Cherry Smoked Pork Ribs and Food Fails

I debated about whether or not to post this recipe, because well…it didn’t really turn out the way I’d hoped.  My first inclination was not to post it, because who wants to read about a failed recipe?  But then I realized that the best way to improve is to learn from my mistakes.  And the best way to learn is by sharing my  mistakes with all of you.  🙂

I recently found a blog called Smoked N Grilled on Pinterest; it’s a site devoted to recipes for all things smoked and grilled (hence the name).  You should really check it out if you’re into grilling or smoking meats-there’s some fantastic recipes!  Anyway, as I was looking through the recipes, I got inspired.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Grillin’ and BBQ’in, but I’ve never really delved into smoking meats; mostly because I don’t have a smoker and I’m not sure I’d use one enough to warrant the cost of buying one.  But these recipes looked tasty, so I thought to myself… I can totally  do that!

So, I used the power of Google to find tips on using my gas grill as a smoker.  I’m sure all you hard core grillers out there will scoff at this idea, but I really wanted to try my hand at smoking meat, so I decided to give it a go.  And I have this great recipe for Cherry Cola Glazed Ribs, so I thought, HEY! I could try the Cherry Cola Ribs smoked on my makeshift smoker and smoke them with cherry wood!  Sounds like a fantastic idea, right?!   It was a fantastic idea!  But implementation…well…therein lies the fail.

Here’s a list of my Recipe Fail Lessons Learned:

Fail #1-I Googled  “How to smoke meat on a gas grill”, and in my meat smoking haste, I read the first one I came across. It seemed reasonable, so I didn’t  look around any further. Turns out it wasn’t the best resource after all-there weren’t enough details and the instructions were incorrect.  Lesson Learned: Take the Time…Do Your Research.

Fail #2-I I found a great recipe for smoked ribs from the before-mentioned website Smoked N Grilled and I used it as my guide for smoking my Cherry Cola Ribs.   The problem is,  I didn’t read the recipe completely.  I just skimmed through it. I neglected to notice that the ribs would take approximately 4 1/2 hours to complete-a fact I would have noticed had I reviewed the entire recipe.  I read “two hours” and stopped there.  Two hours is actually the point at which you first check on your smoking meat.  Apparently I thought I was some sort of expert because I learned everything there is to know about smoking meat from reading one reference from Google. (see Fail #1).  As a result I started this process entirely too late in the day.  Epic Fail.  Lesson Learned: Read the recipe, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Fail #3-Because I started this process too late, I became impatient, so I ended up increasing the heat, which of course caused the meat to cook too fast.  The whole point of smoking meats is to cook it slooowwwlllyyyy (you’d think I would have caught on to that when I was reading the recipe…oh wait…I didn’t read the whole recipe…go figure).  As a result, the meat was not the fall-off-the-bone varietal I’ve come to know and love. Uber Fail.  Lesson Learned:  Patience is a virtue (as I often tell ChefPickyKid), and understanding the process is helpful too.

Fail #4-Now for this one, in my defense, I was sure I had one of these.  I always have one.  Who doesn’t have one?? Well apparently, I didn’t.  What is this magical item, you ask?? Wait for it…. a meat thermometer. The most important tool you’ll need for smoking meat besides the grill.   And I didn’t have one.  Are you kidding me??   And by the time I realized I didn’t have one, it was too late for me to get one.  And of course, being the One Google Resource Expert that I am, I decided I didn’t need one. Which of course led the meat to being overcooked.  Massive Fail.   Lesson Learned: Be sure you have the right tools for the job-before the job begins.

Now, all fails considered, the ribs really didn’t turn out all that bad.  The marinade/glaze was great, and the cherry wood smoked with the ribs left a wonderful flavor.  They just didn’t turn out the way I envisioned them to be; they were over cooked and a little tough.  But, I know that I have learned from my fails , and next time this recipe will be even better.

 

Cherry Smoked Pork Ribs

See my recipe for Cherry Cola Glazed Ribs for the ingredients for this recipe. For the smoked ribs I doubled the ingredients (not the meat, just everything else)  and divided it.  I marinated the ribs in the same ingredients as the glaze, and then created the glaze to finish the ribs.

Combine all the ingredients from the glaze recipe in a large glass pan or large bowl (don’t cook it over the stove as the recipe mentions; just mix the ingredients together-you’ll make the glaze later)  Marinate the ribs, refrigerated, overnight.

Remove the ribs from the marinade about 1/2 hour before you’re ready to begin cooking.  Pat the meat dry and rub it generously with your favorite meat rub.  I’ve made many homemade spice rub recipes, but for this one I used a pre-made Chicken and Pork Rub from a local company called Penzey’s Spices .  Leave the meat out of the refrigerator so it can come to room temperature (or close to it) before you begin smoking it.

I’m not going to describe how I smoked the meat on my gas grill (see Fail #1), but I did find another resource that has very helpful information on using your gas grill as a smoker.  I’m going to try this method next time.

How to Smoke Meat on a Gas Grill

I based my smoking time and method on a recipe I found on SmokedNGrilled.com.  This recipe is for Peach Smoked Ribs; I didn’t use the ingredients, just the smoking time and temperature (well, I should have, but I didn’t-See Fail 2) .  I used cherry wood chips for my recipe because I thought it would taste great with the Cherry Cola Glazed Ribs.

While my ribs smoked on the grill, I prepared the Cherry Cola Glaze according to the original recipe.  When the ribs were about 10 minutes from removing from the grill, I basted them with the Cherry Cola Glaze and served the remaining glaze on the side.

 

I’m not sure this was a recipe so much as it was a kitchen confession, but I hope that while you were laughing at me  with me, you learned a little something, or at least had a laugh over your own Food Fails.

 

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It’s working!

I’ve been working on our food blog for about a month now, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on the first month of my blog’s existence.

First, I’m REALLY enjoying putting this blog together.  I’ve come to realize that I’m more of a computer nerd than I thought myself to be. I love putting my blog together!  I regularly search other blogs for ideas to improve my site, photos, posts, readership, and overall “cool-ness”. My blog continues to be a work in progress.

I’ve also discovered that I have a newfound interest in food photography.  Sounds silly? Maybe.  But I never comprehended the amount of time, effort, and skill that goes in to taking a good photo of food. It’s just food, right?  It shouldn’t be that hard. But surprisingly, it’s very difficult to take a picture that makes a dish look bright, delicious, and something that someone would want to make!  That’s really the biggest challenge.

Photography captures the essence of a recipe. I understand now that just reading ingredients while looking at a dull, dimly lit picture of an entree doesn’t compel someone to want to try it.  Like the old cliche goes…”a picture is worth a thousand words”.

I’ve also discovered that I have to be more mindful of measuring and time now that I’m posting recipes that other people besides myself will use.  I quickly came to the realization that recipes that use measurements like “a little of this”, and  “a handful of that”, and “cook it till it’s done” aren’t effective ways to describe a recipe to someone that might actually want to make it ! I have to pay special attention to how much of an ingredient I’m adding to a recipe, and watching the clock to see how long it actually takes to “cook till it’s done”.

But on to the main topic at hand.   I started this blog for two reasons; the first was to create a cool place to share my recipes with others.  I have recipes saved all over the house and on my computer, but now I can keep them all in one place.  And when someone asks me for a recipe, I can tell them to check out my blog!

The second and most important reason for creating this blog was to inspire my daughter, “Chef PickyKid” and her love of cooking, and to motivate her to develop a love of trying new things when it comes to food and cuisine.  As I mentioned in the About Us portion of the blog, ChefPickyKid loves to cook, but trying the recipes we cook? Not so much.

How is the path to inspiration working out, you ask? (Well, maybe you aren’t asking, but I’ll tell you anyway).  I am extremely pleased to say that so far, it seems to be WORKING!  She is very much enjoying her new Chef PickyKid persona. She wants to help in the kitchen even more than she did before, and she has even developed a recipe of her own! (I will post her recipe soon).

And amazingly, she is beginning to try new foods! She is by no means a food connoisseur; after all, she is Chef PickyKid.  But she is beginning to branch out.  My greatest hope is that she will grow to be an open minded person who is willing to try new things; whether it’s a new recipe or a new adventure.  Maybe this small gesture is a step toward that goal.

Looking back on the first month of this blog, I would have to say that it has been a success. I’m having fun designing the blog, Chef PickyKid is having fun being part of the kitchen chronicles and trying new food, and we’re both learning a thing or two.

I hope everyone is enjoying our blog and recipes, and that you will continue to celebrate Food, Fun, Family and Friends with Chef PickyKid and Miss Ericka.  🙂

Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a great fondness of smoked cheeses.  I don’t know what it is about smoked cheese, but love any recipe that includes it.  It doesn’t matter what kind of smoked cheese-smoked cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, whatever-I’m not picky; if it’s smoked, I love it. 🙂

As you also may have noticed by the recipes I’ve posted so far, I also love pasta.  Pasta dishes are easy to make, versatile, and great for serving large groups.  And of course, pasta is delicious!!  I could never survive on a low carb diet; I think I would be a starving, angry person without carbs!

So, this recipe has two of my favorite ingredients-smoked gouda cheese and pasta!!  I got my inspiration for this one from another blog, but added my own spin.

The chipotles add a little spice and a lot of flavor.  The pasta includes chicken, so it can be a main dish or a side.   And the longer you let the pasta chill, the better it will taste. I let it chill for 2-3 hours and it was amazing!

You can also use whole grain or whole wheat pasta if you want to make it a little healthier; I’ve made this dish twice, and used wheat pasta the second time I made it.  It was great with regular pasta and whole wheat pasta, but I did notice that the dressing didn’t absorb as well into the wheat pasta, and the nutty flavor of the wheat took a little away from the flavor of the dressing.  Still good, but definitely a different flavor and consistency; I think that’s pretty common with wheat or whole grain pasta.

This recipe should serve 4, with some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Here’s my recipe for Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda.  Enjoy! 

1 Package Penne Pasta, Cooked Al Dente According to Package Instructions

1 Container Grape Tomatoes, Halved

4-5 OZ Smoked Gouda Cheese, Cut into Bite Sized Chunks

1 1/2 Cups Cooked Chicken Breast, Cut into Bite Sized Chunks

14-15 Basil Leaves, Shredded or Chopped

For the Dressing:

1 Cup Mayonaise

1/3 Cup White Vinegar

6 Tablespoons Milk

4-5 Tablespoons of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce, or One Chipotle in Adobo Finely Chopped (you can find this in a can, usually in the hispanic foods section of your favorite grocery store)*** 

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

***Usually when you cook with chipotle in adobo, you’ll have a bunch left over.  A cool trick to save the rest is to freeze it in a ziploc bag; then you can use it the next time you need it!! I learned this trick from Rachael Ray. 🙂

After the penne pasta is cooked and drained, transfer to a large bowl.

Combine mayonnaise,  milk, vinegar, and chipotles.

Combine pasta with dressing, tomatoes, basil, chicken and smoked gouda.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chill pasta until cold; the longer it chills, the better it tastes, so try to give it 2-3 hours.

Welcome to our Kitchen!

Thank you for visiting our blog!  I’m new to blogging, so this will continue to be a work in progress!  Please check out “About Us” if you’d like to learn more about our blog.  In a nutshell, this will be a place to share recipes and experiences in the kitchen! 🙂

I will be posting my first recipe shortly!