May 2018 - The Memorial Day Issue

chile ribs and baked beans

Memorial Day is more than just a three-day holiday weekend. It began after the Civil War as Decoration Day, a day of remembrance to honor the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. Each year on this day, we take time to remember all of the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country.

It is not, however, a day only for looking back. Memorial Day kicks off summer across America, as we look forward to beautiful weekends spent gathered outside with family and friends. To start barbecue season off right this year, we are featuring a fresh take on three traditional barbecue favorites: baby back ribs, baked beans and potato salad. As you can expect, we’ve dialed the flavors “up to 11.” Chile and Morel Dusted Baby Back Ribs are smoked for five hours, while our Lager Baked Beans get a healthy dose of poblano peppers. And the name says it all for our Loaded Baked Potato Salad, a popular recipe we first shared back in 2011.

All of us at Kalamazoo wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday weekend, and a joyous summer season to come.


Chile and Morel Dusted Baby Back Ribs

Chile Baby Back Ribs

Dried chiles and morels make for an earthy and complex barbecue rub on these baby back ribs. Smoked for five hours at 225°F, these ribs are tender, juicy and flavorful. You won’t even need sauce for this recipe! We relied on the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet for perfect time and temperature smoking, but you can also achieve great results with the Barbecue Pellet Adapters in the Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill. Whatever your gear, these ribs are certain to be a big hit at your summer gathering.



Prepare the Chile Morel Barbecue Rub.

Remove the silver skin membrane from the bony side of the ribs. Generously rub the meaty sides with the Chile Morel Barbecue Rub. Refrigerate  seasoned ribs for 1 to 2 hours.

Prepare the smoker for 225°F smoking with oak wood for flavor. We recommend preheating the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet for 1 hour before putting in the food.

Transfer the ribs from the refrigerator to the smoker (we like to start meat in the smoker cold because it helps to develop a more intense smoke ring).

Smoke the ribs for 4 hours, maintaining moderate wood smoke the entire time. Wrap each rack of ribs in aluminum foil, and return to the smoker for 1 more hour of cooking (5 hours total). This makes for juicier ribs.

The ribs are done when the meat is pulling away from the ends of the bones and the meat is tender. We prefer ribs that are tender, but still have a little “chew” to them. The goal is not to have them “fall off the bone".

Note: If you would like to smoke the ribs in the Hybrid Fire Grill, we have described a few methods in our Barbecue Techniques Grilling Guide. We recommend using our barbecue wood pellet adapters and following option one.

Chile Morel Barbecue Rub

Barbecue Rub for Ribs

This rub combines the earthy flavor of dried morels with the complex heat of dried Guajillo chiles. The extra effort required to grind your own ingredients is well worth it as it produces a rub that is bursting with flavor. This rub pairs wonderfully with pork and beef.


  • 3 dried Guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 dried chipotle grande chile, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 ounce dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced dried garlic
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper


Toast the Guajillo chiles in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Coarsely chop. Combine the Guajillo and chipotle chiles, mushrooms and garlic in a food processor, blender or spice mill. Process to a somewhat uniform texture. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the sugar, salt and pepper.

Rub will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one month.

Lager Baked Beans

Lager Baked Beans

We enjoy experimenting with variations on the most humble of barbecue sides, baked beans. This latest culinary adventure derived its flavor from a craft brewed American lager and a hearty dose of fresh poblano peppers. Add two hours in the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet underneath a few racks of baby back ribs, and you’ve got baked beans magic.


  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 12 ounces lager (we used Salmon Pants)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 25 ounces canned white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 25 ounces canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained


Prepare a smoker or grill for smoking at 225°F with oak wood for flavor.

Cut the bacon into thick “sticks” or bâtonnets. Using a large cast iron skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until fully-cooked and browned. Drain on paper towels, reserving 1 teaspoon of bacon fat from the pan.

In the same skillet, using the reserved fat, sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the beer, brown sugar, paprika and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in the cooked bacon and poblanos. Gently fold in the beans.

Place the skillet into the smoker, cooking at 225°F for 2 hours, preferably underneath some delicious pork smoking at the same time.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Usually baking potatoes on the grill requires some planning to make sure they are hot and ready at the same time as the rest of the meal. We’ve made it easier on you because this salad can be prepared ahead of time. Generous amounts of bacon, cheese, green onions and sour cream are used to create that awesome loaded baked potato flavor.


  • 4 russet potatoes, cleaned and cut into thirds (I recommend keeping the skins on)
  • 1 pound bacon (I prefer thick-cut, apple wood-smoked bacon for this recipe), cooked crisp and cut up
  • Fine sea salt
  • 3 green onions, sliced, green and light-green portions only
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings at room temperature (optional, see note)
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)


Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Once boiling, cook an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Drain well and cool to room temperature.

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Add the green onions, bacon and cheese.

Whisk together the sour cream, butter, paprika and bacon drippings in a separate bowl. Fold into the potatoes, being careful not to break up the potatoes too much.

Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before serving. When ready to serve, season with black pepper and additional salt if needed. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Note: I normally cook bacon on the grill. However, when I want to reserve drippings for salad dressing and other uses, I cook it in the oven following Alton Brown’s instructions.  Place a wire rack on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the bacon strips in a single layer on the rack and transfer the pan to the middle rack of a cool oven. Set the oven to 400ºF. Check the bacon when the oven reaches temperature. Continue cooking until crisp, checking every 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to spill hot bacon drippings when removing the pan from the oven.

Innovation is at the heart of every Kalamazoo product. Each part of the collection – from grills and pizza ovens to refrigeration and cabinetry – represents a significant departure from the established norm. Our passion for outdoor cooking and our fiercely independent design philosophy drive us to establish new industry benchmarks. Consequently, our list of exclusives and innovations speaks for itself.

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