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Erica Hill and her biggest fan Nick Caruso cook ribs with roasted corn salad and spicy potato salad

When our producer, Mariecar Frias, pitched the idea for "Weekend's Biggest Fans," we were immediately game for the adventure. To say we appreciate people spending their weekend mornings with us — at home or on the plaza — would be an understatement. Our viewers and the show's fans are an integral part of what makes TODAY so special. I was really excited to meet my fan, Nick. We share not only

When our producer, Mariecar Frias, pitched the idea for "Weekend's Biggest Fans," we were immediately game for the adventure. To say we appreciate people spending their weekend mornings with us — at home or on the plaza — would be an understatement. Our viewers and the show's fans are an integral part of what makes TODAY so special. I was really excited to meet my fan, Nick. We share not only a love of cooking, but also of family and friends, and believe firmly in the power of a good meal to bring people together.

Nick's letter struck me because he, too, loved to cook with his dad. He also enjoys wandering around the market as much as I do. I love taking home something that's in season or simply new to me, and seeing what I can create. We have a similar approach to cooking: using recipes as a guide or inspiration — not as rules set in stone. We talked about maybe taking a cooking class or saddling up to a famous chef for the afternoon, but instead, Nick insisted on preparing one of his specialties at home: ribs with potato and corn salads and braised kale. I'm so glad he did. Three letters sum up his meal: O M G. It was delicious. I can't wait to recreate it for my family.

Weekend TODAY fan Nick Caruso and Erica HillToday

I really enjoyed seeing a slice of Nick's life — walking through his neighborhood; meeting Jean, the owner of his local wine shop; and spending time with his wife and stepdaughter. He and his wife have been salsa dancing for eight years, and they took a few turns around the kitchen before teaching me some moves. It was a great day with new friends, and a special chance for me to say thank you to two of the people who make these early hours worth the wake-up call.

Nick is a high-school science teacher and after spending the day with him, I know how lucky his students are. His enthusiasm for and dedication to education is clear, but I could tell he also feels a great responsibility to his students. He knows he can have a powerful impact on these kids, and he is using that to help mold not just great students, but great people and citizens. He even manages to bring a cooking lesson or two into the curriculum. These are just two of the many reasons I'm happy to now call myself one of Nick's biggest fans.

Roasted corn salad with roasted red peppers

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 Red peppers, roasted and seeded
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup of basil, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsps rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. ground Cumin
  • Tsp. honey
  • Salt, pepper, to taste
  • Olive or canola oil spray
Roasted corn salad with roasted red peppersToday

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to broil
  2. Place peppers under broiler turning periodically to char the skin.
  3. Remove peppers from oven and place in a paper bag to steam.
  4. When the peppers have cooled, remove charred skin, cut off the top and de-seed.  
  5. Set oven to 425°
  6. Spray corn with oil spray and season with salt and pepper
  7. Set corn onto a non-stick cookie sheet and roast for approximately 20 minutes.
  8. Set corn aside to cool.
  9. Remove corn from cob and place in a large bowl.
  10. Mince shallots and place in a small bowl.
  11. Add vinegar, cumin, pepper, honey and tsp of salt to shallots and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  12. Chop basil, dice peppers and add to corn.
  13. Whisk olive oil into vinegar mixture
  14. Add dressing and mix
  15. Salt and pepper to taste

Spicy potato salad with coriander vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of mixed potatoes (red, purple and white)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
Spicy potato salad with coriander vinaigretteToday

Instructions:

  1. Fill pot with enough water to cover potatoes by about 2 inches.
  2. Add 1/3 cup of kosher salt to water.
  3. Boil potatoes until just tender.
  4. Drain potatoes and place in cold water for about 5 minutes. Drain again.
  5. Cut up potatoes and place in large bowl.
  6. Add vinaigrette and mix
  7. Top with chopped cilantro.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.

Coriander vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Mince shallots and add vinegar, salt, pepper and coriander
  2. Whisk in olive oil.

Nick’s ribs

Brine:

  • 3-12oz bottles of Guiness Stout or the dark beer of your choice
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 5 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 cup of water

Instructions:

1. Combine ingredients and whisk until salt has dissolved

Nick's ribsToday

Ribs:

  • 3 lbs of pork ribs

Instructions:

  1. Place ribs in a large container (big enough to hold the ribs and brine.
  2. Place in refrigerator overnight (up to 12 hours)
  3. Take ribs out approximately 1 hour before roasting.
  4. Preheat oven to 290-300°
  5. Place ribs onto baking sheets and season with pepper
  6. Roast in oven for approximately 2.5-3.0 hours (temperature should be around 160°)
  7. Put your favorite BBQ sauce on and grill or broil.