Recipes from Mom and Dad: #1

I have to attribute my love for food and cooking to my parents. They love cooking together, so I've grown up associating cooking with love and family. It's basically all we do when the 5 of us get together. Eat. This is my dad's rib recipe that he's been making for years. It's a dry rub recipe, but you could make a BBQ sauce to go with it. In the summer, my dad throws them on the grill for a few minutes before serving. Any way you do it, this is a great, fall-off-the-bone recipe.

I should start by telling the story of how I have acquired an authentic molcajete (the traditional Mexican version of the mortar and pestle tool). I was working down in Monterrey, Mexico for a few months last year for a client. Not the safest place around, but had some amazing food and people. At a dinner one night, our salsa was made fresh at our table with flaming tequila, fresh tomatillos, peppers and tomatoes in a molcajete. I needed to have one!! Mi amiga Claudia noticed how much I loved it and had her mom go out to a market that weekend in Mexico City to buy one fo rme. What an awesome surprise that was!! Taking it home was a different story. TSA did not think it was a good carry-on. Ohhh puh-lease. I got that thing on, no worries.

Dad's Slow Cooked Peppery Ribs

2 lbs Baby back Pork Ribs
1.5 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tbsp whole white peppercorns
3 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/8 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 tbsp dried jalapeno pepper flakes (optional)

Anyways, here it goes. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Yes. 200 degrees is correct. Low and slow (5 hours). Start by grinding the salt and peppers together in the molcajete (or in a bowl with the back of a spoon). Add the cumin, paprika and dried jalapeno flakes and grind up.

Move the spice rub to a bowl, and mix in brown sugar. Incorporate all ingredients together until it is a little sticky. Add more brown sugar if it isn't binding at all. Rub the mixture all over the ribs. Push into the skin to make sure it sticks.
Add water to a baking pan, should be about 1/2 inch high. Place wire rack on top of pan and put ribs on top. Cover ribs in foil and pop in oven for 5 hours. Add a cup of water to the bottom of the pan every hour to make sure the ribs stay moist.

Italian Style Homemade Baked Beans

(recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis)

2 cans cannelloni beans
1 large carrot (finely chopped)
3 stalks celery plus leaves (finely chopped)
1 large spanish onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 lb Pancetta (cubed)
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp molasses
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried jalapeno seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start the beans when the ribs have 1 hour left to cook. Heat large saute pan over medium high heat and add pancetta. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, until fat is rendered in pan. Add onion to pan and let cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots, celery, garlic, jalapeno pepper flakes, salt and pepper and saute until everything kind of melts together.

Mix in tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, Dijon mustard, and chicken stock and combine. Mix in beans and bring to a simmer. Transfer beans to a cassarole dish.

Crank up heat in oven to 400 degrees. Put in beans (leave the ribs in!!) and cook for 40 minutes. Leave ribs in, but remove foil. Let ribs cook for 20 more minutes and remove. Re-cover with foil and let rest on the counter until beans are done cooking. It will stay warm, I promise.

As the ribs cool and beans cook, start the asparagus. It only takes 5-10 minutes to prep and cook, so keep that in mind.

Sauteed Asparagus

1 large bundle of asparagus (bottoms trimmed off)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 lemon
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large saute pan. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add asparagus, salt and pepper and squeeze the lemon juice over the pan. Grate up a little of the lemon zest and cook for 8 minutes, turning the asparagus occasionally to cook all sides.

Pull beans out of the oven. They should be bubbling a little bit and they will smell amazing. Cut up ribs, and serve!

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