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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Rigatoni with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Sauce

This recipe was an instant favorite in our house; it was incredibly easy to make and sooo good!

My husband and I are big fans of spicy food, so we really enjoyed this one.  It’s not eye-watering spicy, but just enough heat and flavor to add a little kick.  The original recipe for this dish included heavy cream. I wanted to lighten it up a little so I changed it up a bit, but I bet it would be super good with cream!! You could probably skip the milk as well if you want a more tomato-style sauce.

Here’s the recipe for Rigatoni with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Sauce:

Inspired by the recipe: Sausage with Rigatoni and Tomato Cream Sauce

1 Package of Rigatoni pasta, cooked to al dente

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 Tablespoons of butter

2 Tablespoons of flour

1 cup milk (I used 1%-that’s what I had in my fridge)

1 Pound of Italian Sausage, casings removed

1 Large yellow onion (or 2 small), thinly sliced

2 Medium garlic cloves, chopped

1 Cup chicken stock

1 Can of Ro-Tel tomatoes

1/2 Teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

1/2 Teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes (I may have used more like 1 1/2 teaspoons; add in 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you have the desired flavor.  I like spicy food, so I add more!)

1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Teaspoon chili powder

1 Teaspoon garlic powder or salt

Large handful of parmesan cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top

Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Once the olive oil is heated, add the butter and allow it to melt.  Add the onion and saute it until it begins to caramelize.  Remove the Italian Sausage from the casings and add it to the sauteed onion; break the sausage up with a wooden spoon as it cooks and brown it until it is completely cooked through.  Add the garlic and cook for about 2-3 more minutes, then drain the extra fat.

After you’ve drained the fat, add 2 tablespoons of flour to the sausage/onion mixture and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil, then allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes or until the broth has reduced.  I reduced it by about half so the pasta would be thicker.  Add the Ro-tel tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the milk, then bring back to a boil.  Once the sauce has begun to boil again, reduce back down to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes more.  Add the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic salt or powder, and salt and pepper and stir to combine the ingredients.  I allowed the sauce to simmer for about another 10 minutes, but you don’t have to do this step if you don’t want to or are short on time.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.  Add a large handful of parmesan cheese to the pasta and combine.  I also sprinkled a little extra parmesan cheese on top before serving.

I served this pasta with homemade garlic bread with parmesan cheese; the bread was great for dipping in the sauce.  So yummy!!!!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with White Wine, Lemon and Rosemary

I wanted to make a roasted pork tenderloin this weekend.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to roast it with, so I sort of improvised and came up with a really tasty marinade for the tenderloin.  We have a lemon tree in our back yard that is starting to produce fruit, so I wanted to use lemon, and for me, lemon always goes great with fresh rosemary. I would have liked to make a pan sauce with the marinade, but I didn’t have all the ingredients and was too lazy too busy to go to the store, but it still tasted fantastic without the sauce.   This pork tenderloin would also go really well with Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic.

Everyone enjoyed the pork tenderloin..well, almost everyone.  Chef PickyKid didn’t enjoy it, but her friend did!  What can I say, she’s picky! 🙂

Here’s the recipe for Roasted Pork Tenderloin with White Wine, Lemon and Rosemary

1 Pork tenderloin

1/2 cup olive oil, plus about 2 tablespoons for searing the tenderloin and a little olive oil to rub on the pork tenderloin

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup white wine

Juice of one lemon

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon onion powder

Fresh rosemary, about 2-3 sprigs

kosher salt and black pepper

Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, white wine, lemon,  garlic and onion powder.  Rub a little olive oil on both sides of the tenderloin and season with kosher salt and pepper.  Place the tenderloin in a large freezer bag with the marinade.  Remove the rosemary from 2-3 sprigs of rosemary and add them to the bag.  I just hold the rosemary sprig at the top and peel the rosemary from the stem with my fingers.  Marinate the pork for at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.    If you have time, it’s even better if you marinate overnight.

Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator about  a half hour before you’re ready to cook so it isn’t cold when you sear it.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot.  I like to see a little smoke from the oil so I know it’s really hot; this is the best way to sear the meat.  Add the tenderloin to the hot skillet.  Sear the tenderloin until it is browned on both sides.  This will take about 10 minutes (five on each side).

Transfer the tenderloin to a roasting pan and roast until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.  The time for this may vary depending on your oven, mine took about 30 minutes.