Detroit Eats

Musings of A Detroit Based Food Fanatic

Archive for the ‘American South’ Category

BBQ Ribs – Beef and Pork

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      One of my favorite meals is BBQ ribs. I don’t get to have them as often as I like due to the fact that my wife doesn’t eat pork. This time, however, I came up was offered a solution. The BBQ gods, in their infinite wisdom, decided that beef rib and pork ribs should be on sale at the same time. Now I haven’t an opportunity to do beef ribs on the BBQ before but I figured the process shouldn’t be any different. Beef ribs, by the way, are the bones that are attached to a prime rib so they were nice and meaty.

     The first step was to brine the meat. This step helps to ensure that the meat stays moist and flavorful. While there are a lot of brine recipes out there I chose to keep it simple. I brought 1 cup of Kosher salt, 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 gallon of water to a boil the night before. Considering the ingredients I wasn’t concerned about any type of spoilage so I just left the pot (covered) on the stove to cool overnight. I also took the opportunity to remove the membrane from the back side of the ribs. Without this step the membrane would make the ribs tough. The next morning I placed my ribs in the brine and put the pot in the refrigerator for 4 1/2 hours.

     The second step was to cover my ribs with a rib rub. There are many brands on the market but the fact is the all the ingredients are probably in your spice cabinet already. A good basic rub is:

  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons  Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
  •      After removing your ribs from the brine pat them dry with a paper towel. Then rub both sides of your ribs and allow to sit (refrigerated) for at least 1 hour.

         While your ribs are resting you can be soaking your wood chips. There are several types of wood that can be used. I like hickory the best but many people will use oak,apple cherry or pecan. I will use mesquite when I am grilling (as opposed to BBQing). Mesquite burns at a very high heat and as such is great for steaks and chicken or anything you want to sear and cook quickly.

         The rule about BBQ is to cook low and slow. I build my fire on one side of my grill and put a drip pan full of water on the other side. I also make sure to always have a thermometer inside the grill so I can monitor the temperature. Ideally I like to cook between 225 and 250 degrees. I control the temperature by using the vents on the top and bottom of the grill (I am currently using a Weber Kettle), as well as, partially opening the lid if necessary.

         Having taken all these steps I am now ready to put my ribs on. I place the as far away as I can from the flame (over the drip pan) and sprinkle the moist chips on the fire. It takes approximately 4 to 4 1/2 hours for the ribs to finish. One additional step I take to keep them moist is to have a squirt bottle filled with apple juice which I use to make sure the top of the ribs stay moist. When the bones just start to pull away from the meat the ribs are done.

         The final step before feasting is to sauce the ribs. While some BBQ experts will tell you that good BBQ need no sauce I prefer it. I do find that a simple homemade sauce is often far superior to a store bought sauce. I think that too many ingredients are added when a less is more approach should be used. ketchup,cider vinegar and brown sugar are all you need although this time I had some maple syrup in the house and used it to replace some of the brown sugar I would normally use. This was a great decision as the sauce was spectacular. It should be noted that , due to the sugar in BBQ sauce it should be added only at the end of the BBQing process.

    A couple of notes:

    • I like to use a baby back rib. I find it more meaty (and less fatty) than a St. Louis rib.
    • While you can find inexpensive ribs remember that you get what you pay for so if the deal seems too good to be true it probably is. You could end up paying for all fat.
    • The beef ribs worked exactly as expected and were very meaty and moist.
    • I didn’t add a sauce recipe here due to the fact that my sauce only has 3 ingredients (4 with maple syrup but that’s optional). Just mix the three ingredients together until you get the balance of tart and sweet you are looking for and remember it’s not necessary to add every spice in the cupboard!
    • Wood chips can be purchased at Lowes,Home Depot, K-Mart etc. Watch the pricing. You shouldn’t have to pay more than 4 or 5 buck for a bag that will last you most of the summer!

    Written by Ed Schenk

    April 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Meatless Fridays #6 – Deep Fried Catfish,Creamy Coleslaw and French Fries

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         I was a little lost when I started thinking what I should make for Meatless Friday but a quick trip to the grocery provided me with  inspiration. I’m not one to blow my budget on just one item no matter how good it is. I would rather face the challenge of creating based on what is presented to me. The catfish that was on sale at the market was really a no brainer. I have used catfish in a number of ways including making a really good catfish gumbo ( believe it or not it’s a traditional dish) but the tried and true thing to do with catfish is to fry it. The natural progression of the plate would have demanded hush puppies and coleslaw. The coleslaw was easy enough but I only had enough cornmeal to bread the fish or make hush puppies, not both! I decided to put my best efforts into the fish and forego the hushpuppies. Instead, I had some frozen French fries languishing in my freezer so I decided that this would complete the meal.

         The catfish was breaded using a standard breading procedure and for the crumb I used 50% bread crumb and 50% cornmeal. I fried at 350 until the crust was golden brown. The fish was perfect. I often forget how good this dish is!

          For the slaw I was feeling lazy so I bought a bag of pre – shredded cabbage. I did, however, make my own dressing. I mixed the sugar and apple cider vinegar and whisked until the sugar dissolved. I the added my mayonnaise and cabbage and managed to get it right on the first shot. A perfect mix of tart and sweet made for a great dressing.

         What can I say about the fries? The frozen ones are great! You would be hard pressed to make it better yourself.

        I also had some kicked up tartar in the fridge. Really just mayonnaise, pickle relish, brown mustard, chopped parsley and caper but it’s just awesome!

    I only eat what nature provides!!

    Written by Ed Schenk

    April 3, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Meatless Fridays # 5 – A Different take on Shrimp and Grits.

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    shrimp and grits

         Anyone who has visited the low country of South Carolina is probably familiar with the dish Shrimp and grits. What started out as a breakfast for the fishermen here has turned into Haute Cuisine around the country. Basically the dish takes creamy grits and tops it with savory shrimp in a sauce. There seems to be a variety of interpretation of this dish mostly concerned with the shrimp and the sauce. I felt spicy so I  came up with my own take on this Southern classic. My version has Italian roots in that the sauce for the dish is a Marinara sauce. My Grits are made of coarse ground cornmeal seasoned with onion, garlic and fresh basil. I took the grits and let them cool into a cake. I then breaded and fried the cakes in panko. The shrimp were sautéed in Olive Oil

    Grit Cakes


    1/2 onion finely diced
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    1 cup water
    12 oz cornmeal
    1  cup milk
    1/2 cup parmesan cheese
    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.


    • Sauté onion and garlic and add water. Stir until thickened.
    • Stir in milk, cheese and fresh basil.
    • Spoon into a lightly oiled casserole dish.
    • Smooth into 1 even layer and allow to cool.
    • Cut into triangles.


    For breading


    1/2 cup flour
    1/4 cup milk
    1 egg beaten
    1 cup panko breadcrumbs


    • beat the egg with the milk.
    • Coat the triangle in flour.
    • Dip in the egg and milk mixture.
    • Dredge in the breadcrumb making sure that the hand in the crumbs is dry. If the hand is wet the breadcrumbs won’t stick
    • Fry at 350 degrees until golden brown.

    Marinara sauce

    This is the most simple but most delicious Marinara Sauce you will ever make!

    1 can ground tomato (28 oz)
    1 table spoon sugar
    1 teaspoons salt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    fresh basil
    Lemon juice

    Place the first 5 ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer (low) for 45 minutes.

    Add some fresh basil. I don’t chop or tear it. I just throw it in stem and all ( I pick them out later). The basil will steep in and flavor your sauce like you couldn’t imagine. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more.

    Pick out the basil and give your sauce a squeeze of lemon. Your done!

    For the shrimp I just sautéed them in a little oil and placed them on the Marinara sauce.


    Written by Ed Schenk

    March 29, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Memories of Texas – Chicken Fried Steak at Massey’s

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    chicken fried steak

         Many years ago, as a young man, I lived for a time in Ft. Worth Texas. My main motivation for this move was, on the surface, a college education. Deep down I always knew I just wanted to move out of my parents house and be independent. Not that there was anything wrong at my parents house. Sure I had my share of teenage misadventures but in spite of that I managed to graduate, so in the fall of 1977 off I went to Texas. During my years in the south my friends took satisfaction in showing me what Texas was really like (Bigger and better comes to mind). This extended to the food. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast, BBQ for lunch, Tex-Mex for supper became the standards. And then there was Chicken Fried Steak. Chicken Fried Steak not just from anywhere but from Massey’s. Massey’s had the best! Steak breaded and fried to a golden brown served with a some freshly mashed potatoes and topped with a peppery cream gravy, boy I’ll tell you there was nothing like it!

         Although the ownership has changed hands Massey’s is still in operation just as it has been for the last 50+ years. They still serve Chicken Fried Steak, Fried Catfish, and an array of Texas favorite and you can be sure no one goes home hungry so if you find yourself in Fort Worth you should check it out! It’s worth the stop.

       I have had and made Chicken Fried Steak several times since I moved from Ft. Worth although up here in Michigan they call it Country Fried Steak and serve it with brown gravy (I had one women who became furious when I tried to serve it to her with cream gravy). I still prefer Chicken Fried Steak.   

    Chicken Fried Steak


    2x 4 oz portions of Cube steak

    1/4 cup of milk

    1 egg

    1/2 cup all purpose flour

    1/2 teaspoon of salt

    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1/4 teaspoon paprika

    1 cup vegetable oil or shortening

    1. Mix the salt pepper and paprika together and sprinkle on both sides of each cube steak.
    2. Blend together the egg and milk well.
    3. Dip each cube steak first in flour, then in egg, and finally again in flour. Set aside.
    4. Heat oil (or shortening) to a medium high heat.
    5. Pan fry Cube steak in hot oil until golden brown and crusty on the bottom. Turn each steak and fry the other side until done.

    Cream Gravy

    Remove all but 2 tablespoon of oil from the pan and bring to a medium heat.

    Sprinkle in 3 tablespoon flour and stir/cook for1 1/2 minutes. Do not burn!

    Slowly pour in 1 1/2 cups of milk (whole) and stir until thickened.

    Season with salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper.

    Serve over your steak and potatoes.

    • Chicken Fried Steak comes with a cream gravy not a brown gravy.
    • When you bread your steak keep 1 hand dry. If both hands are wet the breading will stick to your hand ad will come off.
    • These days most versions of Chicken Fried Steak are deep fried for the convenience of the cook. Do not take this shortcut. Your product will suffer.
    • The amount of oil or shortening you use is proportionate to the pan you are cooking in. The oil should be about a 1/2 inch deep.
    • Use whole milk in your gravy. If you use a lower fat product you take the chance that your gravy will break.


    Written by Ed Schenk

    March 26, 2010 at 12:01 am