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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Grilling For Labor Day: BBQ Ribs And Grilled Chicken

Labor Day weekend means grilling! We have two meat dishes today, grilled Caribbean chicken and barbecue spare ribs, and our side dish is crispy eggplant fries.


[photo 3]

Before we fire up the grill today, the folks at Harvest Public Media are back this week with part four of their series about local food. Today, they’re talking about price.

Paying More Or Paying Less?

Would you pay more for local food, or would you expect to pay less?

Research by Rich Pirog in 2009 did find that overall it was cheaper to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables.

But Pirog, who was with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in Ames, says that’s not the whole picture when looking at the expense of local food. “One would have to look at the entire market basket,” he says.

And that’s a tricky assessment.

“We did make an attempt to look at lean ground beef, pork (and) eggs that were sold in local butcher shops, natural foods shops, etc., and it was very difficult to make the comparison from a research basis,” Pirog adds. “Attributes are never exactly the same.”

More: Read more about the price of local food and all sorts of issues surrounding food, fuel and the field at Harvest Public Media.

BBQ Spare Ribs

Every great BBQ dish starts with a great marinade. (Well, it actually begins with some quality local meat — our spare ribs are from Kiss My Grass Farm in Morgantown, Indiana.)

To start, Chef Daniel Orr is mixing his Columbus Cowboy Espresso Chili Rub with the spare ribs in a plastic bag and shaking it until the ribs are coated. (If you don’t have this specific rub, add some ground espresso to your favorite chili rub. The coffee will give the meat a smoky, roasted flavor.) To that, he adds some of his Big Belly BBQ Sauce and then puts the plastic bag o’ ribs in the fridge overnight. Good flavor takes time!

The next day, the ribs are steamed for 90 minutes before they are grilled. Once the skin is caramelized and crispy from the grill, the ribs are ready to eat.

The garnishes provide a unique touch for this dish. The toasted coconut adds sweet crunchiness to the pork, and the star fruit (or carambola) and orange slice not only add color, but according to Chef Orr, “I like some citrus with my BBQ because you can get the grease off your fingers and it’s a good palate cleanser.”

[photo 2]

BBQ Spare Ribs


  • 3-4 portions spare ribs
  • 1/2 cup Columbus Cowboy Spice Rub (or your favorite chili rub with added ground espresso)
  • 1 cup Big Belly BBQ Sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)

Cooking Directions

  1. In a plastic bag, mix ribs with Columbus Cowboy Spice Rub. Then add Big Belly BBQ Sauce and mix.
  2. Store the marinated ribs in the refrigerator over night.
  3. On the next day, steam the ribs in bamboo steamer for 90 minutes. Meat will pull away from the bones.
  4. Put ribs on the grill, under a broiler or in a hot grill pan to caramelize them and make the outside crispy.
  5. Serve drizzled with the marinade and garnished with star fruit, cilantro, avocado and toasted coconut.

Eggplant Fries

Eggplants are all over the farmers market these days. There are a number of different varieties of this beautiful fruit: Black Beauties, Ping Tung Asians, Fairytales, Graffitis and even White Eggplants.

Some folks might not like the bitterness of eggplants, but you can solve that by salting them and letting them sit. The moisture (and the bitterness) will be pulled out. Then rinse them off, pat them dry and you’re good to go.

Chef Orr also advises that you should cook eggplant until it’s soft. “When you touch it, it should be a bit mushy. It shouldn’t be firm at all. If it is firm, it’s undercooked and that’s where your bitterness will come.”

Eggplant Fries


  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch x 4 inch slices
  • salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sorghum/sweet rice flour (combine the two)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash smoked paprika
  • dash Italian seasoning
  • dash garlic powder
  • dash black pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. Peel and slice the eggplant. Then, set it in a colander in the sink. There will be little seeds inside, but you don’t need to worry about them.
  2. Sprinkle the slices with salt, and toss around, and then leave for 30 minutes to sweat. “Sweating” is important when preparing eggplant. The salt helps to extract the water.
  3. After 30 minutes, rinse the eggplant sticks off with water, and then spread on a paper-towel covered plate. Pat them dry with paper towels.
  4. In one bowl, beat the egg into the milk. In another bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, and seasonings.
  5. Heat oil in a shallow pan on high heat.
  6. Dredge the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, then in the flour mixture.
  7. Carefully fry the eggplant slices for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy. Serve hot.

More: If you’ve got eggplant on the brain like we do, check out plenty of other eggplant recipes here and here.

Grilled Chicken With Chilies, Garlic & Lime

In the Caribbean, they start every chicken dish with a healthy squirt of lime juice. “I think it started off as a way of preserving the chicken with the acid in the lime,” says Chef Orr, who spent a few years working in Anguilla, “but now it just tastes like the Caribbean.”

After you take the chicken off the grill, the Caribbeans aren’t done with it. Keep an extra half lime for when the chicken is done cooking to squirt on the finished bird. Also add some sea salt for a saline crunch.

[photo 1]

Paradise Kitchen Grilled Chicken With Chilies, Garlic And Lime


  • 2 broiler chickens, split (about 5-6 pounds total)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 fresh chili pepper, minced (use your favorite depending on heat)
  • 2 branches rosemary, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons Mediterranean Spice Blend
  • 1 tablespoon Mellow Yellow Spice Blend
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • additional olive oil as needed
  • sea salt as needed
  • 1 whole lime cut in half
  • smoked paprika

Cooking Directions

  1. Prepare the grill. Place an oiled rack 4-6 inches above medium coals.
  2. Combine the oil, lime juice, rosemary, garlic, spices and salt. Brush the chicken inside and out and marinate for 3-4 hours before grilling. May be done the day before and refrigerated overnight.
  3. Place the chicken on the grill, bone side down. Baste chicken halves frequently with marinade mixture and turn every 10 minutes. Once nicely caramelized, move to the cool side of your grill and cook until done, about 30-40 minutes. When done, chicken should be tender and juices will run clear when the meat is pierced with a fork.
  4. Finish by drizzling with olive oil, sprinkles of crystals of sea salt, coarsely ground pepper, some smoked paprika and squeezes of fresh lime over the crispy chicken just before taking it to the table. Small things like this will make a huge difference.
  5. Toss some lime wedges and big sprigs of cilantro around it as well.

This dish uses the Mellow Yellow Spice Blend and the Mediterranean Herb Blend.

News Stories In The Podcast:

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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