Best Sunday Dinner Ever (Includes recipe)
Guest Post by Ruby Dee
This past Sunday, my venerable husband and I took a drive out to the countryside. I’d been invited to participate in a tour through one of our local organic farms northeast of Austin, and we jumped at the chance to get out of town to someplace where you could smell fresh, clean, chicken dung-scented air.
Richardson Farms is a small independently owned ranch, actually. They raise chickens, turkeys, and hogs, and they’re trying their hand at ducks. They raise the animals kindly, in large pens that don’t crowd them, feed them well, and tend to their needs. When it comes time to slaughter, the folks at Richardson Farms handle it all- from humanely killing the animal to processing the meat in one of the cleanest food handling facilities I’ve ever seen- this cuts out the long drives to some distant processing plant, thus avoiding stress on the animal and lowering the energy footprint it takes to get the job done.
We visited with the turkeys in their mobile pens, hung out in the shade of the chicken egg laying hut, and tickled the chins of young pigs who came to visit at the fence of their pen. I was chased by a curious bumblebee, and at the end of the two hours, we relaxed beneath the shade of an old oak, sipping lemonade and talking about sustainable farming.
Then the owners invited us to pick up some of their wares to take home with us. We had a cooler in the trunk of the car, so we lined up with the rest of the folks from the tour to do our Sunday shopping right then and there.
Now, I know I keep harping about how the weather has finally cooled off so now’s my last chance at the grill before winter sets in. I think that I’m making plans and God’s laughing at me though. The weather has been holding steady in the upper 80’s and low 90’s: perfect grilling weather if I ever saw any. So we gladly purchased a couple of fine New York strips, sausage links, and pork belly, threw everything into the cooler, and drove home. Isn’t it funny how return trips always seem to take less time than the trip out?
We got home, and inspired, I whipped up a little BBQ sauce from catsup, brown sugar, chipotles, citrus and beer, put the steaks in to marinate, and sat on the back porch with a good book. My Sunday just kept getting better and better as the day went on.
Just before throwing the steaks onto the grill, I sliced up some potatoes, layered them in a casserole with goat cheese, cooked carrots, and herbs, poured cream and whipped egg over the whole affair, and baked that in the oven for about an hour until the top of the potatoes turned nice and brown.
Then I grilled the steaks, steamed some fresh peas I’d picked up at the farmers’ market, and once the potato gratin was done through, we returned to the back porch to enjoy our feast. I have to say this: without a doubt, that was the best steak I’d ever had anywhere. We could taste the healthy, happy meat- the absence of fear in the animal. We almost hadn’t needed the BBQ sauce. But there it was, and so here is my Citrus Beer BBQ sauce recipe. If it’s still warm wherever you are, try this out. And buy local, organic foods. It’s good for the environment, good for the animal, and good for you.
Citrus Beer BBQ Sauce
1/4 c chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 c orange juice
Juice from half a lime
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cl garlic, minced
1 c catsup
3 T white vinegar
3 T molasses
3 T brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
¼-1/2 a beer- any kind will do
- Place peppers with their sauce in blender. Cover and blend until smooth.
- Cook onion and garlic in medium saucepan with oil over medium-high heat until tender, about 2–3 minutes. Stir in chipotle mixture, orange and lime juice, catsup, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Add beer, then simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for about 10-20 minutes, until sauce has thickened and tastes right.
Believe it or not, but we actually had leftover steak! Now, since I’ve been waiting for winter cooking opportunities, I chopped the steak up, threw it into a Dutch oven with beans, tomatoes, sliced pork belly, maple syrup, and spices, and let that chili cook for a few hours. I even made up a batch of green chili cornbread to go with it. Now if only the weather would actually cooperate.
Happy cookin’, wherever you are. Stay warm or cool, whichever you need, and I’ll see you in the kitchen next time around, RD
Ruby Dee, from Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers, brings many years various life experiences along for the ride. Ruby grew up traveling back and forth from Northern California foothill ranches to the cotton and oil fields of the Texas panhandle. She enrolled in college at 15, and dropped out to hit the streets as a punk. Later, she spent years fishing in Alaska, driving big rigs, and owning restaurants in Seattle, Washington, until she finally gave all that up to settle down back in Texas, where she is at long last furthering her career as a writer and singer/songwriter. These experiences are reflected in Ruby’s writing style, and in the band’s hopped up high-octane successes on stage and on the road.
Ruby’s latest release, “Live From Austin Texas”, out on Dionysus Records, is currently on the AMA and Texas Third Coast Music charts and has earned the band two Grammy pre-nominations for Best Americana Duo/Group and Best Americana Album. Her cookbook, “Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook”, will be available at the end of November, and includes a CD of music to cook by, including original songs by Marti Brom, Two Hoots and a Holler, Lloyd Tripp, Teri Joyce, Earl Poole Ball, and others (and Ruby, of course!).
For more information on Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook, or to contact the author, go to www.rubysjukejoint.com. Also, of course, all the usual suspect places: Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Rubys-Juke-Joint-Americana-Cookbook/183336818364780 and Twitter at @rubysjukejoint. Catch ya in the kitchen!