Smoked Ribs, a Tribute to the Zü

Christian and I don’t eat a lot of meat these days. We’re not vegetarians, but we are recovering graduate students and meat lightens our pockets more quickly than vegetables do. During my senior year of college, I lived in a vegetarian COOP called “the Zü.”  Initially, I was non-too-pleased about the idea of eating meat just once a week. (I’m from the Midwest, where the main food groups are meat and potatoes and sweet corn is considered a “vegetable.”) However, I am forever grateful to my “crunchy granola” housemates for teaching me that vegetarian food doesn’t have to taste like cardboard and leave you severely malnourished. They helped me re-imagine my dinner plate. Vegetables went from being “side dishes” flanking over-portioned hunks of animal protein, to center plate all-stars laced with flavor and accented by lesser-known proteins, like lentils, peanuts, black beans, chickpeas, yogurt, eggs, and quinoa.

Look at all us hippies!

On the rare occasion that we cooked meat at the Zü – about once a month – the meal took on ritualistic proportions. We savored every moment of the process, from prep to first bite. Meatlovers would come out of the woodwork, following the wafting scents into the kitchen.

Peeling crawfish in the Zü kitchen

In loving memory of those nights in the Zü kitchen with barbeque slow-cooking in the oven, I decided to smoke some ribs…

St. Louis-style ribs from WFM

Christian and I bought these ribs from Whole Foods Market. It was an impulse buy; we were cruising past the meat counter, and these babies caught our eye. One look at each other and there was a mutual understanding that this meat needed to be in our bellies and not behind a glass counter.

Rubbed ribs

A nice trick learned from Tyler Florence (TFlo)…Mix lime juice, water, and white vinegar, add to BBQ rub of choice to form a paste that will adhere to the ribs and create a thick, savory crust when cooked. Caution: be sure your BBQ rub isn’t overly salty. We learned that the hard way.

Cedar planks courtsey of Betty Hahn

First, I placed the ribs over soaked cedar planks to protect them from the hot coals. They cooked this way for about 30 minutes.

Smokin'

When the ribs were nearly cooked through, I threw the wet planks on top of the coals and placed the ribs on the hot grate.

We bought this grill for $25 off some grad students

I covered the grill and let the ribs smoke for another 10 minutes or so. Then I took the lid off and fed the fire, which created a good charred crust on the meat.

Deliciousness.

Isn’t that beautiful???

My first ribs

Helloooooo ribs!!!

Man eats rib.

Satisfied husband = Mission accomplished

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6 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Food, Nostalgia

6 responses to “Smoked Ribs, a Tribute to the Zü

  1. Ralph Cousins

    The group may have sworn off meat but evidently not beer.

  2. Noel Rodriguez

    Looks good. The trick is to give the meat a crust on the grill briefly with a very good rub then you take the ribs, wrap them in foil, and slow cook them for however long ( based upon pounds) you have. The ribs will be so tender that you don’t need teeth to eat them! I will privately give you my rub for ribs if you want it.
    Cheers,

    • golfharp

      Thanks for the tips Noel. I’ll put them into practice next time I take a stab at ribs. Feel free to email me your rib rub recipe when you have time.

  3. Shannon

    My meat-eating approach changed forever after Zu living… Thanks for the moment of nostalgia! Now I just need a bite of those ribs…

    • golfharp

      I still remember our Saturday morning breakfasts at the Zu. We recovered from our Friday night Full Moon parties with eggs, fresh spinach, tomatoes, and feta. I can still picture you eating this (or something similar) in the Zu living room!

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