Football season has finally returned. If you’re like the vast majority of people in this country, this is an exciting prospect—your team gets a clean slate to make a run at the Super Bowl, and anything is possible. If you’re like me…sometimes you get a little bored. With the Broncos rocking at 2-0 so far with a couple of nailbiter victories, it’s been easy to stay excited this season. But what will people like me do when the orange and blue really finds its stride and starts stomping teams out in the first half?
Cook of course! Here is a quick two course game day plan for those of us who like to watch the game while doing something else (sometimes).
Game Day Pork Ribs
1 rack of baby back ribs
¼ cup brown sugar
1.5 t – 1 T salt (depending on how salty you like your “barbecue”)
1.5 t chili powder (if you can find Korean red pepper flake, use that. But normal chili powder will also do just fine)
½ t cayenne
½ t black pepper (ground)
1 t thyme
1 t basil
1 12 oz beer of your choice. I recommend Fat Tire, but pick what you like. Just avoid anything with massive hops flavor.
Garlic. I use an entire head of the stuff, but if you’re not as big a fan as I am, dial in your garlic accordingly.
Your favorite hot sauce. I use Frank’s, but it’s ultimately up to you.
The day before the game, mix the first seven ingredients together in a bowl. Then cut your ribs into manageable chunks—I recommend two to three ribs per chunk, but how you do it is up to you. Then take your rub and apply it generously to your ribs so that every square centimeter is covered. Put on a plate, wrap in plastic, then let sit in your fridge overnight. Reserve any leftover rub.
The next day, take out your ribs and put them in an oven-safe vessel big enough to fit them all relatively snugly, and which has a top. Once they’re all inside, sprinkle the rest of the rub over the top of them, and then gingerly pour your 12 oz beer between the cracks in the ribs, trying not to wash the rub off of them. Some rub will bite the dust and that’s okay, just try to keep it to a minimum. Tuck your garlic down into the beer as best you can and sprinkle the rest over the top. Cover in aluminum foil and put in a 250 degree oven until done. It should take 3-4 hours, but you can tell they’re done when you can grab a bone, twist it, and the meat is no longer clinging to the bone. Leave yourself a fair amount of time, because ovens vary and it might take longer.
When they’re done, put them on a platter and wrap in foil. Then turn the heat up on the liquid that’s still in your pan and reduce it to a syrup. Add as much of your favorite hot sauce into that reduction as you like, but don’t go too nuts—it should taste pretty awesome on its own.
Just before serving, put your ribs in the bubbling sauce to warm them up and coat them, and then serve. This recipe is designed for use with one rack of ribs, which feeds three normal people or two big eaters. Adjust your recipes accordingly depending on the number of guests. This recipe is also designed to be made without a grill, so it’s not really “barbecue.” However, if you make them ahead of time, you can always pull them out of the fridge and warm them up on the grill while brushing the syrup over them, getting some nice smoky flavor. You can always serve this with some corn on the cob and potato salad, making a sort of picnic out of the game, but the sides are entirely up to you.
2 ¼ cup flour
1.5 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon (You can add more if you really like cinnamon, but don’t go too nuts—it can really overpower)
1 cup of your favorite nuts
1 cup of dried fruit
1 12 oz beer (again, I recommend Fat Tire. No, I don’t work for New Belgium, I just really love cooking with Fat Tire)
¾ cup sugar
1 t vanilla
The night before baking, place your dried fruit in a bowl and just cover with the Fat Tire. This won’t require the full 12 oz. Dispose of the leftover beer responsibly.
The next day, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Place your cup of nuts in an oven-safe container and bake at 350 for about five minutes. Keep an eye on them—they burn easily. If you’re getting a strong smell from them, they’re probably burning, so don’t expect your nose to warn you. They should turn a nice, deep golden brown. While that’s going, drain your dried fruit. Then toss the nuts and the fruit in the flour so they’re evenly coated.
In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. Lightly dust your counter with flour and place your lump of dough into the flour. Knead a couple of times. Shape the dough into several logs, about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. You’ll probably wind up with four logs, but results may vary. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch. Seriously, the logs will feel solid, and you’ll worry that you overbaked them. You didn’t. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Note: This can be done the night before in order alleviate game day stress.
Using a serrated knife, slice the loaves into 1/4-inch slices. Place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so. Pull them out, flip them, and bake for another 5-10 minutes. They should be golden and crispy.
Remove from the oven and cool completely a second time. At this point, you can serve them the same way you’d serve normal chips—pudding works well as a dip, as does flavored whipped cream, or even a nice thick Sabayon. What I recommend, however, is melting a quarter-bag of chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet, but go with your own tastes) over a double-boiler and drizzling that over the top of the baked cookies.
Yes, these are biscotti. But if you’re like me, you get tired of potato chips and want something with a little more flavor to it. Pair them with coffee, or with a darker beer (it is game day). They’re a great snack to put on your coffee table just before kickoff and to whet people’s appetite before your ribs come out at half!