2x Spare Ribs on the BBQ

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Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Now that we finally are getting some sun in Belgium, after all it is only June 3rd … the barbecue can come out of the garden shed.

A BBQ meal ever so successful for the lover of meat, are grilled spare ribs. Like the Americans say ‘the rack of ribs’. In Belgium the rack of ribs is actually cut in half lengthwise and one rack is about 10-15 cm wide and 30-40 cm long. Just the size an average person can dispatch during an evening diner.

Ribs are always great, served as ‘finger food’ with the aperitif as appetizer, or as a main dish served with a jacked potato with some sour cream or garlic butter, and a simple green salad and tomatoes. Simple, cheap and a definitely a treat deluxe.

The following post is not about grilling, it is about marinating. If you want to surprise your audience, marinate your spare ribs in advance. These are 2 of the summer marinades my hubby specifically developed for ribs.

The Ingredients: marinade for about 2 rib racks

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Chinese spicy ribs:

  • ketchup
  • Chinese (or Asian) pili-pili (bottle)
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • salt & pepper

‘Distinguished’ ribs

  • 1 lime
  • 2 tsps. smoked paprika powder
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 globes of garlic
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Cut the garlic, squeeze the lime and mix the marinade ingredients and smear them on the ribs. Cover up the ribs and keep them in the fridge to marinate at least 2 hours before you grill them. You can even prepare this the evening beforehand.

When it is time, grill the ribs and use the left over marinade to baste the meat from time to time while you are grilling. You can use one of these modern heat resistant kitchen brushes.

Et voilà, you can discover for yourself how different the 2 preparations taste.

The tip:

I you can’t find the smoked paprika, you can improvise by mixing regular paprika powder with cayenne pepper.

The secret:

Each year we dedicate our first weekend of summer to contribute to one of our town’s festivals ‘de Zomerfeesten’. Our contribution is limited the hard work of serving mojito’s for 3 days. Depending on the weather, mojito sales vary from good to extremely good. In one of these not so extremely good years we ended up with a lot of left over limes. After having preserved a large part for use in the winter tagines, my husband kept on searching what he could do with them. Apart from the obvious lime sorbet, the ‘distinguished’ marinade was invented.

Hei, but if you ever need the recipe for mojito…

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Mussel packets on the BBQ

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Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

The Ingredients: for 4 persons

  • aluminium foil
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 2 onions
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 small glass of white wine
  • 1 cube fish stock
  • leaf parsley (optional)
  • 0,5 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Wash and clean the mussels. It is very important to wash the mussels in plenty of water multiple times to make sure all sand and dirt is gone. As you poor the fresh mussels in a basin with ample water to rinse them, the mussels which do not sink to the bottom or remain open are the ones which are bad. So throw those away. After cleaning the mussels, leak them out for a short moment in time.

Fold a long leaf of aluminium foil double lengthwise. The idea is to make bags for the mussels, so you need a length of about 30-40 cm.

Add a handful of mussels in the centre of the foil. Fold the foil as if you will close it as a bag, so that a pit is formed to capture the ingredients and liquids which you will start adding to the mussel-bag.

In each mussel bag sprinkle some onion, some celery, some leaf parsley and optionally some garlic. Poor in the bag some white wine – a bottom will do since the mussels contain enough water in their shells to cook them.

Sprinkle some of the crunched fish stock cube in each bag and add salt & pepper.

Now close the bags smartly. The bags should be easy to grip with the barbecue tongs and all the moisture should remain in the bag until serving. It’s a challenge the first time, but once you’ve thought about it, I’m sure you’ll fold your own favourite bag shape.

When the bags are closed you can put them on the BBQ. Since no BBQ has equal fire everywhere, you should move the bags half way through the cooking time. Move the bags on the outside of the fire to the inside and vice versa. A mussel only needs 10 minutes to cook. Out of experience we know it takes a bit longer on the BBQ, but it will depend on your BBQ on how long they will need before done. Cooking time may easily go up to 20-30 minutes, depending. The solution is to peek from time to time. Take a bag from the fire, open it carefully and look if all the mussels are open and they don’t look glazy anymore. If some of the shells are still closed, close the bag and put it back on the fire for 5 minutes and repeat the sneak peek process.

Put the bag on a plate and serve with a piece of lemon on the side and brown bread. Let your guests discover the content of the bags themselves. The aroma escaping of such a bag is delicious. The cooking juices are great for dipping a good piece of brown bread.

Be careful, if you serve with bread some of your guests will turn this starter into a main course. In summer time this makes a great light lunch.

The secret:

Don’t look for the largest mussels. The small French Bouchot mussels are much more tasteful and are often less expensive than the larger ‘jumbo’s’ which are reserved for restaurants.

The tip:

Handle the aluminium bags always by lifting them up vertically. Don’t shove them over the grill; this will damage the bottom of the bag and let the cooking moisture escape. It is exactly that juice in the bag which steams and flavours the mussels.

Do not be tempted to put too many mussels in a bag!

You can develop many nuances to this recipe flavouring the mussels to your personal or regional taste. For instance you can add a slice of lemon in the package, or a drop of Ricard (anisette), or add some extra spices or herbs, or replace the wine with beer…these are only a handful of ideas.

Cleaning up after a mussel diner is not the nicest job. If everyone closes the packs again after eating, you can punch some holes in the bottom of the bag to leak out the left over juices. After some time, press out the bags and put them in the bin.