The teaser on our Facebook group yesterday was, “What do peanut butter, jalapenos, and barbecue sauce have in common?” Some people hypothesized heartburn or Pepsid, and that might be totally correct, but that’s not what we were thinking about. But before we get to the heart of this teaser question, it reminds me of a story!
This one time, in college, I was taking classes in aikido, judo, and jujutsu. The campus club consisted mostly of two primary factions – large athletic white guys, and Malaysians! There were other denominations of people, but these seemed to be the two majority groups in the club.
The big white guy thing made total sense at a rural land-grant public university that traditionally specialized in agriculture and engineering. I don’t know why we seemed to draw a bunch of Malaysians. The two groups got along just fine and practiced martial arts together but they tended to self-segregate mostly because of a language barrier.
Americans are notoriously lazy when it comes to learning languages other than English (or really ‘murican), and only 1-2 of the Malaysians spoke understandable English. Fortunately for us, the Malaysians were not as language adverse as we were, so some of them ended up being our defacto translators so that we could communicate with the occasional Chinese or Laotian or Thai student.
Well, one day, my roommate (one of the big white guy contingent) said that we’d been invited to a barbecue by the Asian contingent. So we walked down the street from our apartment to where the Asians were having their party on their front lawn.
This was probably my first exposure to an Asian style barbecue. They were doing chicken and the aroma was alien – delicious but alien. Our Malaysian translator asked if I wanted something to eat and I agreed that I did so he pointed and said to get chicken from that bowl – not the other.
Well, that just piqued my interest. “What is in the other bowl?” I asked.
“That is way too hot for white guys,” was the answer I got.
“Oh really?” Was my witty response. “I love hot food.”
The Malaysian shrugged and I dipped from the forbidden bowl.
After I’d re-grown my seared vocal cords, I asked what that pot of napalm had been made from. It turns out that the major components were chunky peanut butter, hot chiles (not jalapenos), and barbecue sauce!
But that’s not where the teaser for today’s Food post came from. We did not do Asian peanut butter barbecue sauce. What we did was…
Ellen promised at the end of her Foodie Friday video last week that she would make a dessert next, and this was it. Dessert Pizza was a chocolate-chip cookie, topped with a peanut butter and yogurt spread, sprinkled with semi-sweet chips and banana slices. It was fun for her to make, but the finished product was not all that palatable. After a bite or two she declared it gross, so the brother-vultures descended and made short work of it!
Cowboy candy (sweet pickled jalapenos)
Our garden always produces copious amounts of jalapenos, and this has become an early fall tradition – Cowboy Candy! The heat of the peppers mellows over the course of a few months in the jar, making this a delicious addition to corn chips, or as a relish for a meat dish. This year some of the peppers were red, making this a perfect Christmas-colored gift. You just might get a jar!
St. Louis style ribs in a dutch oven
Sunday afternoon before Labor Day I asked Elise, “Hey, you want to go hang a hammock at Percy Quin and camp out there tonight and soak up some of this 68 degree weather?” and she agreed, so we did! Normally we wouldn’t hold any hope of getting a slot at Percy Quin the day before Labor Day, but hammocks can go anywhere so we tried and sure enough! The RV sites were full to bursting but the primitive campsites were completely deserted! We had the whole place to ourselves!
We took some St. Lewis style ribs and some carrots and potatoes, figuring to do an easy Dutch oven meal. I thought that it would be lunch Monday, but about dark on Sunday evening, Elise says, “I’m hungry. Let’s eat!” So it became a midnight snack!
Here’s how we did it!
I took a pound of large carrots, broke each of them in half and lined the bottom of the Dutch oven with them. Then I quartered two large baking potatoes. We would have used red new potatoes but they weren’t available at the time.
Then I cut the rack of ribs in half and smeared each half top and bottom with Zatarain’s Creole Mustard and sprinkled them liberally with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. I vastly prefer Tony’s Herbal Blend Blackening season, but again, it was not available at the time.
I laid the two halves of the ribs on top of the veggies, clapped the lid on it, and piled on the coals.
This is where I’m about to blaspheme! The Dutch oven nerds are all precise about getting exact internal temperatures. They have specific formulae for just the right amount of coals on the top and the bottom. But personally, I don’t like to do math when I barbecue or when I drink beer. Those things just don’t go with math. So I piled 12 or 15 coals on top and set the pot on top of 12 or 15 more coals – and just like every time before, it turned out perfectly!
I let it cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, then opened it and poured a bottle of spicy barbecue sauce over the top, then finished it on the coals for another 15 minutes.
It was perfect Mississippi-style barbecue! Sticky and sweet and spicy and tender! I’m making myself hungry all over again just thinking about it!