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Monday, July 03, 2006

Ribs That Save Your BBQ from SBDs

Our nation's birthday is coming up tomorrow, and chances are you're prepping a traditional American BBQ with all the fixins -- potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, ice cream, and of course, meat.

And not just any meat. We're talking the juiciest, tastiest, fattiest meats you can find. With ribs, hot dogs, and hamburgers stacked high on every picnic table, it's highly likely that stomachs are firing up as much as grills.

Here's where you'll argue that meat is an essential part of our diet, and I won't dispute you. After all, protein is a critical building block for our body. In fact, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef gives you 51 percent of your daily recommended protein intake. So why all the tummy trouble then?

The answer's in the molecules. Foods such as meat, eggs, and beans have large protein molecules that require more work from your digestive enzymes to break down and distribute around your body. That's why it takes a while to get protein through your system --- and why it distresses weaker GI tracts in the process.

So this 4th of July, I've decided to share some recipes with you that make sure one Independence Day dinner won't carry over in your tummy until next year's Independence Day.

First, some background: I was raised around good cooking and great food. Way back in the day, my mother—one of the world’s truly great cooks—taught home economics, which at that time primarily consisted of cooking. I was always fascinated with how she made food taste so good.

Then, many years ago, when I was a young whippersnapper, I served a two year chef apprenticeship. Some years later I was the chef in my own restaurant. So I am not a foreigner to eating or cooking all kinds of foods, from haute cuisine to backyard grilling.

That's why when I tell you these are the best ribs I’ve ever eaten, you know I mean it!

And of all the foods I make, my ribs and burgers always get rave reviews, not only for their taste, but for how easily most people can digest them without issuing SBDs (silent-but-deadlys) later in the day. So, I'm posting them here for you to enjoy too.

One secret to success: Get your ingredients from grocery stores such as Whole Foods or Wegman’s that offer a wide selection of all-natural, quality organic food.

This recipe is based on two packs of ribs about 1½ pounds each. Also, I usually “feel” my seasonings, rather than measure them, so adjust the seasonings to your own preferences. Remember, if you make more ribs, also adjust the seasonings a bit, but not in total proportion to the increase in ribs. While I suggest erring on the side of caution, by all means, make them as spicy as you’d like!


* 2 packs all-natural baby back ribs (about 1½ lbs. each)

* 2 teaspoons Borsari’s Seasoned Salt

* 1 teaspoon Whole Foods’ Caribbean Barbecue Seasoning

* 1 teaspoon Whole Foods’ Herbes de Provence (but any similar brand works well too).

* 1 bottle Jack Daniels Original No. 7 Barbeque Sauce.(Lea & Perrins Barbeque Sauce is a good substitute, if you can’t find the Jack D).

* Heavy duty tin foil to wrap each rack separately

Prepare the day before grilling for best results. Lay each rib rack on a sheet of tinfoil large enough to completely & tightly seal the rib when closed. Season each side of the ribs with their portion of the 3 herb seasonings (not the BBQ sauce). Make sure to intensely rub the herbs in your palm (irritate) before sprinkling on the ribs. Then rub all of the seasonings into the rib meat. Wrap the tinfoil like an envelope and tightly roll and seal all edges. Place in the refrigerator overnight until about 3 hours before serving.

3 hours before serving, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Once it’s preheated, place the sealed foil packs of ribs in a roasting pan on the lowest rack in the oven and roast for 75 minutes. Then turn the heat off, and let the ribs sit in the cooling oven for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for another 10 minutes on the counter or other heat protected surface, until you can easily open the foil without getting burned. Carefully remove the ribs to a plate. Pour the drippings into a bowl, and allow the fat to rise and separate. Skim the fat using a spoon. You can soak a bit more fat by gently laying a paper towel on the surface of the fat.

Pour about one-half to one-third (or desired amount) of barbeque sauce into the remaining drippings, and mix well.

Preheat the grill to about medium heat. Baste a generous amount of the barbeque sauce on one side of the ribs and place basted side down on the grilling rack. Then baste the other side. Close the lid, and allow grilling for about 5 minutes. Then open the grill, turn the ribs over, close the lid, and allow grilling for another 5 minutes. (If you don’t have a lid, extend the grill time about 3 minutes.) Baste with more barbeque sauce and turn over for another 1-2 minutes on each side. For a bit sloppier (but extremely yummy) dining experience, you can brush a bit more of the barbeque sauce on the ribs just prior to serving. The ribs should now be done and totally scrumptious.

One final note: Ribs have a significant amount of fat on them, which is why they taste so good! However, burnt fat is dangerous to your health. Fat is more unstable than protein, and oxidizes much more easily. The grilling process, therefore, really kicks up the cancer-causing molecules, known as polycyclic (or polynuclear) aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These molecules damage cell membranes, and cause all kinds of oxidative damage that can lead to cancer, among other disorders.

So I use the pre-roasting method of preparing grilled ribs to minimize the grill time, and thus reduce the amount of burning/charring that the ribs get on the grill. It’s also a smart way to get the intense, deep, rich flavor of the ribs along with the wonderful grilled barbeque flavor while avoiding the detrimental effects of grilling it raw.

(By the way, later this afternoon I'll be doing an interview on ABC TV in Philadelphia (WPVI channel 6) where I'll be talking about the effects of standard holiday foods on the digestive system, and how to reduce their negative effects. Plus, I'll be sharing these recipes, so tune in for more info!)


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