It’s Fiesta Friday #19, and I’m Co-Hosting and Bringing My Smoked Baby Back Ribs!

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I’ve been looking forward to this Fiesta Friday #19, because I have the honor of co-hosting this week with the lovely Sue O’Bryan from Birgerbird! I’m thrilled to be co-hosting with Sue… she’s such a sweet, sweet girl, and the recipes and stories that she shares are always delightful!

A special thank you to Angie for hosting Fiesta Friday; and I cannot believe that we are at week number 19 already!! How time flies when we’re having fun, and Angie certainly knows how to put on a fabulously fun party! I hope that you’ll stop by and see all of the delicious recipes that everyone has brought to the table this week!

….AND….If you are a blogger and haven’t had the chance to link up, now is the time! If you are new to this party, or even new to blogging…we welcome you to join us! It is a wonderful way to meet other blogger friends, and gain exposure and views! Please feel free to contact me, Sue, or Angie if you have any questions! We are here to help, and look forward to meeting you!!

Please be sure to link your posts to Angie’s blog, as well as my blog so that we know that you have arrived! It’s as simple as clicking on the “Click to Join” button right here…

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So, I have been working on mastering the art of smoking. Like I mentioned the other day….not the nicotine or cannabis type… but the art of taking a beautiful cut of meat, and rubbing glorious spices all over it, and placing it in a box in which wood burns and smokes to create a most delectable and juicy inside, but yet that crispy black bark on the outside that we all adore.

I am by no means a certified professional smoker. When it comes to the art of charcuterie…well…let’s just say I’m no Picasso. Far from it. But I’m learning.

It has taken a good year to figure out how to properly smoke baby back ribs. Ok, I use the word “properly”, but maybe I should just say that I figured out what works the best for me when it comes to smoking ribs.

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I have spent so much time researching and reading up on rubs and smoking, you’d think that I’d know what I was doing by now, but there is no doubt that it takes patience and a little bit of experience to get it perfect.

Low and slow.
Nope.
That just cooks shoe leather.

185° for “x” amount of hours… That’s what everybody says. And that truly did not work for me. I don’t know if it’s the smoker that I use, but every piece of meat that I tried that method on, dried out. Maybe I kept it in too long. I tried the method of smoking it for 6 hours, and then wrapping it in plastic wrap, and then again in foil, and throwing it in the oven for another 2 hours. It burned.

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And then finally, I stumbled upon this 3-2-1 method. If you Google 3-2-1, a ton of links will pop up. It works, it really, really works!! Rub the piece of meat with spices, and smoke it at 225° for three hours. Wrap it in foil; throw it back in the smoker at 225° for two more hours. Remove the foil, slather it with barbecue sauce and place it back in the smoker at 225° for one last hour. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become really comfortable with this method or what, but it seems to me that this is the easiest method that I’ve ever tried (aside from leaving it in the smoker for hours and hours, only for it to become shoe leather!).

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As for the rub, I’m sharing mine with you, but you’ll find that you probably change it up to suit your taste. I tend to like mine sweet, and a little on the spicy side. It’s a simple rub, but does the trick.

If you are thinking about buying a smoker, I highly recommend it. I went back and forth for the longest time, unsure if I’d really use it….would it be one of those things that I buy, but ends up sitting in the back of the garage filled with junk? I can promise you, I use mine all the time. It’s right at the front of the garage, ready to go whenever I’m ready! ..And clean up isn’t as bad as I thought it would be… it isn’t instant clean up, but I soak the racks overnight, and by the next morning, everything just washes right off! Trust me, I think everyone who owns a smoker, will attest that it’s one of the best things that they ever bought.

While I finally feel confident in smoking baby backs, and sharing them with you… there is still so much that I have to learn… brisket being my next challenge! So, stay tuned!!

I’m taking these ribs to Angie’s Fiesta Friday to meet up with Sue, and welcome everyone who has brought something to our table. I hope to see you there!

Life is good…it’s a “Friends getting together, sharing and laughing, and meeting new friends… just a happy and fun time” kind of good..

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Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Six Really Generous Portions

Just a quick Note: The recipe for the rub is just the right amount for three racks of baby backs. Adjust it accordingly to the amount of ribs you will be making.

Plan on preparing the ribs the night before you’re going to smoke them. You will need jumbo zipper disposable plastic bags to brine them in.

The Night Before:
3 racks baby back ribs
3 cans Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or Root Beer
Your favorite flavor wood chips. I tend to use Apple, Jack Daniels, Cherry, or Maple

Remove the ribs from their packaging. On the back of each rack, you’ll find a silver membrane that you’ll want to remove. You don’t have to, but you’ll find it more of a yucky inconvenience if you don’t. Been there. Done that.

Take a sharp knife, and beginning at one end of the rack, slice just beneath the membrane so that you can get your fingers underneath it. Once you do that, you’ll be able to peel it away from the ribs with your fingers. Just continue to work it up until you’ve removed the whole thing. It’s pretty easy to do.

Once you have the membranes removed, cut the ribs in half, by finding the middle, and cutting in between the bone. Place the rib halves into the jumbo plastic bag, and place the bag in a very large bowl (just in case it decides to leak, you won’t have a huge mess all over your fridge!). Pour the three cans of pop or soda, (Yes, I say pop, I’m a Western NY girl) over the ribs. Seal the bag, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, prepare your smoker per manufacturer instructions and heat it to 225°. Remove the ribs from the brine. Discard the brine. Generously rub the spices all over the rib halves, and place on the racks of the smoker. Add the wood chips to the smoker per the manufacturer instructions. Close the smoker, and leave it for 3 hours. Continue to add wood chips as often as the instructions indicate.

After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap each one in foil. Place the foil wrapped ribs back into the smoker, and leave for 2 hours.

After the 2 hours, remove the foil wrapped ribs from the smoker, and remove the foil. Generously slather your favorite barbecue sauce all over the ribs, and place the ribs back into the smoker for one last hour. Continue to add the wood chips as the instructions indicate.

After that last hour, the ribs will be absolutely juicy, fall off the bone perfect!!

Serve immediately with your favorite picnic sides, such as this German Potato Salad, these potato chips, and these Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs!

The Rub:
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground mustard
¼ tsp cayenne

Blend the brown sugar, and all of the spices together until combined. Generously rub all over ribs. This is delicious for any type of meat that you plan to smoke!

Enjoy!!

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Barbecue Chicken Personal Pizzas

This is a post in which you just might judge me a little bit.

The judgment involves me taking down my Christmas decorations today. Yes. You read this right. I did. I took them all down, and they’re all packed away already.  I know it was way too early, but I had a strong impulse to do it…so I went with it.  I’m really tired, but it feels really good to have it all done.

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So, about 3:30 this afternoon, and while I was knee deep in packing up the decorations, Mike comes into the living room and says: “I dreamt last night that you made barbecue chicken pizzas, and they were really good.”  Now, did he really dream that, or was he just hinting around that he wanted barbecue chicken pizzas for dinner? Part of me tends to believe the latter, but that’s ok. It was a good idea, and with some of the ingredients I had on hand, I could pull it off easily.

These personal pizzas are genius. My friend Steve shared this awesome idea this past summer with me when we were talking about easy meals to make after working all day.  They’re especially perfect on a hot day. Steve and his wife use Naan bread, so all you’d have to do is cook the chicken on the grill, and then throw the chicken and cheese on the Naan, and then put them back onto the grill to cook. Don’t feel like cooking the chicken?  Rotisserie chicken is a perfect substitute! Top them with whatever you might have on hand, and you have a great meal that took hardly any time, and very little work!!

Mike’s hint to make these pizzas came at the perfect time.  I was starting to get really tired, and the thought of heading into the kitchen to prepare a meal just didn’t appeal to me. I ran to the freezer, and took out a package of frozen chicken, and a half of a bag of Rhodes frozen roll dough to thaw. While I was rummaging through the freezer for the chicken and dough, I found a baggie of cooked bacon that I tossed in there a few days ago.  Some lettuce, onions, black olives and blue cheese to throw on top? Perfect.

I started preparing these pizzas at 5:30pm, and served them by 6:30pm. It’s now 7:17pm, the kitchen is cleaned up, and I’m sitting here typing this post.  Pretty darn good if you ask me…And the pizzas?  They’re delicious.

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Here are the ingredients I had on hand:
Frozen roll dough
Barbecue sauce
Boneless chicken breast
Chopped cooked bacon (Optional)
Shredded cheddar
Lettuce
Red onion
Black olives (Optional)
Blue cheese dressing
Crumbled blue cheese

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces, and cook it in the barbecue sauce in a medium frying pan. Flatten each dough ball, and roll them into flat mini pizza circles.

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Three circles fit on one greased cookie sheet.  Spread about a tablespoon of barbecue sauce on the pizza circles. And spoon some of the cooked chicken on top of that.  Sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top of the chicken.  Sprinkle some chopped bacon on top of the cheddar.

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Bake them at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes until the cheese is melted, and the crust is golden brown.  Top with whatever you might have on hand. I topped them with lettuce, red onion, black olives, blue cheese dressing, and crumbled blue cheese.

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Enjoy!!