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Happy Memorial Day weekend. Boy, that sounds a bit odd to put “happy” and “memorial” in the same sentence, eh? In addition to honoring our brave soldiers that have gone before us, we are going to enjoy the company of our friends and family.  Around here, the weather is beautiful, and barbecue grills are going to be kicking out propane like crazy this weekend.  One of our favorite foods to cook when entertaining are my Sweet and Smokey Baby Back Ribs.

I realize that barbecue is a sensitive subject for a lot of home cooks. Everyone seems to have their own tastes and way of doing things. Sauce/no sauce, rub/no rub, grill/smoker. I’ve heard that in some parts, barbecue recipes are guarded as heavily as the Holy Grail. People are really that serious about it. If you are a take-no-prisoners-Barbecue-Authority-type, I apologize in advance for anything you may read or see here today. I’m not too fussy about barbecue. I operate pretty simply with applying a good rub, letting it sit and get happy overnight, then slow roasting in the oven the next day. Um, yeah. I said in the oven. Not a smoker. Not a grill. I hope we’re still friends. Oh, and I’ll happily share my rub and sauce recipes with you–so long as you please agree not to report me to the serious Barbecue Authorities for any egregious offenses against Barbecue-dom. The printable is available on my Tasty Kitchen Profile.

We are going to need:

2 full slabs of baby back pork ribs (5.5-6 pounds)

1 recipe Sweet and Smokey Rib Rub (below)

1 recipe BBQ Sauce (below. or use your favorite bottled sauce)

First, let’s get our rub on. In a small bowl, take:

¼ C. smoked paprika

1 tsp. onion powder

2 Tbs. granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. chipotle chili powder

½ tsp. dried thyme

and mix it up. Set it aside and make the BBQ sauce.

Yep, we’re going to make BBQ sauce.  Give it a try–it’s really good. But if you are short on time, just don’t feel like it, or have a bottled sauce that you absolutely love, go ahead and use it. Really. No skin off my nose, at all. But if you’ve got the inclination, you won’t be sorry. Here’s what you need:

2 C. ketchup

1 C. water

½ C. packed brown sugar

1/3 C. granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp. black pepper

1 ½ tsp. onion powder

1 ½ tsp. dried mustard

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs. Worchestershire sauce

½ C. apple cider vinegar (or plain white vinegar)

2 Tbs. light corn syrup

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan, and bring to a boil.
  2. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so the sauce doesn’t burn.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Sauce will reduce and darken in color.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight, or for up to a month.

Baby back ribs need minimal prep to get them ready for the rub. The slab tends to have a glob of fat on top, and a tough membrane underneath. We are going to fix that, but first, grab a rimmed sheet pan and line it with aluminum foil.

Rinse the baby back ribs, and pat dry.  Trim excess fat from the top of the ribs, being careful not to cut through to the bone.

Flip the ribs over to the back side, so that the bones appear to be curling upward.  With a sharp knife, gently loosen the white membrane on one end of the back of the bones. Once an “edge” of the membrane is loosened, firmly grasp the membrane and pull across the bones. The membrane should more or less come off in a large sheet. It’s very important to remove the membrane—it’s tough, chewy and gross. These are three things you do not want in your ribs.

Take the rib rub and sprinkle it onto both sides of each slab of ribs, and rub it in so that it sticks. The ribs are starting to relax right about now.

Cover the ribs with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Overnight is best. Try not to think about them too much while you are waiting. Anticipation makes the heart grow fonder. That is the phrase, right?

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  Slow roast the ribs, curled side up, for 2 hours.

Forgive me for the lack of photos on the final cooking process. Seems I got so excited about side dishes to go with the ribs, that I plumb forgot to take pictures.  (Mashed cinnamon sweet potatoes, caesar salad, and corn muffins, by the way.  Monster chocolate chip cookies for dessert.) My apologies.

After the first two hours, increase the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.  Turn the ribs over (so curled side is down) with long kitchen tongs. We want to give each side equal time.

Slow roast the ribs for an additional 1 ½ hours, before adding BBQ sauce. (If you are party to the “no sauce” or “sauce on the side” camp, just continue roasting for another 15 minutes and skip the sauce.)

We’re almost there!  Turn the ribs back over (curled side up,) baste with BBQ sauce, and roast for 10 minutes. I like to have sauce on both sides of my ribs. I’m sassy that way.

Turn ribs again (last time! curled side down,) baste with BBQ sauce, and finish roasting for 10 minutes. There! We’re done! Remove the ribs from the oven to a cutting board. Let rest for a few minutes, lest you fry all the fingerprints off of your hands trying to handle the hot rib bones. When you’re feeling lucky, take a sharp knife and cut in between the bones.  I like to cut the ribs into portions, rather than cutting each individual bone apart. I guess by the end of this recipe, I am a bit impatient, and I want to dig in!

I know that making ribs is a long (but easy!) process.  Your patience will be rewarded!

Comfortably Domestic BBQ Sauce

http://comfortablydomestic.com

2 C. ketchup

1 C. water

½ C. packed brown sugar

1/3 C. granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp. black pepper

1 ½ tsp. onion powder

1 ½ dried mustard

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs. Worchestershire sauce

½ C. apple cider vinegar (or plain white vinegar)

2 Tbs. light corn syrup

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan, and bring to a boil.
  2. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so the sauce doesn’t stick or burn.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Sauce will reduce and darken in color.
  4. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Comfortably Domestic’s Sweet and Smokey Rib Rub

¼ C. smoked paprika

1 tsp. onion powder

2 Tbs. granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. chipotle chili powder

½ tsp. dried thyme

Combine all ingredients, and stir well.

  1. Sprinkle on and rub in to both sides of slabs of ribs, or other pork, to taste.
  2. Makes a scant ½ C. of rub, or enough for 2-3 full slabs of baby back ribs.
  3. Store unused rub in an airtight container.
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