The answer is:
A Coffee Rub. Believe me when I tell you that this can make just about any cut of meat seem like a gourmet meal.
Last Christmas at my Mom & Dad's house, Dad & I were watching the Cowboy Cook on RFDTV.... or whatever that show is called. He put a coffee rub on a beef tenderloin then grilled it. It looked amazing. So one day I decided to try to find that rub recipe online. After all, it is a merger of my favorite thing: coffee with Dave's: meat. It is a win-win. I'm not sure I found the Cowboy Cook's exact recipe, but I found this one on http://www.seriouseats.com/.
Since then I've used it on Pork Baby Back Ribs, Pork Country Style Ribs and even Venison Tenderloin!! It makes everything taste amazing!
Here's the breakdown:
This is enough for a large rack of ribs. I cut the recipe in half for baby back ribs and for a small venison tenderloin.
Just rub all over the meat, pushing into the meat if it's thawed at all, or if not, don't sweat it (and be sure to remove the membrane first if cooking ribs). Then you can either grill or smoke the meat or cook it in the oven. Dave's the griller in this family and he has been working whenever I've made this, so I've just cooked the meat in the oven. I generally cook at a lower temp for a long time. I think I cooked the country style ribs at 250-300* for about 2-3 hours or something like that. Be sure to put plenty of water in the bottom of the pan you're cooking the meat in so it doesn't get dried out and cover it with foil. Check the meat periodically to see if you need to raise/lower the heat to get it perfectly on time with when you plan to serve dinner. And check the temp of the meat with a meat thermometer to be sure it's done.
On this particular day, round about 4:00 I was frantically trying to figure out what to fix for dinner (as usual). Dave doesn't like to come home to nothing to eat. :) Go figure...So I went to the freezer and pulled out some frozen venison tenderloin (that we'd butchered and wrapped up ourselves last fall).
I mixed up the rub, put it all over the still frozen meat, plopped it in a 9 x 13 and filled the pan with a 1/4 - 1/2 inch of water. Then I covered it with foil and put it in the oven at 300* (and I didn't even wait for it to be pre-heated). 5 minutes of prep. Seriously. So easy.
I was sure it would be done around 6:00. It was. But Dave wasn't home yet. So I stuck the meat back in and reduced the heat to 200* to keep it warm. And he ended up working until 7:00 so by the time we pulled it out of the oven...it was a bit charred. Oops. All the water had steamed out of the pan in that last hour and it was drying out the meat. It was not terrible, but definitely could have been better if I'd watched it more closely (or if Dave had been home by 6:00). So, that's my advice. Watch it carefully.
I served it with garlic parmesan smashed potatoes (which were leftovers by the way) and green beans last night. And I'm going to use these meat leftovers in a salad for lunch today.
And Dave's having some leftover on a bagel for a quick sandwich at work.
What other rubs or marinades do you like to employ to create a super quick, easy dinner for your family?