While The Grillin’s Still Good
Welcome to my back porch. Set yourself down somewhere and I’ll pour you a little something I call a Snakebite- limeade with a shot of whiskey and a dash of Tabasco sauce on ice- or just a naked glass of limeade if that’s your druthers. The temperatures are finally down into the double digits around here, so we can actually gather round the table on our screened in patio and feel human for a change. I never thought I’d see the day when temps in the mid-90’s felt cool and refreshing.
There’s even a bite of Fall in the air, which I just love love love. That means that Thanksgiving and all that yummy turkey is just around the corner. I can hardly wait! But until then, and while the weather holds up around where it’s at, I’ll keep throwing this that and the other- whatever I can think of, really- onto the grill. The longer I get to stay out of my kitchen, the more grateful I am when it’s finally time to fire up that stove to make some of my favorite Autumn dishes.
But until then, it’s grillin’ time around here. And tonight is no exception. We played a number of back to back all nighters this week, so I haven’t had the time nor the inclination to cook. However, I’d bought a really nice packet of locally raised organic boneless pork ribs at our local farmer’s market, and knowing that I wasn’t going to feel up to cooking much, tossed the ribs into a savory marinade I cobbled together, covered them, and threw the whole mess into the fridge.
So tonight, we’ll be smacking our lips over these ribs, accompanied by a few ears of roasted corn and a batch of white rose potatoes smashed with garlic, butter, cream and a dash of white truffle oil. I buy those tiny bottles of truffle oil you see in the specialty cooking oil section at your supermarket. The tiny bottles are best to buy, since, unless you use a lot, the oil will turn, and that’s a waste of good truffle oil. Whenever the muse grabs me, I throw 4-5 drops into mashed potatoes, mushroom steak sauce, macaroni and cheese… the list goes on.
For now, all I ask is that you find yourself a comfy seat, sit back and enjoy that Snakebite or limeade, and let’s get down to cookin’ up some real Americana food for real Americana folks.
Many of these recipes spring from my own imagination and what’s in my cupboards. I’ve spent years making the same down-home dishes for my family and friends- much to their delight- perfecting and tweaking old recipes as I go along. The rest, I’ve culled over time from road trips I’ve taken around this here gorgeous country of ours- whether out for a weekend or two with friends, or on the road with my band. From the vast array of roadside diners, back roads rest stops, and small town eateries, the very best of what’s available locally, and yes, even seasonally, comprises the bulk of my old-style recipe tin at home. I’ve compiled my favorites from that tin here for you to enjoy with your family and friends on your own back porch, kitchen table, and front gallery alike.
If you’d like to know a bit more about what I call Americana cooking, then go to my website www.rubysjukejoint.com and find a few more tips and fun facts while you’re at it. From Northeast chowders to Southwest chilis, Northwest smoked salmon to Southern BBQ, the dishes and ingredients that go into these dishes are all familiar, All-American, and certainly feel like home.
Recipes Fit For A Football King
I’ll tell you something else: living in Texas, even as a musician who just doesn’t pay all that much attention to sports, I can’t help but notice when UT football breaks into action. When I was a kid and paid a lot more attention to football, my folks used to throw these huge backyard parties with three or four grills going at once, the game blasting over the radio, and horse troughs filled with ice, cold beer and sodas. As I got older, I brought some of that grilling knowledge, with some pizzazz added here and there, to various friends’ amazing tailgate parties. I know some fairly rabid tailgaters these days- you know who you are- so, friends, these recipes are for you! Enjoy!
After we moved to Austin, we were given the opportunity to play every Thursday at the Continental Club for happy hour. Those happy hour shows are a lot of fun. They’re free, the bands and staff are usually pretty perky, it being early on, and it’s nice to step inside, out of the heat, for a refreshing drink and some great music. I created this drink as part of the Snakehandlers theme for those Thursdays and as a nod to my personal favorites: limeade and bourbon. I’d never had them together before, but once I married them in this drink, I wondered why not. This is a refreshing way to enjoy summer musical fun as a grownup.
3 oz. limeade
3–4 ice cubes
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
Shot of something bubbly (7-Up, Sprite, seltzer water, you name it)
- Place the ice cubes in a glass. Add the limeade and bourbon. Add shot of bubbly. If you prefer your drink “up” (that is, without ice), mix the drink slightly with a stirrer and strain into a new glass, without the ice. Otherwise, drink up and enjoy!
Milk Marinated Boneless Pork Ribs
I used to own a much-loved restaurant in Seattle that boasted an overly well-stocked bar, sweet little hidden back patio area, and some of the best chefs to be found anywhere. One of them, Mr. Christopher Hartfield, is about as Americana as Americana can get. His ancestry includes Mexican, Cherokee, African American, Cajun French, and even a bit of good old New England something or other. Chris had a way with the grill- something he attributed to all his ancestral roots. This recipe calls for my favorite Hartfield maneuver- marinating pork tenderloin or boneless pork ribs in milk overnight. The milk imparts a sweet and tender moist quality to the meat that you can’t find any other way. Here’s my take on Hartfield’s marinade.
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (butt) or boneless country pork ribs
1 Chipotle pepper, finely chopped, with sauce
Juice from ½ lime
Juice from ½ lemon
1 cup whole milk or half and half
½ cup rum
3 T honey
3 T maple syrup
2 T catsup
¼ t each cumin, coriander, paprika, allspice & cocoa powder
S & P to taste
Mix spices together in a small bowl. Rub pork ribs or loin all over with blended spices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a large mixing bowl. In another, smaller bowl, mix chipotles, citrus juices, milk, rum, honey, maple syrup and catsup together until well-blended. Pour marinade over ribs and turn until well coated. You may need to add additional liquid to cover ribs: water, more milk or vegetable stock will all work well. Cover and marinate in fridge overnight. Heat grill to medium (350°) and brush oil on grate. Grill pork 30-40 minutes, turning to evenly brown both sides to your liking.
Ruby Dee, from Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers, brings many years various life experiences along for the ride. Ruby grew up traveling back and forth from Northern California foothill ranches to the cotton and oil fields of the Texas panhandle. She enrolled in college at 15, and dropped out to hit the streets as a punk. Later, she spent years fishing in Alaska, driving big rigs, and owning restaurants in Seattle, Washington, until she finally gave all that up to settle down back in Texas, where she is at long last furthering her career as a writer and singer/songwriter. These experiences are reflected in Ruby’s writing style, and in the band’s hopped up high-octane successes on stage and on the road.
Ruby’s latest release, “Live From Austin Texas”, out on Dionysus Records, is currently rising on the AMA and Texas Third Coast Music charts and has earned the band two Grammy pre-nominations for Best Americana Duo/Group and Best Americana Album. Her cookbook, “Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook”, will be out in stores on November 1st, and includes a CD of music to cook by, including original songs by Marti Brom, Two Hoots and a Holler, Lloyd Tripp, Teri Joyce, Earl Poole Ball, and others (and Ruby, of course!).
For more information on Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook, or to contact the author, go to www.rubysjukejoint.com. Also, of course, all the usual suspect places: Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Rubys-Juke-Joint-Americana-Cookbook/183336818364780 and Twitter at @rubysjukejoint. Catch ya in the kitchen!