We barbecued ribs over the weekend. Talk about an involved process. It was like taking two slabs of meat to a day spa.
The first step was to gently pat the ribs dry. The second step was to apply a rub. I halfway expected the third step to call for wrapping them in fluffy white towels.
Instead, the third step was to soak wood chips. Wood chips are the aromatherapy of the grilling world.
The step after that was to make a mop sauce to keep the ribs from drying out. Of course. Who doesn’t need moisturizer?
After the pat down, the rub, the aromatherapy and the moisturizer, the recipe got technical as to where things went in the grill. The charcoal was at point A, which was parallel to a pan of water at point B, which was perpendicular to the meat at point C, which was at an angle from the wood chips at point D. Once I figured all that out, I went inside to make myself an engineering certificate to hang alongside my new fake masseuse license.
But that wasn’t the best part.
The aroma of smoked ribs? Good, but not the best part.
The tangy sweet mop sauce? Great, but not the best part.
Taunting neighbors and teasing family? Satisfying, but not the best part.
The best part was the very last line of the recipe: “After letting the ribs rest for 30 minutes, share them only with those who deserve them.” It was like the Little Red Hen had written a recipe for baby back ribs.
When you think about it, shouldn’t every recipe end like that?
I made a point of telling the family that the rib recipe gave explicit instructions that the ribs were to be shared only with those who deserved them.
A son-in-law jumped up and offered to help set the table, a daughter lunged from her chair and volunteered to make a salad, and our son offered to build a sunroom onto the back of the house.
I’d never seen such excitement, such enthusiasm, such interest in meal preparation. When the fervor appeared to wane, I simply dashed to the grill, lifted the lid and fanned the hickory smoke in the direction of the crowd.
Did I need anything chopped?
Why, yes, and jewelry would be nice, too.
Did I want ice in the glasses?
Lovely; and don’t forget, I do accept gift cards.
For a moment there, it looked like I would never again be alone in the kitchen. For any woman who has ever found herself isolated in the kitchen while the festivities bubble without her, it was a dream come true.
Then we brought the pampered ribs inside and consumed them with appropriate quantities of adulation, licking the platter clean. As quickly as they had appeared, they disappeared. Yes, the ribs and the family were gone.
It was nice while it lasted. I can tell you right now what we’re having for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.