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Labor Day Recipes

Yeah, It's Me and I'm Drinkin' Again
Labor Day Recipes

by Ron Williams
August 15, 2001

Labor Day in the South means one thing: Barbeque. It also means NEVER buy any product that happens to be manufactured the day after Labor Day...

The first week in September, it's still hotter than a nun on Easter in these parts. You follow sage advice, such as Satchel Paige: "Avoid running at all times", and Jerry Lee Lewis: "Just stand there and shake a little bit..." Sweat doesn't evaporate when the temperature and the humidity are both at 98.

Now there's a whole lot that's been written about barbeque. Too much for this column.... there's more different styles of barbeque in the South than denominations of the Baptist Church (you got yer Southern Baptist, yer Foot Washin' Baptist, yer Free Will Baptist, etc...) - A Joke: Do you why know Baptists don't have sex standing up?
Because people will think they're dancing...

But RIBS are the traditional Labor Day eatin's, and here's some tips:

- Ribs are PORK; beef ribs are ok for soup...
- Use the BIGGEST baby back ribs, OR the SMALLEST spareribs. I use spareribs weighing no more than 3 _ lbs a slab.
- Trim spareribs "St. Louis" style. With a heavy, sharp cleaver, cut off the rib - tips - at the joint from the 'main' rib. You can feel this junction, usually about an inch or more from the top of the ribs.
- HERE'S A SECRET!!! With a pair of pliers (and a screwdriver to get it started), peel off the membrane on the backside of the ribs. Once you get the membrane separated from the meat, then (using the pliers) peel off the entire membrane.
- I like to put a "dry rub", such as "Luscious the King's" (contact me for a source) on the ribs and let them sit overnight.
- Smoke them puppies over indirect heat, using oak or hickory - no charcoal! - at around 180 degrees for 4 to 6 hours. You have to use a smoker, not a grill.
- Now, I like to put a sauce - tomato based with some sweetness - on the ribs and wrap them in aluminum foil for the last hour, or, until you want to eat them.

But you get thirsty while doing all this...and you need some liquid refreshment. Homemade ice tea and lemonade are great. I'll give some recipes in a later column. Suffice to say, most Southerners prefer their ice tea sweet enough that it makes your teeth ache.

But this is a HOLIDAY.Let's talk adult beverages. Nowadays, beer has become a lot harder to recommend with all the microbreweries and such. And, truly, our Yankee brethren do tend to make better beers than we in the South. Some of our traditional choices are just pretty bad: Falls City, Ortels 92. Sterling... I like Shiner all right. Lone Star, Pearl, Dixie...well, they're not world class beers, but they still get you drunk (unless you live in 3.2 Oklahoma...)

Since marijuana has become a major cash crop, it's become VERY difficult to find good moonshine. The real stuff comes at 140 proof and is deceptively smooth; it'll slap yo' ass in the creek, and it's more dangerous than the pot that's taken it's place.

So here's my opinions on the Hard Stuff, and the True Vine Southern Cocktail. (Mint Juleps are for folks that never tasted one - a Southern myth!)

Up until Prohibition, America's whiskey was Rye Whiskey. About the only one that you can find is Old Overholt, which ain't bad. However, the 13 year old Old Rip Van Wrinkle Straight Rye is truly wonderful and worth searching for.

As is Old Rip Van Wrinkle Bourbon. Their 20 year old has been proclaimed the best bourbon ever made. It runs around $80.00 a fifth. Their 23 year old goes for $150.00 but doesn't rank as well. I can say that their 12 - year - old bourbon is just fine! I can't afford to acquire a taste for much better than that! Remarkably, Old Crow, is a very good bourbon, tasting better than some of those new 'boutique' labels! $7.50 a fifth, too! For Tennessee Whiskey, I prefer George Dickel to Jack Daniels.

From our Latino heritage comes tequila - and the recent comeback of rum. Cruzan makes a Coconut Rum that is wonderful. You can just pour it over ice, sip, pour another, sip, and pour another....

The best cocktail ever is the Sazerac. Invented in New Orleans in the mid 1800's, it's probably the first cocktail, and its ingredients are difficult to find. It's an old - time drink - all alcohol. It's for sipping; and it makes a Martini seem wimpy! The ingredients cannot be substituted, so it may be awhile before you can gather the goods to make you one. Don't try to order this at your local bar (unless you live in New Orleans.)

The Sazerac

Either chill, or fill with ice, an old fashion glass or Martini glass.
Just before shaking the cocktail, pour out the ice. Pour a _ oz of Herbsaint or Pernod in the glass, twirl it, and pour all but a trace of the liquor out.
In a shaker with crushed ice, pour 2 oz RYE Whiskey, 1 tsp simple syrup, and 4 shakes of PEYCHAUD BITTERS (no substitute - not Angostura). Shake for 20 seconds. Strain and pour into the awaiting glass.
Twist a lemon peel over the cocktail and place it in the glass.
Sip until you gain true enlightenment.

(Peychaud bitters can be ordered - at double their retail price - from the manufacturer: www.sazerac.com) Peychaud bitters are a great after dinner tonic: I drink about a Tablespoon after stressful meals!

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