...to get us through until spring


Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

Last week we got started on the chile pepper trail and now it leads to a meal that will just have to tide over 'til it's really grill season. No worries...I barbecued these ribs outside just this past week so you can too- especially if you munch on a few of those sweet little chile peppers. Wow, that cornbread infused with fresh herbs and goat cheese is dyn-o-mite. I use cornmeal from our local mill-Wye Mills on the Eastern shore.

The big news is the Homestead Gardens is getting a slew of local food products in for spring. Cheeses from Chapel Country Creamery of Easton and Cherry Glen Goat Cheese from Boyds, MD will be available next week! Of course the herbs are already there if you don't have any on a windowsill.  Common' and sample. (You'll have to make the ribs and cornbread yourself).

Smoke-Kicking Pork Ribs

Serves 4-6

Here is a simple way to get fiery irresistible ribs in about two hours of grill time. You’ll know they are done when you twist the rack with tongs and the meat would start to tear.

For the rub and ribs:

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder[chih-POHT-lay] (this is smoked jalapeno powder)
  • Or 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard, such as Colman's
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed, crushed
  • 2 to 3 racks (4 to 5 pounds) baby back or loin back pork ribs
  • Quality barbecue sauce

For the rub: Combine the salt, brown sugar, paprika, chipotle or cayenne, oregano, black pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder and celery seed in a small bowl, mixing to break up any lumps. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the mixture for serving.

For the ribs: Rinse ribs and pat dry. Use a dull butter knife to loosen the thin papery membrane that runs along underside and pull it off with your fingers. Once you get it started, it should come off in one piece. Rub the ribs generously on both sides with the rub to cover completely. Wrap the ribs in plastic and let season, refrigerated, for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium heat. If you're using a charcoal grill, soak 1 1/2 cups wood chips or chunks for 1 hour in water to cover, then drain them.

When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill rack. Place the soaked chips on a piece of foil with a few holes punctured for air circulation. Place this foil directly above the flame to create smoke to season the ribs.

Place the ribs, bone side down, on the grill, but not directly over the flame; close lid. Grill, until ribs are tender enough to pull apart with your fingers, and meat has shrunk back from the ends of the bones, 50 to 90 minutes total. If you like, the ribs can be basted with a barbecue sauce during the final 10 minutes of cooking.

Remove the ribs from the grill and place on a cutting board to let them rest for five minutes. Cut the racks in half or in individual ribs and serve more barbecue sauce and the reserved rub on the side.

Brown Butter Cornbread With Goat Cheese and Rosemary

Serves 6

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups yogurt cream or buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cob cooked corn, kernels removed (about 3/4 cup) or frozen corn this time of year
  • 4 ounces ( 3/4 cup)goat cheese (chevre) crumbled
  • 1 small red chile pepper, seeds removed and minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter ( 1/2 stick)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, oil, egg, sugar and baking soda. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ones until just combined. Fold in corn, cheese, chile pepper and rosemary.

Melt butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, tilting pan to coat bottom and sides completely. Cook butter 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to color and smell nutty. Scrape batter into skillet; smooth surface with a rubber spatula.

Bake until bread is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

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