Although the calendar may say otherwise, Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer.
As a lifelong Midwesterner, I realize there will be plenty more summerlike days before the first snowfall, but Labor Day gives us an excuse to invite friends and family over and fire up the grill.
Recently, I caught up 2011 Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest chamption Brett Richards who was grilling ribs on a Friday morning at his Vinton barbecue stand, Smoken’ on the Cedar.
He didn’t have any formal training in the art of grilling, he just learned as he went.
“It’s a lot of trial and error how we come up with things,” he says. “We take things we like from one thing and adapt it to another.”
He follows the low-and-slow method of grilling.
The pulled beef at his stand cooks for about 24 hours at 250 degrees. Like any cut of beef, he doesn’t slice it right away.
“I like it to rest for an hour if I can,” he says. “That lets all the juices redistribute.”
He uses a little bit of black cherry wood with charcoal, but wood isn’t a requirement to smoke meat, he says.
Although smoke gives meat a unique taste, be careful not to oversmoke, which results in a bitter taste.
“If it’s producing a ton of white billowing smoke, it’s too much,” he says. “You want the thin blue smoke.”
He doesn’t put any sauce on the meat before or during cooking. Rather, he uses a supersecret dry rub.
OK, it’s equal parts of sweet paprika, brown sugar, black pepper and kosher salt (which has larger granules than regular table salt).
If you want some barbecue sauce for dipping, here’s a recipe using Griff’s Cowboy Whiskey from Cedar Ridge Vineyards, Winery and Distillery in Swisher.
GRIFF’S BBQ SAUCE
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup. butter
1 hot pepper finely chopped
1 medium white onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 cup Griff’s Cowboy Whiskey
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste
Heat butter and oil in cast iron skillet. Add onion and pepper to skillet. Heat until onions are clear.
Remove skillet from heat. Add Griff’s Cowboy Whiskey. Return to heat. Boil down over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to simmer and add all other ingredients as you continue to stir. Simmer the sauce until it thickens.
From Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery, Swisher
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