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Michelada ribs from Chicano Eats.
In Chicano Eats, Esteban Castillo shares his version of Mexican-American cuisine.
Our cookbook of the week is Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with the author.
You don’t need a grill to make Esteban Castillo’s michelada ribs. Braised in an oven, caramelized under the broiler, and served with sweet masa corn bread, deviled egg macaroni, and rajas con mac and cheese (recipes in the book), they’re ideal for the tail end of the summer.
Castillo developed the recipe years ago for his family — a homemade alternative to dining out at local barbecue spots in Fresno, Calif. — and it’s still his go-to whenever his parents visit.
“I was living in an apartment at the time, so I came up with braising the ribs and finishing them in the broiler so I didn’t need a grill. It just really came from wanting to outdo these barbecue joints,” says Castillo, laughing.
While you’re at it with the Clamato juice for the braising liquid, he recommends making his micheladas : “If you’re into savoury beers, it’s just so good.”
4 lb (1.8 kg) pork baby back ribs (avoid spare ribs)
4 tbsp Esteban’s Steak Seasoning (recipe follows)
12 oz (355 mL) pilsner beer, such as Modelo Especial or Corona
1/2 cup (120 mL) Clamato juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups (590 mL) Hibiscus BBQ Sauce (recipe follows)
Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
Break the ribs down into four 1-pound (455 g) racks to ensure they cook evenly. Place a large piece of foil on top of a baking sheet without tucking in the edges. Place one of the slabs of ribs on the foil, sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of the steak seasoning and use your hands to pat it into the meat. Seal up the ribs in an individual foil packet, leaving one end open to pour in the braising liquid. Repeat this process with the remaining slabs of ribs.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the beer, Clamato juice, Worcestershire, soy sauce and sugar to make a braising liquid.
Dividing evenly, pour the braising liquid into the open end of each one of the rib packets, then seal them completely. Arrange the ribs on two baking sheets.
Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 hours 45 minutes, switching the baking sheets from rack to rack at the 1 1/2-hour mark.
Remove the baking sheets from the oven and turn the broiler to high. Drain the braising liquid, discard the foil and place the ribs back onto your pan. (If your broiler is small, you’ll have to slice your racks in half and work in batches.) Brush some BBQ sauce onto both sides of the ribs and broil until the sauce caramelizes, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush on more of the BBQ sauce and broil for another 4 minutes for the sauce to finish caramelizing, then remove and brush on a generous third coat. Repeat with the remaining slabs of ribs.
To serve: Let the ribs cool for a few minutes, then cut into individual-sized portions and serve with extra BBQ sauce on the side. Accompany the ribs with Sweet Masa Corn Bread Muffins, Deviled Egg Macaroni Salad, and Rajas con Mac and Cheese (recipes in the book).
Serves: 5 or 6
ESTEBAN’S STEAK SEASONING
2 large guajillos (about 5 1/2 inches/14 cm long) (1/2 oz), stemmed and seeded
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 1/2 tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
3 tbsp dehydrated minced garlic
3 tbsp dehydrated minced onion
Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C) then place the peppers on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes; set the peppers aside to cool completely.
Once the peppers have cooled, place them in a spice grinder along with the peppercorns, coriander, and cumin and pulse until everything is roughly ground up, but not fine.
Pour the coarse mixture into a small mason jar, then add the salt, garlic and onion. Place the lid on and shake to combine. This spice mix can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.
Makes: 3/4 cup (160 g)
HIBISCUS BBQ SAUCE
1 cup (35 g) dried hibiscus flowers (see note)
2 ancho chiles (1 oz), seeded
1 (6 oz/170 g) can tomato paste
2/3 cup (145 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups (830 mL) water to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the hibiscus and anchos. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to let the chiles soften.
With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the hibiscus, then add the chiles and the soaking liquid to a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Once the chile mixture is smooth and completely blended, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve back into the saucepan it was steeping in, pressing on any solids left behind to make sure you get out as much flavour as possible.
Whisk the tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes. Adjust the salt to taste.
Let the mixture come to room temperature, then transfer to a sealed container. You can use this right away or store in the fridge sealed tightly, where it will keep for up to 2 weeks — the flavours develop a little more if made a day ahead.
Makes: about 2 1/2 cups (590 mL)
Note: Find dried hibiscus flowers at specialty shops or online (e.g., La Tortilleria ).
Excerpted from Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020