Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Dinner | French Potato Salad + BBQ Baby Back Ribs

I don't ever remember reveling in the arrival of Spring with the same level of enthusiasm that I have this year.  After such a long winter, I think my senses are heighten.  Sun! Fresh air! Open windows!  I can't seem to get enough.  It is still chilly (it's not like we have entered short weather. yet.) but I feel confident we have finally left winter behind us. (though I'm not quite ready to take the coats to the dry cleaners for fear I might jinx it.) Sadly, tomorrow it is back to school for the kiddos.  It has been so wonderful sleeping in, having late and decadent  breakfasts and letting my guys play a little past bedtime.  Heck, I'm ready for summer break.  :)

Tonight we grilled out for the first time this year.  I made a favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe for French Potato Salad to go along with our BBQ baby back ribs.  I only make these recipes in the spring and summer, they signal the arrival of outdoor eating.  Recipes that taste and smell of sunny days.

  ^^ This potato salad was the very first Barefoot recipe I ever made, from her first cookbook.  That means I've been making it for almost 16 years!  I remember feeling fancy the first time I bought champagne vinegar. Haha. ^^

^^ I usually make it with a mix of white and red potatoes, but the red didn't look so great at the store.  The key to making this salad just right is not to overcook the potatoes.  They should be just slightly undercooked when you drain them, then place them in a colander and cover with a clean dish towel to finish the cooking with their steam.  Test them with a fork when they are still in the water, there should be a little resistance, if they fall apart or are completely soft they won't hold up well in the salad.  I almost over cooked them today, so I ran them under cold water to stop the cooking when I drained them and skipped the steaming step.^^

Barefoot Contessa French Potato Salad

1 pound small white boiling potatoes
1 pound small red boiling potatoes
2 tablespoons good dry white wine
2 tablespoons chicken stock
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 tablespoons good olive oil
1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves

Drop the white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

My favorite recipe for baby back ribs is super simple but made in two stages.  First with a dry rub cooked in the oven and second with sauce and finished on the grill.  This way you get the tenderness of cooking in the oven with the charred finish and smokey flavor of cooking of the grill.  I prefer a charcoal grill and the flavor it gives food, but it is far more challenging to control the heat than with a gas grill, so this recipe is perfect for us.  We use our favorite local BBQ sauce, but you could use any that you like.

^^ here is how they look after steaming, covered, in the oven for an hour and 15 min. ^^

^^ and then after covering in sauce and placing on a hot grill for a few minutes ^^

^^ This is Andrew's most requested dinner in the summer. ^^

BBQ Baby Back Ribs
(adapted from Jamie Deen)

2 TBS light brown sugar
1 TBS dry mustard
1 TBS paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp kosher salt
2 racks of baby back ribs
Favorite BBQ sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Combine brown sugar through kosher salt in a small bowl to make the dry rub, break up lumps with your fingers.  Remove the silver skin from the underside of the ribs by sliding your fingers under the thin membrane and pulling it off.  Repeat with the second rack.  Rub the ribs on both sides with the dry rub.  Place ribs in a single layer on a large roasting pan and cover tightly with heavy duty foil.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and uncover foil.  Cover generously with your favorite BBQ sauce and place on a medium warm (ours is usually just hot) grill for about 5-8 minutes.  Grilling each side, until nicely charred and perfectly sticky.


  1. This was the first Ina recipe that I ever made too! I made it back for Teddy's first birthday and I totally forgot about it! Thank you for posting! I must make it soon!!! Beautiful pictures as always! xoxo!

  2. I love your first photo of the potatoes in the colander. It looks like it belongs in a cookbook!

  3. Oh my goodness. Looks amazing! Must try soon. Thanks for the deliciousness!

  4. Man, this looks soooo good. I'm getting hungry just viewing it.

  5. I wanted to let you know that I am so glad you posted this BBQ rib recipe. I just prepared it for my family, and I am happy to say it was delicious! I shy away from ribs usually, as I have never made them when they were very good. Until tonight! I followed your recipe and they were great. So, thank you!

  6. I was wondering what rib sauce you used for this?

  7. Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce. I prefer sweet over smokey on my ribs!