185/365: National Barbecued Spareribs Day

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear America…happy birthday to you. Not only is it Independence Day, but the 4th of July is also National Barbecued Spareribs Day! Which is pretty fitting, when you think about it. After all, this holiday was custom made for barbecuing.

There are four types of rib cuts: baby back, St. Louis, rib tips, and spareribs. Spareribs are a combination of St. Louis and rib tips. They are flatter than baby backs, which are usually curved, but are often preferred due to their generous amounts of connective tissue and fat, which makes them flavorful. They also happen to be the least expensive cut of ribs, making them wallet-friendly. They are cut from the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder, of a pig or cow. I’ve always preferred baby backs, while growing up, on the rare occasions that my mom would make ribs – my dad inexplicably does not care for them – she’d cook spareribs. No matter the type of rib, though – it’s gotta be pork in my book. When it comes to barbecuing spareribs, you can opt for either a dry rub or a sauce. Or go crazy, and do both!

To celebrate, we fired up the grill and barbecued spareribs using an applewood rub that we have recently discovered and fallen in love with. They were tender, meaty, and delicious!

National Barbecued Spareribs Day

Categories: Pork | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

114/365: National Pigs In A Blanket Day

Grab your napkins and sPORKS and go hog wild over today’s food holiday. April 24 is National Pigs In A Blanket Day!

Even though the first recipe for pigs in a blanket as we know it was published in Betty Crocker’s Cooking For Kids in 1957, different versions of this meal existed long before then. As far back as the 1600s, field laborers in England were putting meat inside of dough for a quick, nourishing, and portable meal. Pigs in a blanket is basically pork wrapped inside something else, though the type of pork (and the blanket itself) has varied greatly over the years. A popular version in the 1800s consisted of oysters that were rolled in a slice of bacon, pinned together with a toothpick, grilled, broiled or fried, and served hot on toast. But in this case, the pig is the blanket, he’s not IN the blanket. That’s just not right! Nowadays, the dish most often refers to hot dogs, Vienna sausages, or breakfast sausages wrapped in crescent dough or a pancake and baked, unless you’re in Europe, where cabbage rolls are often called pigs in a blanket. Technically speaking, that makes perfect sense. They became a popular party food in the 1960s, and for a while in the 70s Pillsbury sold a canned version that was ready to bake. Apparently, they thought the American consumer was wasting too much time and effort actually rolling a hot dog inside dough. It IS an awfully labor-intensive task – amazing that the canned version never really caught on. /sarcasm.

Pigs in a blanket are also called devils on horseback, kilted sausages, and wiener winks.

Yes, really.

We decided to stick with the tried-and-true and make pigs in a blanket with crescent dough and hot dogs. We even added a slice of American cheese to some of them. For such a simple and lowbrow meal, I have to say, they were pretty damn tasty!

Pigs In A Blanket

Categories: Pastry, Pork | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

105/365: National Glazed Spiral Ham Day

April 15th shouldn’t be an overly taxing day, not when you’ve got the perfect excuse to pig out. It’s National Glazed Spiral Ham Day! Or, another in our list of very specific and odd food holidays.

Ham is a cut of meat that comes from the thigh of the pig. Pork was traditionally cured in the fall and would be ready to eat in the springtime. Ham is closely associated with Easter because it is considered a symbol of luck, and since Easter often lands in April, the middle of the month is an ideal time to celebrate this tasty porcine product. In 1937, a Detroit resident named Harry J. Hoenselaar, working in his basement, invented a special way of cooking, slicing, and glazing ham. He patented his spiral slicing machine and tried to market it to various companies, but nobody went for the idea whole hog. Undaunted, Harry decided to open his own ham store, and formed the HoneyBaked Ham company in 1957. The machine is attached to a ham on the top and bottom and a rotating base is gradually lowered as a blade is applied to the meat, resulting in perfectly uniform spiral slices of ham cut through to the bone. HoneyBaked ham became a sensation, winning over legions of fans who love their signature tender and juicy ham with a crunchy honey glaze.

I too am a big fan of HoneyBaked ham, and immediately thought of them when this holiday rolled around. So Tara and I drove out to Clackamas Town Center on Saturday to stop by the HoneyBaked Ham store in the mall. As delicious as HoneyBaked ham is, it’s also expensive; the smallest “mini” ham still cost $32, and would have been a lot of pig for the two of us to tackle. Fortunately, they sell their glazed spiral ham already sliced by the pound, so we picked up a package of that. HoneyBaked ham is so good, it seemed a waste to just slap it between two slices of bread and call it good, so we made ham and eggs for breakfast instead. Delicious!

HoneyBaked Ham

Categories: Pork | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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