Tag Archives: barbecue

PECOS PUEBLO AND BARBECUE

Instead of the traditional, requisite Memorial Day cookout, we decided to take a day trip. After putting the American flag at the mail box, we drove down the interstate to the Pecos Pueblo National Historical Monument. We had not been there for several years, and so we thought it would be a great visit. The weather was beautiful as was the drive up from Santa Fe to Glorieta Pass where the road to the monument takes off. Because the pass is one of the main breaks in the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico between the eastern plains and the Rio Grande basin, it is filled with history.

During the Civil War, the Confederates had organized the Confederate Arizona Territory which included southern parts of what are now Arizona and New Mexico (some things never change) with the ultimate goal of seizing the gold and silver mines of California and Colorado.  Santa Fe had fallen to the Confederates, and things were looking bad for Union forces until the two sides met in Glorieta Pass where the Colorado infantry and the New Mexico militia turned back the Confederates whose supply train was ultimately destroyed, forcing them to give up their effort.

Glorieta Pass is also where the Santa Fe Trail crossed from the prairies into the Santa Fe region. The trail followed earlier native American trails and was established in the late 1700s, but eventually became the main trade route from Missouri settlements in the United States with Mexico, of which Santa Fe was a part until the end of the Mexican War in 1848.

But preceding all of that, the region was the center of trade between the peoples of the plains and the pueblos. Pecos Pueblo sat at the juncture and became a thriving trade center. At its peak, there were over 2,000 individuals living in a five-story dwelling. The Spanish explorers first visited the pueblo in 1640 and immediately set about to convert the population to Christianity. A huge church was built to hold all 2,000 residents at one time. During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the church was set on fire and destroyed, but in the re-conquest, another, less grandiose church was built. Over time the pueblo fell on hard times and the population diminished until the few remaining individuals relocated to Jemez Pueblo. The structures fell into ruins – a sight-seeing side trip for folks traveling on the Santa Fe Trail. Now, only ruins remain, but the site is an impressive and interesting glimpse of the local history.

So much for my ramblings. Now it’s on to recipes. We decided to delay our traditional cookout and wound up having barbecued ribs, Susan’s famous brisket, Sarah’s herbed potato salad, coleslaw, and Southern buttermilk cornbread. For the barbecue, I used recipes from a cook book that has been in our family for 50 years: Walter Jetton’s LBJ Barbecue Cook Book (Pocket Books, Inc., New York, 1965, $1.00) Walter Jetton billed himself as caterer to the LBJ Ranch. He was from Fort Worth, but spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C. introducing Hubert Humphrey and other politicians to authentic Texas barbecue. Here are my modest revisions of his recipes for dry rib rub and barbecue mop, two essential condiments for barbecue.

Walter Jetton at the barbecue - from the cover of his 1965 cook book

Walter Jetton at the barbecue – from the cover of his 1965 cook book

RECIPES

Dry Rib Rub

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon powder
  • 3 teaspoons Accent MSG
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons paprika

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid
  2. Rub the mixture generously on all surfaces of the rack of ribs before you place it on the barbecue

Barbecue Mop

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Accent MSG
  • 2 teaspoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1½ cups Worcester sauce
  • ¾ cups white vinegar
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) beef stock
  • ¾ cups vegetable oil

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine first seven (dry) ingredients
  2. Stir in the liquid ingredients until completely mixed
  3. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature
  4. With a small (new) dish mop, brush on barbecue meats frequently as you cook them.
  5. Refrigerate any that is left over when you have finished barbecuing. Store it in a tightly-lidded jar. It will last for a long time.

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SANTA FE RESTAURANTS 2: THE RANCH HOUSE

Santa Fe is viewed by many as at the epicenter of red or green chile – chile stews of both colors and made with chicken, pork, beef, or whatever – along with posole, and carne adobado. There is also the ubiquitous green chile cheeseburger which causes big disagreements about who cooks the best.  At the same time good barbecue is hard to find. Texan tourists certainly agree with that! Josh’s Barbecue was one of the few oases in the desert even though it was tucked away in a hard-to-find strip mall.

The bad news is that Josh’s has closed. The good news is that the Ranch House has opened. This is Josh’s new venue located at 2571 Cristos Road in a beautiful new building complete with great views of the mountains and spacious courtyards for outside dining in warmer weather. The old-time favorites are still on the menu, but there are some new and interesting additions. There are several dining rooms inside, so don’t be put off by a full parking lot, because you will probably be seated quickly and served by one of the attentive staff.

Baby back ribs with greens and cornbread

The day we visited for lunch, the place was busy but not crowded. Susan chose the baby back rib plate, and I chose the green chile chopped brisket sandwich – a new experience for me.  The ribs came with real Southern greens and cornbread with just enough sugar to compromise between Yankees who like sugar and Southerners who don’t.  The sandwich was good, too, although I think I prefer either a classic chopped brisket sandwich or an authentic green chile cheeseburger. For me, the highlight of the meal was the little fry basket filled with crispy sweet potato fries.

Green chile chopped brisket sandwich with sweet potato fries

The drink selection was good though limited. Lots of beers of course, and wine (who drinks wine with barbecue?) The specialty drinks sounded good, and the pineapple margarita was a hit.

Pineapple margarita

The Ranch House is definitely worth checking out if you are a barbecue fan. And who isn’t?

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ELEGANT BARBECUE

“Elegant” and “barbecue” are two words that don’t seem to go together, and the concept seems to be an oxymoron. But recently my daughter and son-in-law prepared a feast for a client showing that you can create eye-popping food from old barbecue standbys.

Barbecued ribs

Of course, the main event – ribs – is something that you don’t want to mess with, especially if you are the weekend grill king and have a recipe that goes back to your grandfather.

Smoked-trout deviled eggs

But the side dishes can be as complex as your imagination. For example, deviled eggs are usually pretty ho-hum. Try to add some spice by using something like smoked trout.. You can do it easily if you have a backyard smoker, but you can even do it in your kitchen with a Cameron stove-top smoker.  Follow the directions, put a heap of wood chips in the bottom, close up the top, turn on the heat to medium, and smoke for 20 minutes or so. Just be certain that the lid fits tightly and is completely sealed. Otherwise the smoke alarm will disturb the neighbors. When the fish is smoked and the heat is off, carefully remove the lid of the smoker and transfer the trout to a cutting board where you can remove the skin and bones. Then flake the fish and mix it with a little of the sieved egg yolks from your hard-boiled eggs. Season as you wish and pipe the mixture into the waiting egg white halves. Decorate with whatever comes to mind – a sprig of fresh dill, a dab of caviar, or edible flowers.

Mortadella pigs-in-a-blanket

Hot dogs are pretty standard barbecue fare, and for me, nothing beats a well-grilled hot dog topped with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, and whatever else you can think of. Still, the lowly hot dog can hardly be considered elegant. Here’s how you dress it up – try tiny little mortadella sausages wrapped in pastry as pigs-in-a-blanket, and serve them with a piquant mustard-seed dipping sauce.

Frito chili canapé

Even chili and corn chips can be dressed up. Use your favorite chili recipe, preferably without beans, and then spoon it into those big corn chips designed for scooping dips. Garnish each one with a dab of sour cream and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese. Arrange the individual chips on a bed of lettuce and let the guests have a go. You and they will all have a good time with this twist on old-fashioned Frito pie.

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