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July 23, 1999
a year ago
two years ago

Food Prep

Work was kinda half-hearted today. Part of it was the 2 1/2 hour lunch meeting that was scheduled, so that I knew that after 11 I was just doomed. Then there was the ice cream social, which was a party in celebration of the fact that we'd done a record quarter. That was from 3 'til the ice cream all melted; therefore it was fairly obvious that we weren't expected to go back to work after the ice cream.

I managed to clean a few things up in the morning, tie it all up neatly, hand it over to marketing and that was that.

The lunch meeting went as about expected. Nice lunch, though, a chicken marsala over noodles with a good salad and really, really rich brownies of various types. I have to admit that I really loved the cream cheese topped ones. Ice cream came with root beer! So I had a huge root beer float with Ben and Jerry's vanilla. That was really decadent.

Then John and I got a few more things from Whole Foods, as we hadn't found any pork butt the night before. Pork butt isn't called pork butt anymore, it's called sirloin. I only found that out by looking at all the cuts of meat, recognizing what I wanted and mildly gaping at the label. Also found a nice basalmic vinegar chicken rub, and took it all home.

So the basic plan was to cook all the meat tonight so that tomorrow the only thing we'd have to do was reheat it all with sauce. Less work, less mess, and less waiting around for raw meat to get safe, so far as we could figure. And we could pay attention to really cooking it right rather than having to pay attention to several dozen guests and the food at the same time.

So the first thing we tackled were the ribs. Eight pounds of beef ribs. John had worked, in high school, in a rib restaurant, and he remembered enough of the procedure that we found ourselves a deep pan that all the ribs fit into, first. Then we pulled out the blender and stuffed stuff into it. Tomatoes, garlic, onion, spices, vinegar, liquid hickory smoke, two types of brown sugar (including an extra dark demerara from the UK), and, of course, a packet of green chiles. Whirled it good and then tasted it. It was really, really sweet, though I could taste the bite of the vinegar and chiles under the sweetness. Then I tasted the commercial BBQ sauce and found out that I was actually in the ballpark with the sauce. So after all the ribs got really well peppered, we layered them with the sauce, covered them with foil and put 'em in a 225 degree oven. Just enough over a boil to really start cooking things, but low enough to keep it slow and steady.

We then wrestled the two 6+ pound chickens out of the refrigerator. Normally chickens come in fryer size, which is about three or four pound sizes. These monsters were roasters, though still bigger than I see most roasters. I washed 'em, John dried them, and then I rubbed the chicken rub on 'em, all over. We then spitted 'em, and put them on the rotisserie in the gas BBQ, outside. I basted 'em with canola oil and paprika and let them cook. First ten minutes on high to sear the outsides and seal the juices inside, then a long, slow roasting with basting every twenty minutes or so.

While we waited, the house slowly filled with the rich scent of the sauce starting to cook deep into the ribs, garlic and spice and sweet and meat all mingling in the air. Each time I went to baste the chickens they were just a shade more brown, the skin starting to crisp, the juices bubbling. Fezzik followed me every time I went outside.

The ribs took four and a half hours. The chickens took a good two and a half. John took them off the spit, and he put them onto a cutting board to cool. By the time they were cool the ribs were ready to come out, so John took care of the ribs while I parted the chickens into a 13x9 pan. The breast meat was so much that I could cut it into one chunk with the wing, one chunk with the skin, and then the tenderloins and they were all serving size pieces. That was pretty impressive. The thighs were huge and we had a bunch of scrap pieces that I can probably make into chicken salad or put into a casserole or something. The meat was fall off the bones tender and juicy and the bits we sampled were flavored really well.

The ribs were scary coming out of the pan, as all the fat had rendered off the meat and there was, literally, an inch of it floating at the top of the pan. So he pulled all the ribs out, left the juice and fats floating. I'll probably concentrate the juices tomorrow or something for a good BBQ sauce. The meat, itself, however, was just marvelous. The spice and sweet and sour had gotten deep into the meat so that it was tender and flavorful and just a mite spicy. That was really, really good. John was pretty ecstatic with how everything turned out. I was happy to have gotten it all done before midnight.

It was kinda hot when we went to sleep, so I slept a bit fitfully and dreamed of ribs, again.

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