Fourth of July Barbecue

This day really belongs to Mr. Sloan, or perhaps Mr. Sloan and our Patriot Ancestors. For today, in addition to celebrating our Independence from Great Britain, and those who fought to give us that freedom, Today is Barbecue day. Not just grilling, mind you, this is serious stuff, as serious as it gets, short of digging a pit. The smoking method Mr. Sloan uses is a wet method, meaning that there is a pan of water, and other wet liquids, in which are floating wood chips of choice. This is heated by the charcoals and wafts up and around the item being smoked, infusing it with flavor and moisture. Of course, with wet smoking, like a wet county, liquor is involved.

For Mr. Sloan, a good bottle of Bourbon is essential to good smoking. That and a good dry rub for the meat being smoked. For Ribs and Brisket, we use a recipe based on the Kansas City Sweet and Smoky Rub from his book, Barbecue! Bible: Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes. We do have a couple of substitutions, we use Onion Powder instead of Onion Salt and Kosher Salt instead of Smoked Salt. Why? Well, functionally I never let what I have or don’t have get in the way of a good recipe. Smoked salt would certainly add some smoke to the flavor, but Hey! these ribs are going to be smoked after all, not just grilled, so it was deemed not worth the effort. And onion salt instead of onion powder? How much salt do I need to throw at these things? Onion powder will do.

We use St. Louis Style ribs, mostly for the ease of serving and eating.

St. Louis Style Ribs

St. Louis Style Ribs

Now ribs and brisket are great, but man does not live by meat alone. What could be more classic an accompaniment than Cole Slaw? We are not big fans of the over sweet concoction which our mothers always served. We brought a particular concoction from Craig Claiborne’s book Cooking with Herbs and Spices. Judging by the fact that this particular Cole Slaw recipe was requested by my mother at subsequent summer family gatherings, she had become a fan, too.

To finish, a Peach and Blueberry Cobbler was served. We didn’t get time to make the ice cream, but Chocolate Mousse Ice Cream is a favorite of mine and has made appearances on the fourth before.

Kansas City Sweet and Smoky Rub

2/3 c tightly packed light brown sugar
2/3 c granulated sugar
1/2 c paprika
1/4 c seasoned salt
1/4 c smoked salt or kosher salt
1/4 c onion salt or onion powder
1/4 c celery salt
2 T freshly ground pepper, I suspect that Mr. Sloan used Coarsely ground pepper
2 T Chili powder, again we usually have a blend on hand, use an unblended if you have it, Chipotle works very well
2 t mustard powder
1 t poultry seasoning
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground allspice
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, I usually prefer whisking to mix them together.

Rub into the ribs or meat preferably with some time to serve as a dry marinade.

While the meat is marinating in the dry rub, prepare the smoker. Mr. Sloan is on his second smoker, the first was a Cajun, now he uses a Brinkmann. It is widely available at many hardware stores. To the smoking water, Mr. Sloan adds about 2 cups of bourbon. As this part is one of the mysteries of life with which I am relatively unacquainted. So I will leave the details to him:

I always use a high quality charcoal and lighter fluid. I wait for the charcoal to be mostly ash covered before I start the meat to smoke. While the charcoal burns to grey, I have the wood in a bucket of water. What a waste to just burn the wood without getting it’s smoke. I use either hickory or mesquite in large pieces. Never use pine as it leaves a resin on the meat.

Preparing the coals

Preparing the Coals

The smoker is a wet smoker which keeps the meat moist. After placing the meats on the grills and closing the lid, the best is to leave the smoker to do its work. A nice brisket (4-5 lbs) takes about 4 hours to cook to medium. The same amount of time for 4-5 lbs of ribs. I suggest having your butcher trim the ribs to make it easier to cut into single rib servings.
Ribs and Brisket

Ribs and Brisket Done to perfection

While the ribs are smoking, there is plenty of time to prepare the Cole Slaw and the Peach Cobbler

Cole Slaw with Caraway Mayonnaise

Cole Slaw with Caraway Mayonnaise

Cole Slaw with Caraway Mayonnaise

4 c shredded cabbage
1/2 c mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice the recipe allows vinegar but I have only used lemon juice
1 T grated onion this time, all I had on hand was a shallot, so in it went
1 t caraway seeds
1 t sugar (I have used as much as a Tablespoon before, okay so a little sweet is good)
1/2 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper

Combine all but cabbage in a small to medium bowl to make dressing.
Mix the dressing into the cabbage and toss well to combine.

Lastly, while the ribs were smoking and Mr. Sloan and I were shopping for new cushions for the patio chairs, our daughters put together the Peach and Blueberry Cobbler from the Food Network, below.

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

1/4 cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
5 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into thick slices
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
4 tablespoons melted
Butter to grease dish

For biscuit dough:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1/3 cup light cream
2 tablespoons each of melted butter and sugar
Whipped cream or ice cream, optional


For the filling mix sugar with cornstarch and toss that with peaches and blueberries. Transfer them to the bottom of a lightly buttered shallow baking dish (9 or 10-inch round pyrex pie plate or 8-inch square one) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. For the dough, in a food processor combine the flour, baking powder and salt; cut in chilled butter and process with cream to make a
dough. Roll out to about 1/2-inch thick into a shape to fit your baking pan. Or cut into biscuits and set biscuits, touching each other over fruit. Drizzle biscuits with melted butter and sugar and bake for 40 minutes or until biscuits are golden and fruit underneath bubbling. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with cream or ice cream.

The table

The table, set and ready

That’s it! Dinner all ready and enjoyed with the cool beverage of your choice. Make mine a Charleston Cocktail with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, distilled in the Charleston area.
Happy Fourth of July! Thanks to John Mangum, The Patriot! And THANKS! THANKS! THANKS! to all our veterans for their service.


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