Memorial Day is one of those mixed-up American holidays that began as something solemn and metamorphosized into a celebration. While it honors the American men and women who gave their lives in the U.S. military, it has also become the de facto kickoff to summer and grilling season. Originally known as Decoration Day, after the practice of decorating fallen soldiers’ graves with flags and flowers, it was created following the Civil War, but didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971. Before that, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation in 1966 that “recognized the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day began in Waterloo, New York.” This small Finger Lakes town is now home to the National Memorial Day Museum, but that hasn’t dissuaded over 20 cities and towns across the nation from claiming to have originated Memorial Day. In fact, this raging debate has become a holiday tradition.
On Monday, a national moment of remembrance will take place at 3 pm local time. So, before you fire up the grill this Memorial Day, take a moment to remember and give thanks for our nation’s fallen heroes. Their sacrifices made our day of hanging out with friends and family around the grill possible, after all.
Grilled Baby Back Ribs
These ribs are truly to die for… a perfect combination of sticky, sweet, slightly spicy and falling off the bone. We start off by marinating the ribs in a fragrant rub in the fridge, then slow cooking them in the oven for a couple of hours, followed by 30 minutes of basting on a hot grill.
2 racks baby back ribs
4 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cups ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
4 tbsp soy sauce
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ cup water
Stir together ingredients for rub until evenly combined.
Line a baking pan with foil and put the ribs on the foil. Rub ribs well with rub mixture on both sides. Cover and wrap tightly with foil and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Roast ribs in middle of oven for 2 hours. Reserve pan juices for grilling.
While the ribs are in the oven, make the barbecue sauce. Heat oil in medium sized saucepan and cook onion, garlic and ginger until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and transfer sauce to a blender jar and puree until smooth.
Transfer the ribs to a grill over moderate heat (around 350 degrees). Brush ribs generously with pan juices and sauce, cover with lid. Turn ribs over every ten minutes or so for 30 minutes total. Carefully transfer ribs to cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve ribs with sauce on the side.
*If you don’t have access to a grill, you can finish the ribs in the oven. Remove top sheet of foil and brush ribs with BBQ sauce and pan juices. Turn on the broiler and broil ribs for around 5 minutes on each side.
30 minute pickles
This recipe is quick and easy and the perfect zingy accompaniment to the ribs.
2 english cucumbers
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
¼ cup rice vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Slice cucumbers about ⅛ inch thick. Toss with the sugar and the salt and let drain in a colander for 20 minutes. Transfer cucumbers to a bowl and toss with the vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chill and serve.
Potato salad with ramp dressing
2 lbs small red or yellow potatoes
¼ lb of ramps (about 5-6 stalks), bulbs trimmed, roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Boil potatoes until tender, around 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and run under cool water. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, add ramps, olive oil, mayo, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Process or blend until combined. Toss dressing with the potatoes and parsley. Adjust for salt & pepper. Serve warm or chilled.