Since I first visited the U.S.A in the summer of 2012, my taste buds have changed dramatically. The U.S is an absolute melting pot of ethnicities, and therefore there are a variety of cooking traditions that have their roots in countries from all over the world. This has then been adapted to factors such as the American climate, the native flora and fauna, what resources are already here, and of course, the existing cooking methods of the Native Americans. The U.S has a range of regional delicacies, all of which are rich in flavor and taste. The criticism Americans tend to have of British food is that it is too bland, that it may be under-seasoned and unadventurous. British people, I think, will be caught off-guard when first visiting the United States, simply at how flavorful the food is, and how greatly different it is from British cuisine. I know I was! American food is as different from British food as Spanish or Greek, and almost nothing I have yet seen has its roots in Britain. It seems like most of the cuisine here has its roots in mainland Europe, but it’s honestly all over the place.
One of my favorite subgenres of American cuisine is Barbeque. It’s been something of a renaissance for me these past few years, and it is certainly something I would never have tried prior to visiting the United States. I can trace my curiosity of this subgenre back to a single memory: in August of 2012 I was taking a road trip from Atlanta, GA to Eau Claire, WI. We stopped to eat at a restaurant that overlooked the scenic Lake Lure in the piney mountains of western North Carolina. My family and I were sat on the deck and my brother got himself a full rack of baby back ribs. My brother loves food, and felt at home in American restaurants, which give enormous portions in comparison to Europe. For my brother, quantity is just as important as quality. He seemed excited by the ribs and took a “before and after” photo, and I found myself suddenly intrigued as I looked at his finished plate with the neatly arranged bones picked clean of meat:
There was something artful and masculine about the endeavor, and I wanted to give it a go myself. The summer of 2015 is where I truly explored this dream of mine. At first I could only manage the half-rack (these were in the days before I got my eating troubles diagnosed by my doctor) and our first port of call was Texas Roadhouse in Eau Claire, WI. I then got the best ribs I have EVER had at the world-famous BBQ restaurant Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City (the Mecca of Barbeque), that was listed by Anthony Bourdain as one of the 13 restaurants to eat at before you die. Those pork ribs were superlatively good. I then enjoyed similar experiences at Famous Dave’s and BJ’s, in Eau Claire and Houston respectively.
Anyway- after this gargantuan introduction- I am sure you have figured at this point that our next Tasty experiment was an attempt at their Slow Cooker Ribs. This was easy enough to make, but it yielded mixed results. My roommate and I found them to be adequate, if not succulent. My buddy is not quite the BBQ addict that I am, so he ended up quitting the ribs and reheating some pasta, though he insisted that their problem was not that they tasted bad; they were just blander than we had hoped for. So this week I have been eating 6lbs of cold ribs, and they have been ok, but the sauce is more spicy than the sweet, tangy taste one associates with BBQ, and ultimately, they failed to capture the magic of Oklahoma Joe’s.
2 cups of bbq sauce
1/4 cup of brown sugar
4 Tbsp. of cider vinegar
3 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. of cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. of chili powder
3 lbs of baby back ribs
salt & pepper
Combine bbq sauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and chili powder in a small bowl.
Salt and pepper the ribs. Place ribs in slow cooker, cover in sauce. Cook low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
After the ribs are done, spoon the bbq sauce in the slow cooker over the ribs before removing. Cut the ribs, serve with bbq sauce. Enjoy!