Can someone bottle the smell of a charcoal grill for me?
I love it.
That’s one reason why I love grilling. Another is for the char and crunch it adds to all of my favorite foods. Tonight we grilled ribs and accompanied the rack with a grilled corn pasta salad.
I say “we” because my brother, Rahul totally owns the grill. Not in a manly I-need-to-grill-to-feel-like-a-man way, but because he really enjoys using a grill and it’s been a long time since he’s had access to a grill. Our apartment was on a 2nd floor with a balcony but they wouldn’t let you set the grill on it because it was a fire hazard. So, what were we going to do, put the grill inside? No way.
Now the grill lives in the garage in the backyard. That’s right, because I now have BOTH of those things. These little plots of land have given me the freedom to try my hand at new things like gardening and hosting guests for outdoor picnics. Rahul still handles the grill, but I totally made a kickin’ pasta salad to go with it.
Baby Back Ribs
For the rub:
1/3 cup Penzey’s BBQ 3000 (or more) – this mix of garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, mustard, all spice and other flavors make it a no-brainer, especially since I use it a lot
2 Tbsp Penzey’s Smoky 4/S Special Seasoned Salt
For the sauce:
Any of your favorite barbecue sauces. My preference was a Spicy Root Beer Barbecue Sauce from Williams-Sonoma.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grab a shallow baking dish or sheet and set the ribs inside it. I used pork ribs, but you can use beef if you like.
- Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the seasoned salt and 3 Tbsp BBQ 3000. Use your hands to rub the seasoning on the meat.
- Flip the ribs over and repeat the process with remaining seasoning.
- Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. In the mean time, prepare your grill.
- Once cooked, transfer the ribs to the grill and char them for 2-3 minutes on each side. You want that thick layer of crunch on top of the meat.
- Pick your favorite barbecue sauce and pour 1/2 cup into a small bowl. Using a food brush, paint the ribs with sauce until they are glistening with tanginess. Grill each side for 1 minute, then transfer to a plate.
Grilled Corn Pasta Salad
To make use of the grill while lit, we husked 4 sweet corn cobs from the farmer’s market and incorporated it into a pasta salad. We planned pasta salad for dinner but for some reason didn’t have the typical vegetables we call on for this recipe: cucumber, bell peppers, and onions. Instead, I grabbed some cherub tomatoes leftover from taco salads and a package of Gemelli with the grilled corn and dressing. It was delicious and the sweet corn brought a new flavor to our routine side dish.
Serves 4-6 (or makes good leftovers for lunch tomorrow)
- Pasta of your choice, I used Gemelli
- Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing – the secret to all my pasta salads (eventual “why I hate mayo” post coming soon)
- Cherub, cherry, grape or any freakin’ tomato you want
- Freshly chopped basil
- 4 ears of corn
- Canola oil
- Cook pasta per directions on the box. Drain and add to a bowl that fits your fridge. Chill pasta for one hour to bring down the temperature by the time you want to eat. You can also make this a day ahead.
- Husk the ears and pull out as many fuzzy hairs as you can.
- Brush the ears with canola oil by wetting a paper towel and rubbing it over the corn. This helps keep the corn from sticking to the grill.
- Grill for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Try to get a good crust on it.
**Tip – if you make this with the ribs, just prepare the grill when the ribs are about 2/3 done and cook the corn. This way you can give it time to cool down before your ribs are done grilling so you can chop it off and add it to the pasta salad.
You can see all of the little hairs I didn’t get out of the corn. It’s okay.
- When it’s not too hot to handle, hold the corn on one end in a shallow bowl or baking dish. With a sharp knife, saw down the side of the cob.
- Add the chopped corn and tomatoes into the bowl with the pasta. Pour Newman’s dressing over the pasta and mix well.
- Season with salt and pepper and add some fresh basil, just enough for serving your own portions. Don’t try to incorporate it into the whole bowl of salad – it will get slimy and wilted if you want to eat the leftovers tomorrow, so just clip it from the plant and add it right before you eat.