Every year I make Sara Foster’s Fall-Off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs, and they’re always a hit. But the weird thing is I always opted for bottled barbecue sauce. With so many bbq sauces out there, I reasoned, why the hell add more stress to my already stressed-out afternoon? (Can you tell I get stressed a lot when I cook?)
This year, though, I decided to put on my big boy pants and make her chipotle maple barbecue sauce from scratch–the sauce that she recommends for her ribs. It was a dump-and-stir recipe. Simple, easy, fast. The flavors were terrific—the slap of the vinegar, the smoky heat from the chipotle, and the sweetness of the brown sugar and maple syrup. Everything blended together quite well. There’s also a big wallop of tomato due to a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. You can soften that, if you want, with a squirt or two of ketchup.
A few additions we made to this, which I think improved it mightily: We added a big glug of bourbon to the sauce as well as about 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate. (Personally, I think a bit more bourbon wouldn’t have hurt—and I’m not even a bourbon lover!) Then I reduced by a little more than a quarter as I prefer a thicker sauce. It was excellent. The problem: I was cavalier and took a nap while the ribs cooked, so they were far more tender than they should have been. It gave new meaning to “falling-off-the-bone tender.” Next time, I’ll make sure to be all rested before I tackle Foster’s ribs. But cut me some slack: Those Fourth of July gin and tonics were calling my name all afternoon. Damn sirens. Read more “Chipotle Maple Barbecue Sauce”
It’s not my custom to contemplate mussels. In fact, I don’t think about them at all, except when I see them on a menu, preferably steamed in a light white-wine broth. So on a recent trip to Nova Scotia, I was surprised to find myself so seduced and intrigued by these ancient bivalves as I followed them from a National Geographic-perfect inlet to my empty plate, in fewer than eight hours.
It began when The One and I boarded the “barge with no name,” the crown jewel of the one-vessel Indian Point Marine Farms fleet, co-owned by Peter Darnell. “We tried to name her,” Darnell said offhandedly, “but it didn’t take.” Wasn’t it tempting fate to ride in an unchristened boat, I wondered. To be on the safe side, I silently baptized her Nova Lox, a tribute to my morning breakfast. Read more “Mussel Bound”
This is perfect. Just perfect. Right when I finally caved to friends and family and accepted their choruses of “David, it’s always about you” that were being pounded into my head, I won the IACP’s First Book: Julia Child Award for The New Portuguese Table. Don’t get me wrong for a second: I’m utterly and totally thrilled about it. It’s an amazing honor that I’ll always cherish.
But come on people. How can I possibly make this about me?
I guess if I were an ordinary, self-centered, look-at-me-I’m-Sandra-Dee kind of braggart, I could allow myself carte blanche to take hostages in the Kingdom of Moi and talk endlessly about me. But the truth is, I’m an embarrassment to my species (and my tagline), because all I was thinking about as I obsessively trawled Twitter on awards night were the people who were part of this journey. A decade is a long time to ruminate on, research, reject, pick up, reject again, pick up again, and—finally—complete a book. Along the way, a lot of people have proffered words of encouragement, a simple meal when I was traveling through Portugal, and threats involving substantial bodily harm if I didn’t follow through.
So here, in no particular order, are beijinhos to many who made a difference. Read more “Okay, It’s Not All About Me”