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What's that rumble?

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What’s that rumble?

This is the weekend it really gets noisy around here. When the big drag race comes to town and tens of thousands of happy people descend upon the lakes area, one can almost feel the hum of traffic, coming from all directions.

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The buzz the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals create — from radio, TV, print and the arrival of 50,000-some extra folks — is electric. It is difficult for anyone to get married this weekend, at least in these parts, because lodging accommodations are few and far between.

And don’t forget about the rumble.

I’m not sure why folks get so excited having their ears ruptured while they watch two contraptions race down a quarter-mile track, burning thousands of dollars worth of fuel and blown engine parts in the short process.

Long ago, I was lucky enough to watch the races from the owner’s box. ESPN was filming exactly what I was seeing. When it appeared to me that one car, perhaps, had bested the other by the length of a really long grain of rice, someone next to me slammed their hand on the table and yelled, “Smoked ‘em! No contest!”

I think the record for margin of victory in a drag race is the length of a Cheeto.

Since I’ve lived in this area, the rumble provided by Brainerd International Raceway has meant one thing to me — barbeque ribs.

Back in the day when oval racing dominated the track, I was the chef at the Channel Inn on Gull. Every year I prepared hundreds of pounds of ribs for the drivers. Paul Newman probably ate my ribs, but no one ever saw the scrawny, blue-eyed actor with barbeque sauce on his face.

I won’t be bringing any ribs to the track this year. But when I hear the rumble in the distance, I’ll know it’s not distant thunder or bombing practice at Camp Ripley. It’s the explosion of engines.

And the smell hovering in the air won’t be the acrid smell of burnt rocket fuel, but instead, the smoky aroma of slow-grilled baby-backs and St. Louis-style ribs.

Roasted & Grilled Ribs

Roasting and grilling is my favorite way to prepare ribs. The ribs are tender and moist and have a grilled flavor that I prefer over that attained by a smoker.

2 racks St. Louis-style ribs

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup liquid smoke

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground celery seed

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon onion salt

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Several dashes Tobasco sauce

Place the ribs on a rack in a large baking pan. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. With a pastry brush paint both sides of the ribs liberally with the mixture. Pour about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake the ribs in a 425-degree oven for about an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill and set it on low. Place the racks of ribs on the grill, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, turning once. Brush with barbecue sauce a couple of times during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Cut the racks in two-bone pieces. This recipe serves 4 but ruins about 100 napkins.

Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon minced green onion

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon Tobasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. This recipe makes 3 cups of sauce.

Pineapple BBQ Sauce

2 cups pineapple juice

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

3/4 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Place the pineapple juice, jalapeno, cilantro and ginger in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue boiling until the liquid is reduced by half.

Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups.

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