Ric's Basic BBQ Brine and Rub

Ric’s Basic BBQ Brine and Rub

Brining and rubbing is the best way to achieve succulent BBQ where the flavor delivers from the crust to the core of your meat.
There a lot of variations on both but these are basics. I urge you not to use pricey things like exotic salts in the brine. Save that for your rub.
You shouldn’t brine things like a good steak that you may cook medium rare. Brining is best applied to slowly cooked meats like pork, beef ribs, turkey, game and chicken. You don’t so some much taste everything in the brine out front as much as feel it in the meats juices.
The special stuff is best used in rubs.

Basic Brine Recipe
1 cup salt
1 gallon water
¼ cup sugar
Other things to enhance?
Bay leaves, rosemary or fresh thyme for aroma.
Chopped onions
Allspice berries
Cumin seeds
Red wine ( for game)
Citrus slices (not juice)

FInd a vessel to brine in. You want to submerge your neat for at least 4 hours but not longer than 24 hours.
I find a small cooler lined with a garbage bag works great. The garbage bag makes clean up easy.
Mix your brine.
Submerge your meat and tie the top of the bag. If you don;t have enough room in the fridge just top with the bagged meat withice to keep it cool while brining.

My classic BBQ Rub.
Yes there a million variations on this but the essence is salt, pepper and sugar.
Those three components, combined with the fat of the meat and the tanginess of your sauce will hit ALL of your tastebuds!

Basic BBQ Rub
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup cumin
1/4 cup ancho chile powder
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/2 cup ground black pepper
1 tbls  cayenne
1/4 cup chipotle powder
1 cups paprika
2 tbls celery seed
Rub this into your meat all over well before cooking.
after 10 hours at 190 degrees you''l have this!

Zoodles with Shrimp and Ramp pesto

Podcast Recipe
Episode 1


Episode 1 Recipe
Zucchini Noodles with shrimp and ramp pesto.
My recipes are easy, BUT I want to impart the experience I have gathered into your cooking. Too many cooks make make tasty food but just miss on technique. Chin up, don't be daunted, my recipes are not just lists of ingredients but roadmaps to cooking more professionally at home. 
 Among other things this recipe with teach you to add the cheese to pesto AFTER it is out of the food processor so it doesn’t get gummy, AND to par sear your shrimp before assembling the dish so they don’t get cooked to rubber!
This dish is just as easy to make vegetarian, and to make it vegan, substitute nutritional yeast for the Romano cheese to taste

2 large zucchini OR 12 oz pre cooked spaghetti
12 large wild gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
Olive oil and neutral oil like sunflower or safflower oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A handful of cherry tomatoes , cut in half
¼ cup good quality olives, pitted and roughly chopped if they are real big
1 bunch of ramps, about 8
1 small bunch basil leaves
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted golden brown, divided into two piles
¼ pecorino romano cheese
Juice of half as lemon

Zucchini noodles.
If you have a vegetable noodle cutter, break it cut and prep the zucchini noodles into spaghetti size strands. I have also seen vegetable noodles precut in local supermarkets recently as they are all the rage.
If you are doing spaghetti, put on some water and get it cooking; you know how.

Ramp Pesto.
Bring small pot of salted water to a boil.
Remove the roots from the ramps, then cut the stems right up to the beginning of the leaves into small pieces and reserve half..
Plunge the leaves and half of the stem pieces into the boiling water for 5 seconds and then remove them with a spider or slotted spoon and run cold water on them until they are cool. Leave the water at a simmer.
Use a towel and squeeze out and excess water from the ramps.
Roughly chop the leaves and put them in a food processor with the basil, parsley, half of the sunflower seeds and a generous pinch of salt.  Pulse the machine to chop up the mix.
Now add a few tablespoons of the neutral oil and a bit of water a few drops at a time while the machine is running to make a relatively smooth pesto.
Remove from the processor to a bowl and fold in the cheese.
Taste for salt and adjust to your taste.

The dish.
Use a large heavy skillet. Heat it with enough olive oil to coat the pan until shimmering. Add the shrimp to the pan, not overlapping,  and season with a little salt. Cook the shrimp on one side until they are golden, then turn them over. Cook just another 30 seconds and then remove them from the pan and reserve.
While the pan is still hot add the cherry tomatoes and the reserved chopped ramp stems and saute to soften.
Add the olives and return the shrimp to the pan.
Now stir in about three quarters of the pesto.
Top this with a big mound of zucchini noodles. They will reduce to about a third of their volume when they cook.
Add a 2 ounces of the salted blanching water the the pan.
Cover it with a lid and let it gently steam for about three minutes.
Remove the lid and toss to coat everything with the pesto.
Hit it with a squeeze of lemon.
Taste for seasoning.
Serve it garnished with the remaining sunflower seeds.
Serve the remaining pesto and more cheese on the side.

Macaroni and Farmstand Peas

Podcast Recipe Episode 2
Macaroni and Peas
Episode 2 Recipe
My affair with peas, fresh pea soup and mac and peas.
The first days of summer is around the corner and the local veggies are just starting to pop. It has been a slow start this year here in the Hud-Val. Though we have have a few hot days, the chilly weather has lingered a little longer than usual. But now, past mid june, the early pop of peas and strawberries are upon us. It’s time to get to work.


Peas are an interesting early crop. The can be so delicious when fresh, but are bland and starchy if handled incorrectly. The trick with peas is to use them as soon as you can. As soon as they are picked from the plant, they begin the process of turning the natural sugars into starches. So if you get peas from the farmers market and you want them to be magically sweet, process them right away.


I have learned my lesson. Too often I would buy a big bag of fresh peas from the farm stand, bring them home and throw them in the fridge.  Two or three days later I would deal with them.. The results were always chalky and bland, So there is no time to waste. Pick em, shell em and cook em, or blanch them for one minute, shock them in ice water and then freeze them.


Oh yea, then you have frozen peas! Well, that ain’t so bad. Most frozen peas are always sweet because they are processed and frozen within 12 hours of picking. And--they are great in recipes, especially quick pastas and rice dishes.
So don’t DAWDLE. Eat em of freeze em the day you buy them!


My absolute FAVORITE dish when I was a kid was
Macaroni and Peas.
It was my mom’s go to dish to fill me up on a busy school night.
Elbow macaroni with sweet peas, butter, Parmigiana and black pepper. Nothing else. It is so simple and so perfect. In an Italian home, this was our version of mac’n’cheese. But better, way better.


Bring your salted water to a boil.
Serves 4
1 lb elbow macaroni
2 cups fresh shelled peas.
Half a stick unsalted butter (2 oz)
¼ cup grated Parmigiana cheese, or sardo, or Sonoma jack ( nothing processed please!)
Plus more on the table
Black pepper to taste, push it!


Drop the elbows in amply salted water to cook.  
When they are about almost ready add the peas. When the pasta is done, remove it from the pot with a spider to a large serving bowl.
Add about 2 oz of the pasta water and the butter.
Stir. Now add the cheese and about 6 twists of the peppermill.
Stir and serve hot.
Hit it with fresh grinds of black pepper and more cheese as you go.