There is a cabin in Cumberland, WI that is cursed. Evil spirits are lurking in the oven, and in the electrical box, and in the vintage Weber gas grill. Last summer, the spirits decided I was doomed to cook dinner with no power, in the dark with a flashlight, having to cook everything on the grill. This summer, they wanted to play with fire, and play with fire they did.
The theme for this year's summer cabin weekend was "Lets burn everything!!". Stefanie burned the pizza bread, Heather burned the bacon, and I burned the crap out of $150.00 worth of spare ribs. I have made these before, on the same grill, under the same conditions, but this year just wasn't my year. I think this grill hasn't really been cleaned thoroughly since about 1972, and there were uncontrollable grease fires, which then led to very unstable temperatures. I thought after the first two rounds of: fire-take the ribs off the grill-tame the fire-put the ribs back on the grill-try to get the grill hot again, that we were golden. Oh boy was I wrong. I put the ribs into stage two: wrapped with tin foil with liquids for steaming and went and played a very competitive game of bocce ball. When I came back about 45 minutes later, they were burnt to a crisp, stuck to the tin foil.
It was awful. This is something I am usually good at, and not only did I screw it up, they looked inedible. After a few tears, a LOT of swearing, and a large glass of wine to calm me down, I told someone to grab me two sheet pans and 8 forks. My team got to work, pulling the burnt bits off, and shredding the rest of the meat that was salvageable. I tossed all the meat with the vat of glaze that was supposed to go on during phase three, and put them back on the grill to bake for about an hour. The rest of the cooking went off without a hitch, smashed potatoes and cheesy corn rounded out the meal.
The verdict? It tasted exactly the same as last year, but now you could eat it with a fork, which I personally think is much less fun than tearing it off the bone with your teeth. It did however, make for a less messy and more civilized meal, but all I cared about was saving dinner. I mean, there isn't exactly a large selection of take-out places in Cumberland, WI. Most of all, I was happy to be with my best friends in the world, enjoying and laughing about yet another meal that almost didn't happen.
The best part of the shredded rib meat? Making sandwiches the next day. The ribs have a lot of Asian flavors in the glaze and the rub, so I made a big 'ol batch of this spicy cilantro coleslaw. Put the two together and you have some of the best sandwiches ever. Make this coleslaw regardless though, it is seriously amazing.
Spicy Asian Coleslaw
adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
**This makes an absolute ridiculous amount of slaw, so I mix all the veggies, onions, and cilantro and freeze half of it for a later date.
Also, I use my food processor to shred all the vegetables. You can core and cut the cabbage into 2-inch slices then put though the slicer blade. I then use the slicer blade for the peas, and the grater blade for the carrots. If you don't have a food processor, you can just chop and grate everything by hand, it will just take longer.**
1 head green cabbage, shredded
4-5 medium carrots, shredded
1 bag sugar snap peas, sliced thinly
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts sliced thinly
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 cup peanuts, chopped
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
4 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha (a spicy red chili paste that you should have in your fridge at all times, trust me)
1/2 cup canola or peanut oil
Combine all shredded vegetables with the green onions and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small mixing bowl combine the vinegar, honey, mustard, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, and peanut oil, and whisk to emulsify.
If you are making this for a large group, you can dress the cabbage mixture and toss with the peanuts right before serving. If you are making this for yourself and plan on eating it for lunch all week like I do, you can store the cabbage mixture in one container, the dressing separately, and the peanuts in a ziploc bag. I only combine what I am going to be eating immediately before consumption. This allows you to store your slaw for much, much longer than if you mix it all together, as cabbage can get soggy quickly.
You can eat a big bowl of this on its own, add some grilled chicken, or top your shredded rib meat on a french roll with it like I did. This winter, if you ever have leftover braised beef, this would be a great way to liven up your leftovers.
When something goes very wrong in the kitchen, keep calm (I myself don't usually take that advice, I admit) and get creative. Know that it will still probably be delicious, and if not, well you have a funny story to tell later. If anyone has any kitchen disasters that turned into a triumph, please let me know in the comments!