That’s The Rub

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Pursuer of happiness. Bon vivant. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. There's a Twitter account at @burtlikko, but not used for posting on the general feed anymore. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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13 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    “You’re probably asking, Burt, this is barbeque ribs, so where’s the onion?”

    But… but… there’s no smoking going on. As such, these are NOT barbecue ribs. I’m sorry, good friend Likko, but this is not barbecue. It cannot be barbecue without a smoke element. Five minutes with a damp log does not qualify. And smoke is not only important, it is an essential element to barbecue.

    These ribs may be delicious. They sure sound it. But they ain’t barbecue. Don’t make me sic Dwyer on your ass!Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

      I would probably agree that this is not ‘barbecue’ in the classic sense but the term has gotten so loose that I think there is wiggle room. He’s cooking the ribs incredibly slow, which is a barbecue technique, and smoke is not necessarily a key component of barbecue. Barbacoa, for example, is not really cooked via smoke. It’s really braised, yet it is considered ‘barbecue’.

      With that said it’s a pretty intriguing process, if you can afford the sous vide. We do a poor-man’s version with country-style ribs. They get boiled for about an hour so they are about 90% cooked and tender, then they go on the grill at a medium temperature to be finished. But we refer to them as ‘grilled’ ribs, not barbecue. The terms are pretty interchangeable around here.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        On Fridays in Fall and Spring, the kitchen at school hosts a “barbecue”. Only, by “barbecue”, they mean “hot dogs and hamburgers”. That is not a barbecue. That is a cookout. A cookout can be a wonderful thing. But it’s not barbecue. And while I recognize that the term is used colloquially to me something else nowadays, it still chafes me. Our music teacher (who hails from Tennessee) and I have to roll our eyes at each other each time a “barbecue” is announced.

        And, for the record, any criticism of Mr. Likko and his approach here should be recognized as all in good fun. Regardless of what we call it, good food is good food and this sounds like good eatin’.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Oh they were, @kazzy , they were. If you’re ever out in Southern California, you and the Mrs. should make it a point to come by and have some, and then you can tell me all about how they aren’t really barbecue while you eat an entire rack.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        @mike-dwyer if you shop around, you can get a sous vide unit just like mine for under $300. That’s about the same amount of money as you’d spend on a good set of knives, by way of comparison with other kitchen toys.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


        My problem with the sous vide is that it also means you need to buy vacuum bags and a sealer and then give up all that precious counter space. While I am 100% convinced they are a fantastic cooking tool, I just don’t know if I would use it enough to justify all those other things.

        My next big cooking purchase is that I desperately need a meat grinder. Honestly, no self-respecting hunter and cook should be without one and if I didn’t have generous friends I should have had to purchase one years ago. I have my eye on a $150 model. I’ll have to pull the trigger soon as deer season is fast approaching.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


        Zazzy’s parents live in Thousand Oaks in Ventura County. How far are you from there? We may be out there in the next year or so. Would love to take you up on the offer.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Casa Likko is less than a 90 minute drive from Thousand Oaks, @kazzy . The offer’s open!Report

    • Wyrmnax in reply to Kazzy says:

      I would be willing to test them to see if they are barbecue or not…Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

      As someone who has had the privilege of eating ribs at the Che Likko, I might step in and say that

      A). Contra Mike Dwyer, the ribs are indeed not technically BBQ — at least not to my puritan heart’s definition of that word,


      B). They are nonetheless as good as the best BBQ ribs I have ever had, and I’ve had some remarkable ribs in my time.

      Burt’s ribs truly are amazing.Report

  2. James Hanley says:

    Do you char both sides for 5 minutes each, both sides for 2 1/2 minutes each, or just one side?Report

    • Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

      Based upon his description, I’d guess 2.5 would be plenty on either side.Report

    • 2 1/2 minutes on the show side, 2 1/2 minutes on the bone side. About. Pretty much long enough on the one side to have a sip of beer and tell a joke, and the same for the other side.

      What I’m really going for is something called the Maillard reaction, commonly referred to as “char” or “burn marks.” When the meat blackens under intense heat, it brings some of the sugars out of the protein, and this adds extra flavor. It’s why you like meat cooked over fire. In the winter, if I’m cooking a dish with a smaller serving size of meat, I will sometimes use a handheld butane blowtorch and never go outside. This is the same sort of blowtorch that you would use to caramelize the top of a crème brûlée. Obviously, such a thing is impractical for charring three racks of ribs.Report