The long weekend is a perfect time to kick-off our Summer BBQ Sunday series. Unlike the other weekends in the summer, the long weekend seems to give us permission to relax and enjoy time with the family. Join us in the backyard as we make nachos, smoke some ribs and enjoy watermelon mojitos.
I’ll be honest, I love the taste of food cooked over charcoal or wood versus gas. I think the only reason we originally cooked with gas was for the speed in cooking. Then we discovered the chimney. You can use starter cubes or lighter fluid to start charcoal, even some charcoal grills come with propane igniters like our Weber Performa), but with a chimney starter like our Rapidfire® Chimney Starter.
From Weber, can get your coals going without any chemical taste added to your food. This thing really works. To get your fire started, just add some paper to the bottom and your coals to the top and place the chimney on your grill. After you light the paper in the bottom of your chimney, just let the heat do it’s work. In about 15 minutes, you’ll have coals ready to dump into your grill. Of course time can vary depending on the coals you are using. A chimney starter is one of those must have accessories anyone looking to get back into charcoal cooking.
Smoking BBQ Ribs: Dry versus Wet
A BBQ staple in our house has to be ribs. I love sloppy, saucy, meat falling off the bone ribs. Of course BBQ aficionados will tell you that rib meat that falls off the bone is a sign that the meat is over cooked but that’s just the way I like it. Another preference for me when it comes to BBQ ribs is wet versus dry. Wet refers to ribs covered in sauce while dry refers to ribs cooked with a rub of spices and seasoning. I’ve always thought you had to choose one over the other so I would normally cook the meat with no season or just a little sea salt and add sauce at the end of the cooking cycle.
Then I was given some of David’s Special Steak Rub to try seasoning my ribs instead of cooking them bare. After removing the membrane on the ribs (a thin coating that appears on the underside of the ribs), I sprinkled and rubbed both sides with the rub. Removing the membrane enables any seasoning and sauce to penetrate through to the meat.
We’ve grilled our ribs before but this time we wanted to try smoking them on our Smokey Mountain Cooker. While letting our ribs sit with the rub for about 30-minutes, we used our chimney starter and heated-up the smoker to a temperature of 225-250F. We then set the ribs on their side using a rib rack and left them to smoke for about 4 and a half hours. No mater how tempting it may be don’t open the smoker. Each time you peek you can expect to add another 10-minutes to your cook time.
After the 4 and a half hour smoke, the ribs are pulled out and sauced up and then wrapped tight in foil. The foiled ribs are put back in the smoker for another hour to cook.
Nachos on the BBQ
While the ribs are smoking, we used our chimney starter to get our Weber Performa started. We planned on having the ribs for an early dinner but you know everyone’s going to want to eat before then; perfect time for nachos. When we set-up our BBQ cooking area, we made sure to add outside stainless steel tables. These would be used for preparing items for the grill but also a serving station. This helps to keep the BBQ area clear and the outdoor dining area uncluttered.
The preparation table enables us to work together on getting meals ready. Everyone is able to customize his or her own nacho toppings:
Mom’s Hawaiian – using the PC Black Label Peach and Mango Salsa as the base with a little shredded ham and covered in Monterey Jack cheese. I have to say I absolutely love this salsa and have been using it everywhere.
Dad’s Spicy Mix – using the PC Black Label Tamatillo Salsa as the base with some chopped jalapeños and shredded old cheddar.
The kids were quite content with a simple mild salsa and marbled cheddar topping. The great thing about nachos is the ability to customize them based on your taste or whatever you have in your refrigerator. This offered a nice midday break with the family, hanging out and working on their own nacho creations.
We created nachos on a tray and then slide them onto the grill after our Performa has reached a temperature of about 600 F. We used our pizza oven attachment but Weber’s Gourmet BBQ System with Griddle would be perfect for nachos too. Just like when doing nachos in the oven, they don’t take long to cook. It’s really the cheese you’re trying to melt. With our pizza oven we could monitor the doneness. The time was about 10-minutes but it really depends on your toppings and how high you’ve piled them.
After nachos and while the ribs were still smoking it was time for one of my favourite summer treats. Some of my fondest memories involve watermelon. We use to play ‘pass the greased-up watermelon’ at summer camp, which was great fun but really the best part is eating watermelon. We always have cubed watermelon in our refrigerator for a quick snack during the summer. It’s another great way to stay hydrated too, beyond just drinking water.
Then I discovered a whole new way to enjoy watermelon in the summer, thanks to the summer issue of Everyday Food from Martha Stewart. How about a nice chilled Watermelon Mojitos.
I’m not fancy when it comes to drinks. For me it’s usually a simple glass of wine or a beer or a pre-mixed cocktail, like the Skinny Girl Sangria. But with simple ingredients like watermelon, mint, lime, and white rum, I thought I would give it a try and I’m glad I did. I already had the cubed watermelon in the refrigerator too.
I actually adjusted the recipe and added a little less rum than indicated and it’s perfect. I also only add ice to the glass when serving verses adding it to the picture to avoid watering things down.
Just as I was ready to settle in to enjoying my watermelon mojito, the ribs were ready to come out of the smoker. Unwrap the ribs and let them settle for about 30-minutes before enjoying. And enjoy them you will. I love the combination of rub and sauce.
I think our first summer bbq Sunday was a success. There were no video games, no trips to the hardware store, no entertaining friends. It was just the family. We all loved making our own custom nachos between soldier attacks in the sandbox. The afternoon was full of ghost stories, drawing pictures, and eating watermelon. I loved savoring the bbq smoke along with a tall glass of watermelon majitos. I think everyone will sleep well tonight.
What did you enjoy on the BBQ this weekend?