the pan and swirl the butter around, then pour batter into pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes
One of my favorite summer treats is refrigerator pickles, this dish seems to be a staple wherever there is a strong gardening tradition in the South and Midwest. Thinly slice one cucumber and one sweet onion (a fresh garden onion is best, storage onions will not taste as good here). Add about 3/4 cup of cider vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and a good handful of fresh dill. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend. Enjoy!
This was pretty popular with everyone, except the refrigerator pickles which both kids found too sour. I remember hating these as a kid too, maybe someday they'll enjoy them. In true oppositional style, Maia preferred the tender meat of the ribs, Lucy liked the crispy outside. Like Jack Sprat and his wife, I suppose.
This meal ended our first week of the project, about which we all congratulated ourselves and declared it a success! We've been impatiently waiting for the opportunity to draw for next week's meal, so after we finished our ribs, we drew:
West Virginia, Montana, Georgia and Alabama.
The Janssen clan is embarking on a real roadtrip next week to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore. None of us has ever been there before, and we hope to catch all the good stuff along the way, too, including the Corn Palace and the musical instrument museum at the University of South Dakota. Hopefully, we'll get some good ideas for our South Dakota meal while we're there. We'll pick up on our dinners when we return.