Guest Blog: Norcalwingman, Brian Wing.

Not Bad for a Memorial Day Barbecue.

Nothing says Memorial Day like warm weather, cold beer, and Barbecue.

Aerial view of Brian Wing

So I figure why not postpone a “Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner” until a Memorial Day weekend QueFest?

I love grilling up pretty much any ol’ thing but the pies’ du’ resistance is baby back ribs.  I figured why not grill up a few batches of Baby Backs.  I thought Baby Backs 3-Ways would be an outstanding way to celebrate the unofficial day of summer, as well as a nod to our troops, without whom we would be most likely unable to celebrate anything… Cheers to all of you volunteers who keep us safe and free!

Okay, back to the grub.  I did some recipe searching over the past few days trying to track down some ideas for great ways of doing up the ribs.  I found two worth trying, and of course, my own recipe.  Additionally I found a tasty sounding recipe from a cookbook my wife brought back from her mother-ship (Brown-Foreman) and Woodford Reserve.  Yeah, the good bourbon.

Here we go.  First up some prep work.  I wanted to side my ribs with a cold side and I thought potato salad.  I didn’t want the standard issue stuff, so I tried to track down a recipe I remember having that was baby reds with some dill.  I didn’t find exactly what I was hoping for but found a great alternative.

2 lb baby red creamer potatoes

Potato ala Wing

1 lg rib celery, thinly sliced (about 1/2 c)
1 c mashed hass avocado (about 2 avocados) (MUFA)
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
2 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 c)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp salt

Wash the potatoes, then cut in half.  Place in large pot of salted water and boil until tender.  Drain and rinse with cool water, put it in the fridge to cool for at least an hour.

This dish you need to finish last so wait until you’re done cooking everything for this last step.  In a bowl take avocado and lemon juice and blend with a hand blender until smooth, add sour cream and blend further.  Mix celery and scallion into bowl with potato and then stir in avocado/sour cream sauce.  Lastly take chopped up fresh dill and mix in, garnish with whole dill sprig.

Make your own BBQ Sauce.  I’ve never made my own sauce before because Baby Ray does such an outstanding job, I don’t usually worry about trying to make anything, for fear of failure.  However, while perusing the cookbook from Woodford Reserve I found an intriguing sounding sauce that I thought would dress up some ribs just dandy.  Here’s the list of ingredients:

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup peanut oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup whole grain mustard

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh gingerroot

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

1/4 cup Woodford Reserve bourbon

Here is what the book says to do:

Brian Wings Woodford!

Combine the ketchup, vinegar, peanut oil, lemon juice, honey and soy sauce in asaucepan and mix well. Stir in the brown sugar, whole grain mustard, onion, garlic,gingerroot, rosemary, red pepper flakes and liquid smoke.  Simmer for 10 minutes,stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon. You may thin thesauce with water to use as a marinade for grilled meats if desired.

(Yeah, that’s right, it’s Brian’s Bourbon, says so right on the bottle!)

Here’s a modification, keep the sauce simmering on low heat.  The onions and ginger were too crunchy and the rosemary hadn’t infused into the sauce.  So I actually let this simmer the entire time the ribs cooked.

Rib Recipe #1 Smoked Ribs, Paula Dean’s Recipe from

3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup lemon juice
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 to 4 dashes hot red pepper sauce
1 small onion, minced
3 to 4 dashes salt
Seasoned pepper, to taste
2 to 3 cups water

Cook up this sauce prior to starting your ribs.  I also cooked this longer than the recipe calls for.  I cooked this until the onions became translucent.  Easy sauce, put all ingredients in the saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until onions are tender and sweet.

So the ribs… The biggest differentiator is the rub, each of these ribs has its own “special” rub from simple to less simple.  Here they are:

  1. Smoked Ribs:  The rub is a simple, what they call “house seasoning.”  This is 2 parts salt to 1 part black pepper and 1 part garlic powder.
  2. Texas Style Ribs:
    2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground oregano

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons celery salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. My own rub:

A proprietary blend of (and by proprietary I mean I don’t recall what exactly goes in in what proportions):

Garlic Powder
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Smoked Paprika
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder
Brown Sugar
Kosher Salt

For each rack of ribs, pat dry prior to application of rub.  Season each rack generously and rub into the meat.  Place back into the fridge for at least an hour so spices have a chance to “soak in.”

I did up my ribs via two different cooking methods.

Serious Grilling

I did one rack in the smoker and the other two on the Weber.  I have found that lump, hardwood charcoal is really the best way to go for smoking.  The charcoal burns longer and hotter.  I also used large chunk mesquite hardwood for my smoke source.  Fire up your charcoal in a starter chimney and put it into the smoker.

I placed a couple chunks of raw mesquite in the coal bowl and then dumped my hot coals on top, smoke is almost instantaneous.  Monitor the temperature closely; it should be around 250 F.  Add charcoal as needed.   This recipe also called for basting with the sauce from time to time to keep ribs moist.

The other two racks I cooked on my Weber.

Looking good!

After I finished getting my smoker going I fired up another starter chimney of hardwood charcoal and once ready placed to one side of the Weber for indirect cooking.  Place ribs on opposite side of coals and cover.  I did not add any raw wood as I did not want to smoke these any further than the charcoal would do.

I cooked each of these for a minimum of 3 Hours.  I think the ribs on the Weber may have been overdone, so I would recommend monitoring the temperature more closely, closing the bottom air vent just to keep the temp a skosh lower.

Our friends Jen and Zippy

Oysters 3 Ways

brought over some oysters and we did oysters three ways too!  We did Pesto, Lemon &Tabasco, and some Cherry compote that were awesome!

To round out this meal we did some baked beans and I paired dinner with a 2008 Sonoma County Seghesio Zinfandel.

Come an get it!

As always I really enjoy cooking, especially on the barbecue.  It’s fun to share great times with kids and friends.  We just have to keep in mind why we are able to celebrate, please keep our troops in your hearts and minds, not only during this time of remembrance but every time you have an outstanding moment.  It was brought to you by the blood, sweat, and tears of those brave men and women who volunteer to protect this great nation we call home.

Cheers to all, on this great Memorial Day Weekend.


Visit Brian Wing’s website HERE

Potato Salad:
Texas Style Ribs:
Smoked Ribs:


  1. Tim, Thanks for the opportunity to post on Weekly Wine Journal! I’m always happy to spread the word about good food and wine.


  2. It was a great dinner! I even tried an oyster and didn’t think it was too gross. It looks like your bottle of Woodford might be getting a little low. I’ll have to pick some up in July when I’m there again.


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