(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)
Here’s the recipe for a perfect Nashville country Saturday afternoon. Take five or six pounds of baby back ribs. Slice them into manageable little racks of two or three ribs each. Marinate them overnight in the refrigerator in a big baggy full of a solution of olive oil, wine vinegar, minced garlic, lemon juice, a dollop of honey mustard, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, rosemary, basil and sage.
In a separate baggy, marinate some chicken thighs — the only chicken part that smokes well — and some sausage links of your choice. Me, I prefer chorizo. Meanwhile, soak three or four handfuls of mesquite and hickory wood chips in a coffee can of water for a couple of hours before smoking.
You have invited some friends to come over at about 5 o’clock. Put the coals in the smoker at about 3 o’clock, soak them in lighter fluid for a minute or so and then light them up. When the flames finally settle down, in an hour or so, and the coals are white hot, sprinkle the wood chips over the coals and start arranging the goodies on the racks above the coals and fill the smoker’s water pan with water and the remaining marinade. Put the ribs on the lowest rack, because they need a little more love and heat and attention from the hot smoke. I’ve got vertical rack inserts, so the smoker holds more ribs. Put the chicken and sausage on the top rack and put the cover on and prepare for a lovely aroma to begin wafting out.
Put your music on, because the early birds will show up around 4 to “help.” Here’s a sample Saturday afternoon barbecue soundtrack: Alan Jackson’s “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and “Livin’ on Love,” Willie and Waylon’s “Good Hearted Woman,” Waylon’s “Luckenbach, Texas,” Willie and Toby’s “Beer for My Horses,” Willie’s “Whiskey River,” Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs,” Ralph Stanley’s “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Loud Music,” George Jones’ “White Lightnin’,” Flatt & Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” Shenandoah’s “Next to You, Next to Me,” Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses” and “Caffeine, Nicotine, Benzedrine (And Wish Me Luck),” Kenny Chesney’s “When the Sun Goes Down,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Drinkin Wine Spo-Dee O’Dee” and “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous,” Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” George Strait’s “Living and Living Well” and “Designated Drinker,” Kinky Friedman’s “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed,” Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Screw You, We’re From Texas,” David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me by My Name,” Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol,” Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes,” Shooter Jennings’ “Fourth of July,” Alan Jackson’s “Pop a Top” followed by Jim Ed Brown’s original, Webb Pierce’s “There Stands the Glass,” Delbert McClinton’s “Two More Bottles of Wine” followed by Emmylou Harris’ version and “Amanda” by Don Williams followed by Waylon’s version.
Bring out bottles of chilled La Crema chardonnay and Ecco Domani pinot grigio and some Ferrari-Carano merlot and a tub of iced down longneck bottles of Beck’s beer.
Pull a few of those big ol’ ripe red and yellow tomatoes from your garden, and slice them up and serve them with some little slabs of fresh mozzarella cheese you got at Wild Oats when you ran out on your lunch hour Friday. Drizzle the tomatoes and mozzarella with some good olive oil. Sprinkle with shredded fresh basil leaves from your garden. That’s your appetizer.
When the ribs and chicken and sausage are ready, serve them with some Publix New York Style potato salad. Forget that southern potato salad with eggs all in it. New Yorkers do know how to make tater salad, after all. Face it. May as well have some Publix cole slaw for those finicky people who demand green vegetables.
After you’ve all eaten everything you possibly can, bring out a plateful of paletas (those tasty Mexican fruit popsicles you also bought Friday on your lunch hour at that little paleta store on 12th Avenue South). And bring out a bottle of Maker’s Mark and some cracked ice and spring water and a mason jar of ’shine. And some cigars. Light something up. Live life.
Share the love. Give it to a stranger. You’re s’posed to share it with your friends.
(Note to my relative in Austin: Please e-mail me again. Your note was lost.)