food

Whip up watermelon ribs from Willie's favorite Nashville restaurant, The Loveless Cafe

May 20, 2014 at 4:49 PM ET

Video: In the new series “TODAY’s Hometown Cookin,’” Willie Geist and the team from Nashville’s Loveless Café make some old-fashioned Southern cuisine from one of his favorite spots.

This week, the anchors are giving us a taste of some of their favorite meals from a hometown restaurant. Willie Geist dishes out recipes, including ribs, creamed corn and more, from his favorite restaurant, The Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tenn., near where Willie went to college. 

Don't forget to check out recipes for tamales from Natalie's favorite restaurant, Zafra, and BBQ recipes from Tamron's top Texas joint, City Market. 

The Loveless Cafe's watermelon ribs
Yields: 3 cups

For the rub:

  • 1/4 cup seasoning salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup black pepper, ground
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup whole oregano, dired
  • 1/8 cup onion powder
  • 3/4 cup Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

For the ribs:

  • 2 cups of the rub seasoning
  • 32 ounces BBQ sauce
  • 1 1-lb. watermelon, rind removed

To make the rub:

In a medium bowl, mix by hand the first eight ingredients thoroughly. Add the brown sugar and be sure to "knead" it into the rub until all the larger particles of sugar are well incorporated. The brown sugar, being moist, has a tendency to lump up and therefore will not stay on the meat if not blended well into the rub.

To make the ribs:

Liberally season both sides of the racks of ribs. Cook the ribs until 90-95% done. You can grill, roast or smoke your ribs, whatever you are comfortable with, though the taste of hickory smoke is preferable and hard to replace. Cut the ribs into three-bone sections.

Place the BBQ sauce sauce into a 4-inch deep roasting pan. Slather the rib sections in the sauce and "shingle" them into a row in the pan. Cut the watermelon into 1-2" cubes and place over the ribs. Cover the pan and place in a slow oven (250 degrees) for approx. 3 hours. Serves 4-6. 

The Loveless Cafe's Southern creamed corn
Yields: 4-6 servings

  • 9 cups extra sweet golden corn
  • 6 cups sweet white corn  
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp and 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • Half pint of heavy whipping cream

Put six cups of corn (3 cups each white and golden) in one pot and nine cups (6 cups golden and 3 cups white) in another pot.

To the 6-cup pot, add: 

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp butter

To the 9-cup pot, add:

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp butter

Cover corn in both pots with water and put both pots on stove and bring to a boil. Drain the larger pot of corn and return drained corn to the pot and set aside. Drain the smaller pot of corn, return drained corn to pot and add a half pint of heavy whipping cream and bring to a boil then purée in a blender.

Add pureed mixture to whole corn and mix thoroughly and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: The bulk of the sugar is drained off from both pots so the sugar does not remain. 

Southern-style green beans
Yields: 4-6 servings

  • 1/8 lb Loveless Country smoked bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 14-oz cans Italian-cut green beans
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp butter

Chop bacon and sauté with onion until onion is translucent. Set aside. Drain one can of green beans and add both cans in an oven safe dish. Add chicken stock and butter. Mix in the bacon and onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

 Note: Country smoked bacon can be salty, so may want to add salt and pepper to taste upon completion. 

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