Freezing And Later Baking Unbaked Pies - ☺
Frozen pies take longer to bake than freshly made pies, and they should be baked from the frozen state.
Freezing an unbaked pie yields a better fresh fruit flavor than freezing a baked pie, but the bottom crust tends to get soggy unless you follow the recommendation immediately below.
Freeze the filling and crust separately to prevent the fruit juice from penetrating and softening the lower crust during freezing.
Freeze the fruit filling in one plastic wrap lined pie pan and the bottom dough in another unlined identical size pie pan.
After freezing put the filling, without the plastic wrap, into the frozen bottom dough.
Let the outside edge of the bottom crust partially thaw. Brush that edge with a light coating of whisked egg white.
Cover the pie with room temperature dough, pinch the top dough together with the outside edge of the partially thawed bottom dough, cut slits as necessary, and freeze the combination.
Wrap the entire pie tightly in aluminum foil. Return the pie to the deep freeze until you are ready to bake it.
Always put frozen pies on cookie sheets prior to baking to catch any juices that might overflow. Putting aluminum foil between the pie pan and the cookie sheet will usually keep the cookie sheet clean even with juice overflow, and that makes cleanup easier.
For baking, use 425 degrees for 25 minutes and then 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, covering the top crust with aluminum foil if the crust bakes to a light golden color before the end of the second baking period.
Other Essential Considerations:
Light colored fruit pies (Peach, etc.) will retain color better if 1/2 tsp. of ascorbic acid is added to the filling prior to freezing.
Add an additional 1/2 tbsp. of cornstarch to juicy fillings prior to freezing to avoid later boiling over during baking. Tapioca is an even better choice as a supplemental thickening agent, or use modified food starch like Thermoflo® if it is sold at your supermarket.
Graham Cracker Pie Crust - ☺♥
This recipe is included in this book only because a graham cracker pie crust is the best base crust to be used for the yummy Banana Cream Pie recipe shown earlier in this book. You can vary the amounts of the ingredients shown. For example, a bit more sugar and butter will produce a heavier less crumb like crust, which you may or may not like.
1 1/2 cups of finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of white sugar
8 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (optional)
Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter or margarine, and cinnamon until well blended. Press the mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.
Bake at 375º F for 10 minutes. Cool.
Note: If the recipe calls for an unbaked pie shell then chill the unbaked crust in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Oreo® Cookie Pie Crust - ☺
This recipe is included only because it is the best base crust for the fabulous Chocolate Cream Pie recipe shown earlier in this book.
As you might expect, an Oreo® cookie crust consists primarily of Oreo® cookies. While the amount of cookies needed to create a crust can vary depending on the size of the crust and the thickness desired, start with about 1-1/2 cups of finely crushed Oreo® cookie crumbs. That works out to approximately 20-22 Oreo® cookies. A 20 ounce package of Oreo’s® typically contains about 51 cookies, so you may be able to make two crusts out of one box. You will also need 3 tablespoons of melted butter for each crust made. It doesn't matter which flavor of Oreo® is used as the recipe remains the same.
First, mix the Oreo® cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl with a spoon until they're well mixed and have a consistent texture.
Use your fingers to press the crust into a pie plate or spring form pan.
If you're baking the filling in the crust, there's no need to bake the crust first.
If you are filling the crust with a cream filling that is chilled, you will want to bake the crust for 10-15 minutes at 350º F and then chill the crust in the refrigerator before filling it. Baking the crust helps to keep it firm when the pie is cut.
Oreo® Cookie Crust Variations:
To make a mint Oreo® cookie crust, add 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract to the melted butter before mixing with the crumbs.
Another option is a vanilla Oreo® cookie crust. Simply use vanilla Oreo’s® instead of original Oreo’s®, and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the recipe.
For a cinnamon or coffee taste, you can also try adding 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon or 1 tablespoon of espresso powder.
Baby Back Ribs - ☺♥
To save time and effort I usually slow cook baby back ribs in a 225º F to 250º F oven for four to five hours to render the fat out and also to have very tender meat. Then I use the fantastic Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce® and baste them and then slow cook them for an additional 30 minutes. The recipe for the Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce® is next in this section of the recipe book.
I’ve yet to try this specific recipe, but read on. It is well thought out and it has good explanations, so I have included it in my book.
I make baby back ribs fairly often, and I have smoked many meats, fowl and fish so I know the information provided is good. In fact it is very educational for those lacking experience when barbecuing pork, and that is why I included it.
Note that there is a recommendation in this recipe to slash the baby back ribs membrane on the backside of the ribs between the bones while raw, or if you can, remove the membrane altogether. These steps are supposed to aid in rendering the fat out during baking or smoking. It sounds like a good idea but I have yet to try it. Also, complete removal of the membrane is said to be somewhat difficult.
I preserved the most of the text of this recipe as I found it on the Internet, so the first person comments within it are not mine.
Serves 2 adults.
Preparation time: Overnight dry rub marinating is optional.
Cooking time: We will be cooking low and slow at about 225°F, so allow 5 to 6 hours for St. Louis Cut ribs and 3 to 4 hours for baby back ribs. Thicker, meatier slabs take longer, and if you use rib holders so they are crammed close to each other, add another hour.
One grill with a cover. You can use a dedicated smoker or any charcoal grill or gas grill as long as it has a cover. A tight fitting cover with adjustable vents like those on the Weber® Kettle is best.
One 18 pound bag of charcoal briquettes for grills or smokers. You won't use all that charcoal, but because you will need more on cold, windy, or wet days than on sunny and warm days, have a full bag on hand. Hardwood lump is best, but regular briquettes will do fine. Absolutely do not use the instant igniting stuff that has solvent in it. Chimney starters are by far the best way to start charcoal, especially for long slow cooking where the smell of the solvent in charcoal starter fluid can ruin the taste of the meat.
One tank of propane for gas cookers. You won't need it all, but, until you get the hang of this technique, don't risk running out by starting with a partial tank.
Eight ounces of wood chips. It doesn't matter how many slabs you are cooking, 8 ounces should be enough. I prefer chunks of apple, oak, or hickory for pork. Never use any kind of pine unless you want meat that tastes like turpentine. Never use construction lumber because it is often treated with poisonous chemicals to discourage rot and termites. You do not need to soak the wood.
One pair of long handled tongs.
1 sauce brush, preferably one of the silicon types
One good digital oven thermometer
One six pack of cold beer (for the cook!)
One lawn chair
One good book and plenty of tunes
One slab of SLC (Saint Louis Cut) ribs. That's 1/2 slab per adult. If you use baby back ribs get a whole slab per adult. You'll probably have leftovers, but what's wrong with that? SLC’s are the meatiest and most flavorful ribs. They are spareribs with the tips removed so they form a nice rectangular rack. You can use baby back ribs if you prefer. They are smaller and cook faster. Country ribs come from the shoulder and are not really ribs, so don't use them for this recipe. Get fresh, not frozen meat if possible. Fresh meat has the best pork flavor and the most moisture. Ever notice the pink liquid when you defrost meat? You can't get that back into the meat, so buy fresh meat whenever possible. Ask the butcher to remove the membrane on the backside.
Three tablespoons of vegetable oil
Four tablespoons of Meathead’s Memphis Rub® or a similar spice rub
One cup of your favorite barbecue sauce.
Rinse the ribs in cool water to remove any bone bits from the butchering and any bacterial film that grew in the package (don't worry, cooking will sterilize the meat). Pat dry with paper towels.
If the butcher has not removed the membrane from the backside, do it yourself. There can be a lot of fat under there and you want to scrape some of it off. Insert a butter knife under the membrane, then your fingers, work a section loose, grip it with a paper towel, and peel it off. Finally, trim the excess fat from both sides. If you can't get the skin off, with a sharp knife, cut slashes through it every inch so some of the fat will render out during the cooking.
Coat the meat with a thin layer of vegetable oil because most of the flavorings in the rub are oil soluble, not water soluble. The oil should help the flavor get into the surface and for a better crust. A lot of seasoned barbecue cooks use a base of mustard, but I think oil works better. Sprinkle enough Meathead’s Memphis Dust® to coat all surfaces but not so much that the meat doesn't show through. That is about 2 tablespoons per side depending on the size of the slab. Many of the herbs and spices in the rub are oil soluble, so the vegetable oil will help them penetrate a little better. Spread the Memphis Dust on the meat, rub it in, and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. Some folks insist on putting the rub on the night before, but I don't think this is necessary.
Set up the cooker for two cooking zones. That means that one side is hot and the other is not. If you have a gas grill, use only one burner. Put a disposable aluminum pan with water on top of the hot burner. Moisture and combustion gasses in a propane grill combine to create a seductive, bacon-like flavor in the meat. If it has only one burner, put the water pan between the meat and the burner. If you have a charcoal grill, start with a full chimney, about 75 briquettes, and push the coals to one side. You can use a water pan, but it is not necessary. If you have an offset firebox smoker, follow the instructions for setting up an offset smoker. If you have a bullet smoker like the Weber® Smokey Mountain, again follow the directions.
Adjust the temperature. Preheat your cooker to about 225°F and try to keep it there throughout the cook. Adjust the air intake dampers at the bottom to control heat on charcoal grills. Intake dampers are more effective than exhaust dampers for controlling the temp because they reduce the supply of oxygen to the coals. Take your time getting the temp right. Cooking at 225°F will allow the meat to roast low and slow, liquefying the collagen in connective tissues and melting fats without getting the proteins knotted in a bunch. It's a magic temperature that creates silky texture, adds moisture, and keeps the meat tender. If you can't hit 225°F, get as close as you can. Don't go under 200°F and try not to go over 250°F.
Smoke. For charcoal or gas cookers, add 4 ounces of wood at this time. On a gas grill, put the wood right as close to the flame as possible. On a charcoal grill, put it right on the hot coals. Resist the temptation to add more wood. Nothing will ruin a meal faster and waste money better than oversmoked meat. You can always add more the next time you cook, but you cannot take it away if you oversmoke.
Relax. Put the slabs in the cooker on the cooler side of the grill, meaty side up. Close the lid and go drink a beer and read a book.
More smoke. When the smoke disappears after 20-30 minutes, add another 2 ounces of wood. After the first hour, stop adding wood. Adding wood at the beginning of the cook allows better penetration before the meat surface seals itself.
If you have more than one slab on, halfway through the cook you will need to move the ribs closest to the fire away from the heat, and the slabs far from the flame in closer. Leave the meat side up. There is no need to flip the slabs. Otherwise, keep your lid on. Opening the lid just upsets the delicate balance of heat, moisture, and air inside your cooker. It can also significantly lengthen the cooking time.
The Texas crutch. This step is optional. It involves wrapping the ribs in foil with a little liquid for up to an hour to speed cooking and tenderize a bit, but not a lot. Almost all competition cooks use the crutch to get an edge. If you want to skip this step, feel free, you'll still have killer ribs.
The bend test. Do this after 5 to 6 hours for St. Louis Cut ribs or 3 to 4 hours for baby back ribs. The exact time will depend on how thick the slabs are and how steady you have kept the temperature. If you use rib holders so they are crammed close to each other, add another hour. Check to see if they are ready. I like the bend test (a.k.a. the bounce test). Pick up the slab with tongs and bounce them. If the surface cracks and is almost ready to break, it is ready.
Sauce. Now paint both sides with your favorite home made barbecue sauce or store bought sauce and put it back in to bake the sauce on. Better still, move the slab directly over the hottest part of the grill in order to caramelize and crisp the sauce. On a charcoal grill, just move the slab over the coals. On a gas grill, remove the water pan and crank up all the burners. On a water smoker, remove the water pan and move the meat close to the coals. On an offset smoker, put a grate over the coals in the firebox and put the meat there. With the lid open so you don't roast the meat from above, sizzle the sauce on one side (only for a few minutes with a hot grill) and then the other. One coat of a thick sauce should be enough, but if you need two, go ahead, but no more! Don't hide all the fabulous flavors under too much sauce. If you think you'll want more sauce, put some in a bowl on the table, but only if the sauce tastes okay without caramelizing.
If you've done all this right, you will notice that there is a thin pink layer beneath the surface of the meat. This does not mean it is undercooked! It is the highly prized smoke ring caused by the combustion gases and the smoke. It is a sign of Amazing Ribs. Now be ready to take a bow when the applause swells from the audience.
Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce® - ☺♥
This is one “perfect” barbecue sauce … so much so that I simply deleted my other recipes for barbecue sauce. It is not cloyingly sweet. It has a great taste. If you are hooked on very sweet barbecue sauces you will have to look elsewhere for a recommendation.
The way to use this sauce best is not at the table, though it tastes good at the table too. Baste it on baby back ribs that have already been baked at 225º F to 250º F for 4 to 5 hours. Then bake the basted ribs an additional 30 minutes.
Yield: 6 cups
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of table salt
2 cups of ketchup
1/2 cup of Yellow mustard
1/2 cup of cider or white vinegar
1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup of steak sauce
1/4 cup of dark molasses
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon of Texas Pete’s® Hot Sauce
1 cup of dark brown sugar (you can use light brown sugar)
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 or 2 teaspoons of Wright’s® liquid smoke hickory flavoring
1 tsp. of Koldkiss® concentrated sodium benzoate solution (optional)
Secret Ingredient: Add 2 tablespoons of Tamarind paste. This exotic ingredient isn't really all that exotic. It shows up on the ingredient lists of great BBQ sauces. It has a sweet citrus flavor and really amps up a sauce. If you can't find it in an Asian grocery it is available through the Internet.
I found tamarind paste in block form at an Asian market for $3.99 for a 16 oz. package. That was much cheaper than the tamarind advertised on the Internet (at the time) but the processing was a pain in the butt. Then I came across the Tamicon® brand of tamarind paste via Amazon.com and it was inexpensive and easy to use and excellent. I recommend buying the prepared paste instead of processing a block of tamarind that has fiber and seeds included.
The tamarind does make a fabulous difference. Friends and relatives are going nuts over how great this sauce is with baby back ribs. Yeah … that’s what good cooking is all about! Now, a few words about processing the purchased tamarind paste are in order. It sounds a lot worse than it is.
If you purchase/use a block of tamarind paste you will find that it is very dense. It contains pod fibers and sometimes a seed or two as well as the paste product that you want to use. This means you cut off a piece of tamarind paste of the size you want for the recipe, scaled up to allow for 50 percent waste. In other words, if you want two tablespoons of tamarind paste in your sauce then process four tablespoons of the product as purchased. Now, you soften the tamarind piece by cutting it into four pieces and putting them into a Pyrex® measuring cup. Cover the pieces with water and microwave on high heat until the water boils.
Remove the Pyrex® cup from the microwave oven and set it aside for 15 minutes as a softening period for the tamarind paste. This is the perfect time to prepare the bowls of other ingredients listed below under Directions.
Once softened you can use a coarse mesh sieve and a scraper to push the paste you want through the sieve into a bowl, while keeping the fibrous pod pieces in the sieve. You will discard the fibrous pod pieces. Be patient as this process will take about five minutes and you have to work the product with some gusto, sometimes twice as described next, to get all that you want through the sieve. I recommend processing only one piece of the softened tamarind at a time.
After processing one softened piece, if you think there is more paste to be extracted but more softening is needed then return that part to the measuring cup to soften further. Repeat with the other larger softened pieces when you process them and then reheat the measuring cup contents in the microwave oven for one minute. Then wait five minutes and go back an complete the processing of the "once processed" tamarind pieces. On second processing, you will certainly get all of the useful tamerind paste extracted. The paste you extract via the sieve will be moist and about the consistency of applesauce, and it is ready to be added to the barbecue sauce along with the other liquid or wet ingredients.
Mix the chili powder, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Mix the ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, lemon juice, steak sauce, molasses, honey, hot sauce, brown sugar, the sodium benzoate solution (optional) and finally the processed tamarind paste in a large bowl.
Warm the oil in a large saucepan Over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them until they are limp and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir it into the onions and cook for another minute or two.
Add the dry spices and stir well for about 2 minutes to extract their oil-soluble flavors.
Add the wet ingredients from the large bowl. Mix well, heat to a simmering temperature of about 180 degrees F and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes with the lid off to thicken the sauce.
Taste and adjust the sauce. Add more of anything that you want a little bit at a time. It may taste a bit vinegary at first, but that will be less obvious when you use it.
Process the sauce through a conical colander with a conical wooden roller if you want the chunks of onion and garlic to be completely crushed/integrated into the sauce (That is what I do). You can use the barbecue sauce immediately, but I think it is better when stored overnight. You can store it in clean bottles in the refrigerator for a month or two. I like to use canning jars for that purpose.
I have also vacuum sealed the sauce in small canning jars and I keep them stored in the refrigerator. That makes the shelf life even longer. I also added sodium benzoate to my last batch and now the shelf life will easily be a year or more.
Memphis Dry Rub Seasoning - ?
I have yet to try this dry rub for ribs. But as in a few other recipes in this book I believe the results will be excellent so I have included this recipe. Plus, it is mentioned as something to be used in the Baby Back Ribs recipe. When I try it I will report on my results. Note that the first person descriptions in this recipe belong to the provider, not to me.
In Memphis it is common for the best rib joints to serve their ribs "dry", without sauce, just a liberal sprinkling of spices and herbs. The most revered dry ribs are served at Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous® (called "The Vous" by the locals). In fact, the Vous is probably the most popular rib joint in the world. Notice I didn't say the best rib joint in the world.
Baby backs are the cut of choice and they are sprinkled liberally with their top secret seasoning. "We call it a seasoning, not a rub, because it is sprinkled on, not rubbed in," says Nick Vergos, Charlie's grandson.
Because The Vous is so famous and popular, people, especially the media, are always asking the owners for their seasoning recipe. But, and I know this might shock some of you, the one they give out is most definitely not the one they use in the restaurant or sell in the bottle! Yet the bogus recipe is all over the Internet.
How can I be so sure? The bottle label of Rendezvous Famous Seasoning® says "Spices, paprika (color), garlic, monosodium glutamate, salt and less than 2% silicon dioxide added to prevent caking." The recipe they give the media contains only salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, celery seed, paprika, and chile powder. But if you eat there or buy a bottle and sprinkle some in your hand, you can't miss the whole coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and allspice among other things. So I have tried to reverse-engineer it. My version is a lot closer to the real thing than the one so widely circulated, but it is not perfect.
When in Memphis, you have to do the Vous because it is so much fun, the staff is great, and it reeks of history. But it is not even in my top five in the area for ribs in my book. And forgive me if I'm biased, but most folks think Meathead’s Memphis Dust® is a better pork rub.
Yield. Makes a bit more than two cups, enough for about 12 pounds of ribs. You can keep in a jar for months.
Preparation time. 10 minutes.
8 tablespoons of paprika
4 tablespoons of powdered garlic
4 tablespoons of mild chili powder
3 tablespoons of ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of kosher salt
4 teaspoons of whole yellow mustard seed
1 tablespoon of crushed celery seed
1 tablespoon of whole celery seed
1 tablespoon of dried crushed oregano
1 tablespoon of dried crushed thyme
1 tablespoon of whole allspice seeds
1 teaspoon of ground allspice
1 tablespoon of whole coriander seed
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of Ac'cent®
About the Ac'cent®. The label of the Rendezvous Famous Seasoning® states that there is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in the blend. Ac'cent® is made of MSG and you can find it in the spice section of your store. MSG, also known as the sodium salt of glutamic acid, is a flavor enhancer as well as a natural byproduct of some aging and fermentation processes. Some people believe that MSG can cause headaches, but scientists have had difficulty proving the connection. The eminent food writer Jeffrey Steingarten has attempted to debunk what he considers to be an urban legend in a famous essay "Why Doesn't Everyone in China Have a Headache?©" One might also ask, "Why doesn't everyone who eats at the Vous have a headache?" If you don't like MSG, just leave it out.
Note. If you use a brine, leave the salt out of your rub.
Mix all the rub ingredients in a bowl, making sure to break up all lumps. Put it in an airtight jar.