Baby Back Ribs

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Baby back ribs are, with close competition from Boston Butt, the kings of barbecue. They are crowd pleasers, a staple of both backyard barbecues and competition pit masters, and absolutely delicious. With the proper preparation and a little patience, they are also deceptively easy.

Before you dive into the recipe below, check out these two videos on how to properly select  rack of baby back ribs and on how to properly prepare them before putting them on the smoker.

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Saint Brian's Baby Back Ribs
Succulent, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs that will please any crowd.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Passive Time 1-8 hours
people per rack
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Passive Time 1-8 hours
people per rack
  1. Using a meat thermometer or table knife, work your tool under the silver skin on the bone side of the rack and remove the membrane. (See link below for the instructional video on how to do this.)
  2. Apply the spice rub to both sides and edges of the rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Smoker/Grill Prep
  1. Start your smoker according to the manufacturer instructions. Preheat to 225-250 degrees F
  2. (If using a gas grill) Set up your grill for indirect heating and preheat to 225 degrees. If your grill has a smoke box, insert wood medium according to manufacturer instructions. If your grill does not have this feature, see the link below for creating your own smoke box.
  1. Using a rib rack, position the ribs vertically with the bone side up in the smoker.
  2. If you have a water/liquid tray in the smoker, make sure to keep it filled with either water, beer, or cider. If you're smoker or grill doesn't have this, every 30-40 minutes spray the ribs with a mixture of water and cider vinegar to keep them from drying out.
  3. Maintain a temperature in the smoker between 225-250 degrees F for about 4 hours. You will know the ribs are done when the meat recedes from the bone about 1/4". Internal temperature will be at least 165 (probably higher, and that's OK). Another test is the "break" test. Pick up the ribs in the middle with a pair of tongs. The ribs should droop and almost break apart under their own weight.
  4. Allow the ribs to rest for 20 minutes, then cut them into 3 rib servings. Serve with Saint Brian's Barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.
Alternative Finish
  1. When you have 30-40 minutes remaining on the ribs, brush on a thin layer of Saint Brian's Barbecue Sauce every 5 minutes. (Note: don't put the sauce on too early, as the sugars will burn.)
Recipe Notes



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Of Dreams and Past Lives

My first trip to the fabled South Street in Philadelphia was on my first or second day at La Salle University. I had heard all of the stories about the freaks and weirdos and criminals that populated the strip between Front and Broad, of the sex shops and tattoo parlours that you couldn’t miss if you were swinging a dead cat.

To my 18 year old eyes, it was everything it was supposed to be, and more. I got my ear pierced at a shop there, the ultimate act of rebellion for me at the time. A few years later, I got my second tattoo on South.

Granted, even in 1996, South Street wasn’t as big a to-do as it was in its heyday. And going down there today, you can definitely see that it has fully transitioned from punk to pop. But it will always carry a special place in my heart, in this city I fell in love with over 20 years ago.

And it is with no small measure of pride that I can announce that Saint Brian’s BBQ sauces will be available at the South Street Whole Foods starting March 30, 2017.

Bongs, Books, and Spreadsheets: NYE 2016

My wife and I aren’t “hit the town” kind of people. Even back in my wilder days, I don’t ever remember being New Year’s Eve as a night where I got “turnt” or “lit”, as the young people say (is that even what they say?).

So as we clean the house, a NYE tradition to get all of the dirt from the previous year out of the house, I’m taking some time to look ahead to 2017 and set some goals for Saint Brian’s.

  1. I’m attempting to make smoke-infused whiskey as an ingredient for a new sauce. Over a conversation with friends at O’Neal’s Pub at 3rd and South, we conceptualized a gravity bong-like device to pull the smoke through. Experiments 1 and 2, conducted yesterday (a reverse gravity bong constructed from an empty Pepsi bottle and small water bottle) and today (constructed from an empty Cherry Coke bottle and powered with a shop-vac), did not prove fruitful. Fear not! I believe I have isolated the problem and will run a new experiment tomorrow morning. Results will be posted.
  2. I’m a spreadsheet junkie. I admit it. The last several jobs I’ve had, Excel has been an indispensible tool. I’m putting together my revenue and expense tracking for 2017. As I’m focusing on the wholesale side of things in 2017, it should be easier to track my P&L, and I want to be organized. So much else in my life feels either chaotic or impulsive (by my own design, to be sure), it’s good to have a few safe harbors of stability and organization.  This is one of them.


3.  I’m reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and loving it. I’m finding inspiration in how he runs his kitchens, and I’m sure that his history of addiction resonates with me.

So Happy New Year’s, everyone. Don’t take any shit from anyone in 2017.

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I’ve got a feeling
This year’s for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

Warrior/28 Week 3

This week has been challenging.

First, entering the 3rd week of any experiment can be a make it or break it time. This is when the true behavioral changes will start taking root, and this is also the period where it’s easiest to fall back into old habits.

Combine that with Sunday having been Christmas…well, while I attempted to make good decisions that day, and didn’t spend the day gorging myself, I definitely blew things up a bit.  But one day of indulgence isn’t worth throwing out the entire experiment. The goal is to modify behavior so that, even when there’s a day like that, it’s easy to get back on the path of good decisions.

Add in that this is my early week at the day job, which throws off my whole morning. To “save time” I would typically grab Starbucks for breakfast, rushing out as soon as I was finished feeding and walking the dogs. (I say that in quotes, as in reality I had to leave earlier to make that side trip, so I really wasn’t saving any time.) I will claim a little victory in that I haven’t made that trip to Starbucks yet.

One other hiccup to the whole plan: I have an injured shoulder.  I’m not sure what I did to it, exactly, and I’m sure it is jiu jitsu related. It’s curtailing my ability to train, so this part of the experiment is a bit compromised. I’m hoping that adequate doses of ibuprofen and heat pads will help this heal quickly.

Anyway, the menu this week: leftovers.

With the holiday, I didn’t have time to get my meals prepared for the week.  Fortunately, we had roasted pork loin Monday night, so that will suffice as my lunch for the week. I’ll need to get a little more creative for dinner, but that’s less of an issue.


28 Day Challenge

Despite doing a pretty intense Brazilian jiu jitsu workout 3 times a week, I’ve been carrying a few extra pounds lately.  I attribute this to stress, getting older (I’m closer to 40 than I’d like to admit to myself), and a daily Starbucks habit.

I was reading about this “Whole30” thing (essentially a revamp of the Paleo diet, which is a revamp of the Atkins diet: no grains, mostly protein and roughage, and no fun), and while I have no intention of eliminating grains from my diet, I was intrigued by the idea of really zeroing in on what I was eating.

My hypothesis is that I’m already leading a relatively healthy lifestyle, and with only minor tweaks to my daily food intake, I can affect a positive change in my weight and health. My starting weight is in the neighborhood of 168 lbs, and I believe that I can get that down to 160 lbs.

I want to be a little scientific about this, so the only thing I’ll be altering is my diet. The goal is to put an plan in place that’s easy to follow, easy to execute (time is ever the enemy to plans), and is based in actual science. For example, I won’t be eliminating grains, as there is no conclusive, peer-reviewed study that shows that grains have a detrimental effect on one’s health.  To that end, should you come across an article that shows scientifically-backed information about nutrition or diet changes, please send it along, as I will gladly ready it.

So here’s my plan: starting Monday, December 12th, I’m going to start following a 28 day food plan, and I’ll share what I’m doing with everyone.  At the beginning of each week, I’ll post the planned meals. Some rules I’m going to set for myself:

  1. No more Starbucks chai lattes in the morning.
  2. No soda (except on my cheat day, if the mood takes me)
  3. Be flexible; life happens, so the plan needs to be able to change
  4. East relatively normal; this isn’t a crash diet, it’s meant to be an experiment to engage longer-term change, so the plan cannot be draconian, else it won’t be sustainable
  5. Incorporate Saint Brian’s products whenever possible (because SHAMELESS PROMOTION)
  6. Post the results, regardless of whether they prove or disprove my hypothesis

I’ll be posting the first week’s plan on Sunday.