Smokin’ Spare Ribs 🍖 (3·2·1 Style)


So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.

The quick and dirty of this method is…

  1. Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
  2. Remove the silverskin, and put a nice rub on the ribs. I used one from the section of Walmart by all the grilling stuff.
  3. Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
  5. Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
  6. Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
  7. Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
  8. Put them back on for 1 hour. (3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
  9. Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
  10. EAT.

I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.

I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.

I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.

Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?

What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?

Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.

What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?

This is the full adventure as told via Instagram:

Ham N’ Bean Soup.


I was really hungry for ham n’ bean soup after the Christmas ham.  Usually I make a Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup with ham leftovers, but this time I wanted something different.  Plus, I made a sweet glaze for this ham which may not have played well with that soup.  I have made ham n’ bean soup before with the dried beans that I had to soak overnight, but I remember my last batch being way too salty.

This one turned out a lot better.  I used canned beans.  While we generally do most of out shopping at Aldi (& via Instacart), there are some things that Aldi doesn’t sell so I made the trip to Giant Eagle to get all the beans.  I think it turned out well.  This is more of a method than a recipe.  Here’s what I posted on Instagram (edited for terrible typing and a clear blatant lack of proofreading/editing);

AiXeLsyD13's Ham n' Bean Soup

Ham n’ Bean Soup | @AiXeLsyD13

Finally made the ham n’ bean soup.

Started with some carrots cut up, half of a Spanish onion minced, and 3 each red & yellow mini sweet bell peppers chopped very fine, sautéed them in a bit of butter, added spices

Next I added a @yuenglingbeer traditional lager, some vegetable broth, and some water & a bit of ham bullion/paste stuff.from a jar.

Then I added some leftover gravy from the Christmas ham which included ham drippings and my glaze that dropped down (beer, yellow mustard, Herlocher’s, honey, brown sugar, garlic, water, & corn starch). Then I cubed up some leftover ham from Christmas, popped it in the mix, then added some canned great northern beans, pinto beans, cannelloni beans, red beans, white kidney beans, and canned diced new potatoes.

Finally I added some bisquick mix to make some dumplings after the beans cooked a bit.

I have to say it hit the spot. @bcarroll_13 liked it, and Molly did eat a bit, Ian said he liked it but didn’t eat any. Molly REALLY liked the dumplings.

I bought peas to add, but wasn’t feeling then in this mix so I kept them out.

I may try the “bags of gold” cheese-filled dumplings soup that grandma used to make next.

I forgot to mention that one can of great northern beans I mashed before putting it in because I like a thick soup.  The dumplings were my mom’s idea, which is funny if you know her & that she hates biscuits & dumplings.  I also used a few drops of liquid smoke for the first time ever at the advice of a good friend!  I also sometimes like to cook with Straub American Amber instead of Yuengling Traditional Lager.  I thought about adding garbanzo beans, but I didn’t.  I bet they would have gone well in here too.

Do you make your ham n’ bean soup?  This is something I probably make slightly different every time.  Share your secrets, tips, & tricks in the comments!

Sloppy Joes (Cheap Quick Manwich Copy Cat Recipe)


I already blogged about the yinzer Sloppy Joe made with chipped ham.  This is the more traditional one.  It’s less barbecue-y than the BBQ pork n’ slaw sandwich I blogged about though.

Who is Joe anyway, and why was he sloppy? Maybe Wikipedia knows.

My wife’s grandma had a recipe for “Barbecued Beef” that looks and tastes a lot like Manwich (or the knock-off brands):

Sloppy Joe "Barbecue Beef" Manwich CopyCat Recipe

My daughter could eat it every day, but we just make the sauce without the peppers & onions.  Also, we usually skip the Worcester sauce, but I have subbed in a bit of A1.  Here’s how I would do it…

Then mix this all together & add it…

  • ¾ Cup of (Heinz) Ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter (Butter, not “buttery spread” or oil that’s whipped to make it look like butter.)
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Mustard (I use whatever we have… usually honey mustard.)
  • 1 Tablespoon A1 (optional)
  • Salt or season-salt to taste (optional)

This is best on the super-cheap hamburger buns… not those awesome homemade deli roll kind.  It really does taste like Manwich & it’s all stuff you probably have on hand.  It’s an easy crowd-pleaser, and its a double-whammy if you pair it with Mac n’ Cheese or ‘Tater Tots.

Try my meatball sub if you get a sale on ground beef.  Why are you still reading?  Go make this!

 

#MeatballSub #Recipe


So, I’ve been hungry for meatball subs.  They’re so simple to make, but we just never seem to do it at home.  I shared the photo on social media, because I’m weird like that and it annoys people, and some people seemed to dig it.  wanted to share how easy it was with a minimal amount of effort.

So, the wife got a pound of ground meat from Aldi the other day, and I picked up the rest of the stuff that we didn’t already have at Giant Eagle on my way home from work.  I probably could have gotten all of this from Aldi.

So this is what I used…

  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • a handful or two of finely shredded fancy 6 cheese “Italian” stuff – I started with a 2 cup bag.  We always have this or something similar around.
  • Whatever “shake cheese” you put on spaghetti. I have Parmigiano-Reggiano because they think it needs to sound fancy.
  • A handful of crackers.  We had “club” crackers from Aldi
  • Italian Dressing (we seem to really dig Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian)
  • A jar of cheap-ass pizza sauce  (I probably should have used some better marinara sauce)
  • Spices (Season All, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika …whatever floats your boat.)
  • Brown sugar
  • Sub buns (I like the Cellone’s or bakery ones, but I was being cheap this shopping trip and got some weird mass-produced ones.)
  • EVOO
  • Butter

And this is what I did…

Meatball Subs

MEAT.

Turn the oven on first so you don’t have to worry about it later.  Put it on 375° because that’s always what they seem to say to put it on.  I don’t know why.  I don’t even know who they are.

I made some meatballs with the meat, some hand-crushed crackers, a dash of the pizza sauce, a dash of Italian dressing, a dash of whatever spices I grabbed off the rack (probably pepper, season all, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika), a bit of the Parmesan shake cheese and the mysterious “six cheese Italian” stuff.

I put some spices on the outside because why not, and tossed them into a frying pan with EVOO and a small pat of butter on the bottom.  I pre-heated it to high, then turned it to 6 before I tossed in the balls.  6 is at about 6:00 on my stupid electric stove top.

I melted a bit of butter in the microwave.  I quickly cut open the buns, put them on a baking sheet, spread on some melted butter with a brush and added… garlic powder, onion powder, a dash of shake cheese, and “Italian seasoning” to the buns.  No Italian seasoning for my wife, and no garlic powder for my 2½ year old.  I popped them in the 375° oven on the middle rack for a bit.

I used tongs to turn the meatballs over & popped a lid on the pan.

I dumped the remaining pizza sauce into a soup cup (it was a little jar), and added a sprinkle of brown sugar.  I nuked it for 45 seconds or so.  Why?  I like sweet sauce, and grandma always said “it cuts the acid.”

I turned the meatballs on to an undone side, and got the sub rolls out of the oven.  I knew they were done because… I didn’t even look at them.  I just took them out.  They looked fine.  Plus, we’re not totally finished.  I added some pizza sauce and some of the finely shredded awkwardly named cheese to the buns.

I made sure the meatballs weren’t going to kill us with the food thermometer.  They weren’t.  I put those on the buns and added more sauce, shredded cheese, and shake cheese.

I set some meatballs aside for my 10 month old.  The sandwich was a little much for him, but he will eat just about anything you put in front of him.  Seriously.  even if it’s not edible.

I put the now built subs into the oven and cranked the knob to 400° because I am impatient and my 2½ year old kept asking if lunch was ready.  I turned the light on in the oven and watched the cheese melt.  Not only was that fun, I could also make sure I wasn’t going to burn the bejesus out of things.  I didn’t.  I took it out in time.

Well, some of the cheese that fell on to the baking sheet burned, because I made a mess.  Oh well.

These were pretty good, although next time I will use different/better sauce.  That squeeze stuff isn’t bad.  Maybe I can make a simple marinara.  Also, homemade-ish deli rolls or Cellone’s are worth it… and I would cut a little triangle out of the top like Subway used to, before we were over-saturated with them and they started to serve terrible cream-of-deathfish.

At any rate.  This is easy to do.  You could buy your own meatballs or bake your own bread or use cheese slices to make this as easy or as difficult as you like.  I cut my 2½ year old’s into 3 sections so she had sliders.  I cut my wife’s in 2.  I ate the whole thing in one big sandwich like a hungry hungry pig.  I refuse to apologize.

Share photos of yours or links to your own blogged recipe in the comments!

 

Your favorite pizza sucks, my favorite pizza rules! (Part 2)


So, last time I blogged about pizza, I covered some of my favorites: Aiello’s, SLICE, & A’Pizza Badamo.  This time I’ll blog about other area big-hitters.

Beto's Pizza on UrbanspoonBeto’s is another place nearby that is just excellent.  They’re the place that you’ve probably heard of that doesn’t cook the cheese & other toppings.  You’ll probably either love it or hate it.  I dig it, the wife does not.  The only thing I’d change is the consistency of the sauce… I’m not a fan of chunks of tomatoes in pizza sauce, but the flavor is excellent.  They don’t get all fancy with toppings here either, just simple, straightforward pizza with cheese that’s melting as you eat it.  I think my favorite way to eat it is just as plain cheese pizza.  Why mess up such a beautiful combination?

Molly's Pizza on UrbanspoonMolly’s Pizza is close by too.  They have some great pizza, and some really crazy specialty pies like the Ranchero Steak Pizza and the Pierogi Pizza.  I personally like to get a pizza with zucchini on top.  Excellent stuff!  It’s hard to pick a favorite around here.

Fiori's Pizzaria on UrbanspoonFoiri’s is a south hills institution.  Sorry, I don’t get it.  Is it good pizza?  Most definitely.  Is it overrated?  In my humble opinion, yes.  Maybe I’m biased because you can get deathfish as a topping there.  At any rate, if you’re in the area and a pizza aficionado, it’s worth checking out before you decide that Slice is the best place around.

Il Pizzaiolo on UrbanspoonIl Pizzaiolo isn’t your regular Pittsburgh pizza shop.  They’re fancy.  They have great pies in a steep Neapolitan tradition.  As they say themselves…

…the restaurant has become a vibrant gathering place for lovers of Neapolitan pizza, pasta and Italian wine. Nearly everything on the menu is hand-made. And if it’s not made in-house, it’s imported from the best artisans, cheese-makers and salumeria in the world. Mozzarella di Bufala comes direct from Naples every Thursday and the pizzas are baked at 1000˚ in a handcrafted, wood-fired brick oven for less than 90 seconds. This, along with perfectly leavened dough, San Marzano tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, produces the most authentic Neapolitan pizza possible.

So obviously, this is no Pizza Hut.  They make incredible gourmet pies.  Unfortunately it’s entirely not what I’m craving when I “just want a pizza”.  This is where you want to go when you’d like a nice evening out to enjoy some of the lightest most delicious pizza you’ve ever eaten.

Italian Village Pizza (Canonsburg/McMurray) on UrbanspoonItalian Village Pizza is all over the place.  Both by location and quality.  They used to have a killer A1 Steak Sub at the one on Rte. 51, but I don’t think they have that any more.  The last one I frequented was the one in McMurray, but I only ever got the pizza once or twice.  The steak & Italian subs are incredible, but the sauce was just too bitter for me.  It tasted like straight tomato paste with some basil thrown in.  Some people love it, but it just wasn’t my thing.

Here I’d also like to try to address this thing…

VinceNt’s vs. Vincent’s

I’m still not sure what the exact dispute is… if there’s still a dispute, and if there are only two Vincent’s involved in this saga.  Can anyone fill me in on this?  I’ve heard several amalgamated stories over the years.  Some credible news even.  First, you’ve got to get your head around the locations…

There’s Vincent’s Pizza ParkOne on 30 in Irwin/North Huntingdon, one on Ardmore Blvd., and one in Holiday Park (the one I used to frequent).  And there’s Vincent’s “of Greentree” …oddly enough in Greentree, Southpointe, and the West End.  (There also seems to be a Vincent’s Pizza Pub on Mt. Washington – I’m unsure if they’re related to any of the others.)

I haven’t been to Vincent’s Pizza Park in Holiday Park in a long long time, but I remember it as the greasiest pizza I have ever had.  It was good, but greasy.  Some people like that.  I’m not the biggest fan of grease, but I remember they had a nice thick crust & a flavorful sauce.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Vincent’s in Greentree, but the one in Southpointe has great steak subs, garlic buns, and pretty good pizza.  Their “like it” percentage on Urbanspoon is pretty low though.  No idea what’s up there.

Vincent's Pizza Park on Urbanspoon Vincent's of Southpointe on Urbanspoon

Which Vincent’s is your favorite?  Which Vincent’s location is the best & the original?  (I think it’s Vincent’s in Forest Hills)

Please, chime in on any of these locations, any from my previous pizza post, or any that I may have missed.  I may dive into pizza chains next.  Pizza is always a subject of hot debate (and it goes well with beer).

Radical!

Radical!

Your favorite pizza sucks, my favorite pizza rules! (Part 1)


Dare I say no food can be as unifying and polarizing as Pizza?  Generally, it’s the one thing most people like.  Need to feed a bunch of people quickly?  Kids birthday party?  Reward for good achievements?  Pizza party!  It’s the go-to feed a herd food.  Unless someone’s lactose intolerant or has a food allergy to tomatoes or something…  I’ve never heard someone exclaim anything to the effect of “Free pizza?  Ew!  No thank you!”  I’ve heard a friend say “Pizza is like sex, there’s no such thing as bad pizza.”  I’m pretty sure he’s paraphrasing a comedian, but I have no idea who.  No matter where the sentiment lies on the corny scale, he’s right.  Most pizza is acceptable sustenance if not worthy of writing online reviews, letters to your mom, or several stanzas of poetry.

At the same time, a simple statement like “[So & So] makes the best pizza!” can make the most passive among us throw-down in an instant.  I’m pretty sure if Canada called up, and said “Hey United States, we have better pizza than you!” – there would be a full-scale invasion, and we’d soon have another big state.  (Maybe minus Quebec, the Queen Mum can keep that one.)  I’m guessing that unless you’re from Quebec or you for some reason hate pizza, you’re still with me, right?

Slices from SLICE

Slices from SLICE

Here’s the plan:  I’m going to tell you about my favorite pizza, and you’re going to tell me about your favorite pizza.  We’ll all try to remain calm.  When you’re wrong, I’ll tell you… so don’t be afraid.  This will probably be limited to Pittsburgh due to my geographical location.  So, if there’s pizza from somewhere else that you want to tell me about, you can… & I’ll assume you’re wrong until I go try it.  If the place is local (to me), even better.  I may go try it.

Side note – In case you’re new, I’m deathly allergic to shellfish (& mollusks). I’m not too excited to try pizza from places that offer shrimp, lobster, crab or any other kind of deadly sea-bugs as pizza toppings. I generally don’t feel “safe” when they can put their hands in one topping to put on someone else’s pie, then into my toppings without washing their hands… or to (even worse) perhaps drop some on my pie.

Sometimes you’re in the mood for different kinds of pizza.  It’s OK to like more than one.  Shocking, I know.  Here’s the beginning of my run-down on local pizza:

Aiello's Pizza on UrbanspoonAiello’s is up first, because well… they’re my favorite.  Their sauce is nothing short of perfection to my humble taste-buds.  It’s sweet but it doesn’t lose the flavor of the tomatoes.  I love pizza sauce that doesn’t have that bite that you get from tomato paste.  The dough is perfect doughey goodness, yet thin enough so it’s not like you’re eating a loaf of bread with pizza toppings.  Aiello’s is always clean, and it’s cool to watch ’em make the pies right there in front of you.  The seemingly gruff employees just are who they are.  They’re all nice guys.  They call my father-in-law “Anchovy Bobby” for his dedication as a customer and obviously now I guess… affection for anchovies.  Well, I did get yelled at by Joe once for being late to pickup a pizza.  I was fighting traffic down Forbes all the way from Oakland to Squirrel Hill.  But, he was concerned about pizza quality (and perhaps that he had been stiffed the cost of a pizza).

Mineo's Pizza House (Squirrel Hill) on UrbanspoonI guess if I’m talking Squirrel Hill and pizza, I have to mention the other guys.  I’ve had Mineo’s, but to be fair… it was only once.  I don’t see a reason to go back when Aiello’s is a few doors up the hill.  It was greasy, and they offer deathfish as a topping.  Boo, I say.  One thing you can’t argue is that they have just as devout a following as Aiello’s.  You’ll get lovers & haters on both sides of the issue.  I think it’s probably good for both businesses to have such a famed & heated rivalry.  (Legend goes that Joe worked at Mineo’s, then split to make his own name making pies his way.  Check out this article, this YouTube video, and this Facebook group for more.)

SLICE on Broadway on UrbanspoonI have found a new additional favorite closer to home in Dormont… SLICE on Broadway in Beechview is excellent.  Hoping my father-in-law’s ears aren’t burning, I’m going to go ahead and say that SLICE is every bit as good as Aiello’s.  Read the reviews on UrbanSpoon, Yelp, & Google.  All those people can’t be wrong, can they?  The guys that run the place seem really friendly, the place is clean, and easy to get to for me anyway.  Here again, it all comes down to the sauce.  The sauce here has a slightly sweet tinge to it… and it’s fantastic.  The proportion of the sauce is great too, there’s no cheese sliding off of this pie on the 1st bite.  The amount of toppings is respectful & not a “look how many toppings we can put on” kind of thing.  These guys really just know how to put together a great pie, and I can’t wait to work my way through the menu.  It’s also kind of cool to sit there & watch the T go by… even though I could also do the same thing from my front porch.  They get bonus points for having “The Big Salad” on their menu and for still being excellent the next day.

A'Pizza Badamo on UrbanspoonA'Pizza Badamo on UrbanspoonA’Pizza Badamo is another great nearby shop.  They, like SLICE, seem to have a “No B.S.” approach to making pizza.  Fresh ingredients, simple pies, done right, & value for the money.  I also need to work my way through this menu.  I’m anxious to try the Eggplant Parmesan sub.  The one & only thing that may give SLICE a slight edge (to me anyway) is the sauce.  A’Pizza Badamo’s sauce has a little more savory flavor than sweetness.  Like I said, I like sweet sauce.  Then again, I think I’m going to have to try many many more pies from each place to decide who the champion is.  I hope to never be able to make up my mind.  These guys are also really a class act, the place is quaint, clean, and a relaxing place to hang out.

Well, those are my favorites (& one not-so favorite, I guess)… and it’s a lot to take in right now.  Perhaps I’ll have to make this a series of posts.  I could do a post just about the pizza shops in & around Dormont.  It’s an almost endless list.

At any rate, before I continue my pizza tirade… let the comments begin!  Where are your favorites?