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Christmas in Savannah – Left Coast Style

Bill Wickliffe

Mom doesn’t like turkey. Simple as that. We always seem to have it on Thanksgiving but on Christmas we need to get a little more creative. So I asked her last Thanksgiving what would you like for Christmas dinner. Being that I have taken over most of the cooking chores on holidays I have no problem making anything for mom. She said “ribs”. And Mac and Cheese. I said “just like Christmas in Savannah”. Beautiful!

As far as the ribs go, I simply slather a little soy sauce on the outside of them then put on a pork rub that has a lot of brown sugar in it. Put them in a large roasting pan where the two bone edges of the baby backs are touching the bottom of the pan.  In other words the meat side up. Cover the pan tightly with foil and put into a 300 degree oven for 21/2 hrs. Take the ribs out and pour off any liquid. If you want to finish the ribs in the oven that’s fine. Just sauce them up turning and sauce the other side for the next half hour. I prefer to take the ribs out of the oven and finish them on a charcoal grill to give the sauce a slight char.

The Sauce is a concoction I developed while working in the SFFD. It actually got published in a cookbook by some guys who did a book on cooking in the San Francisco Fire Dept.

The book is Firehouse Food.

The Sauce:

  • 3 c. beef broth
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 c. worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. red pepper flakes
  • 3 T. liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients in a medium heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. Remove from heat and let cool before transferring to a storage container.
Serve the ribs with extra sauce on the table.

The Mac and Cheese recipe was from my neighbor who passed away last year. It actually was her grandmothers recipe from the past. I started to make this every year when the Academy Awards were showing. All the neighbors come over to Martha and my home and fill out ballots on all the categories. Ten bucks goes in the hat when you walk into the front door and whom ever gets the most right answers takes the pot.

Leslie’s Nana’s Mac:

  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 2 lbs good quality sharp cheddar cheese sliced
  • 4 large eggs
  • butter, salt and pepper

Butter 13×9 pyrex pan. Cook macaroni in salt and oil for 1/2 the cooking time. Fill pan 1/2 full of macaroni. Layer with sliced cheddar cheese. Dab with butter and season with salt and plenty of pepper. Mix the milk and eggs together and pour half of it over the mac. Repeat layering and pour remainder of milk mixture over the top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until brown and bubbling. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

I didn’t say it was good for you but it is pretty good. Serve with garlic bread.

Garlic Bread:

  • I large loaf of San Francisco sour dough french bread
  • I head garlic minced
  • I cube of butter
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • I cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped green onions
  • paprika

Cut the french bread long ways down the middle. Slice each half into about eight pieces not all the way through. In a sauce pan melt butter with the olive oil. Add garlic and heat for a couple of minutes but don’t let the garlic turn brown or burn. Slather the garlic mixture on both halves of bread.  Sprinkle 4-5 drops on each slice of bread with the worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese evenly over both halves. Follow up with the green onions and then finish up with a nice shake of paprika over the entire thing.

Broil until the edges start to get black. Be careful and don’t burn. Assign one person to watch carefully. I usually do this one rack down from the top rack in the oven. Serve with napkins to sop up the butter that will run down your arm. Or you can simply lick it clean.

Enjoy.

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