It is a challenge to commit to one thing, honestly, as I there are quite a few dishes that come to mind when thinking about ‘the best thing I ever ate’. To narrow it down, I contemplate which food truly makes my mouth water, has some nostalgic value, and is something unique that can easily be made by the home cook.
As a teenager, Dougie’s restaurant (the original location on the upper West Side of Manhattan) truly transformed the way I thought about food. Kosher in the 90’s was just starting to go gourmet and I had never before experienced the flavors of southwestern, American grill. I remember those Sunday afternoons, waiting on a line of at least an hour with my friends or family to taste juicy buffalo wings, crispy fries and the most coveted item on the menu: THE RIBS.
The Ribs was a completely new experience for me. A real interactive dish that was pleasing on all fronts. I knew the ribs were coming before the waiter placed them in front of me. The smell of perfectly grilled meat and the unique sweet and tangy sauce wafted across the restaurant. The exterior was crunchy, the meat tender and the special blend of spices and sauce touched on the sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami the REAL secret to addictive cant-stop-eating food.
The idea of making ribs at home always seemed intimidating and I never really bothered, until I found a rack of ribs or rib bones as it is sometimes called on sale at my local butcher. I brought it home, used my all-purpose barbecue rub and decided to cook it in a no fail method of cooking meat: low and slow. Starting with room temperature meat (a crucial step in cooking meat right, room temperature meat means evenly cooked meat), I rubbed the spice rub onto the meat, placed the meat in a 9x13 dish, covered it tightly with aluminum foil and let it cook on 300 degrees for about three hours. I took the meat out of the oven, turned the oven onto broil, brushed some Gold’s barbecue sauce (my sauce of choice as it is a perfect balance of vinegar and sweet tomato and doesn’t have any fake smoke flavor) and placed it under the broiler.
The results were fantastic and this dish has become my go-to dish for a special occasion. It has also been used to impress people with my culinary skills (if only they would know how easy it was) and is a special treat I make for Sunday barbecues during the summer months. The meat is fall off the bone tender and placing it under the broiler for five minutes allows the meat to achieve a crusty, charred exterior. When you bite into the ribs, your taste buds explode with the awesome flavors and textures of the ribs.
As I write this, I myself am starting to crave some of these ribs. As we are finishing up the Shavuot issue of the magazine (subscribe today), I force myself to remain focused on making sure our mainly dairy edition (which has quite a few dishes that could very easily go under this category) is perfect for all our readers and will reward myself with some ribs once this issue is all wrapped up.
Here is my recipe for the best Ribs I ever ate.