Friday, August 17, 2012

Make Some Barbecued Ribs at Home

Barbecued baby back ribs for dinner!
My husband LOVES barbecued ribs. We like the smaller, baby back, pork ribs, as opposed to the larger spare ribs or beef ribs. When we were dating and first married, there was a rib joint called "The Farmhouse" not too far away, here in Richmond, VA,  They had the BEST bbq ribs! You could smell the smoke a mile away and they tasted as good as they smelled. The owners kept their sauce recipe a secret, but many folks swore up and down that there was peanut butter in it! That's right, creamy peanut butter. I never knew exactly what their secret was, but man, oh, man, they were some tasty ribs. They almost fell off the perfectly cooked bones, and they weren't too fatty or tough. That place closed a long time ago, but the memories of those ribs has stayed with us, as we've worked on trying to create the perfect rib recipe at home. Cooking ribs is considered "Manly Man Cooking" at our house (See another recipe here) , so there's always been plenty of input from the hub and the sons. Opinions are never in short supply around here!!

What is a perfect rib? Well, in our opinion, it's gotta' be tender, a little spicy, not too fatty and very flavorful. By watching The Food Network rib competitions, I've learned that the meat shouldn't fall completely OFF the bone, or the rib can be eliminated from the competition. Therefore, the trick seems to be to get them so tender that the meat almost falls off the bone. After trying out numerous recipes and tasting ribs all around Richmond and other places we've visited, this is the recipe and method that I've come up with for home cooks. I am sure it would be a little better if we had a smoker, but I think I've got that almost covered by my cooking method. Tender and tasty, the slow cooking in the oven, paired with the soaking and rub, guarantees a moist rib that's not too fatty.

The very first thing I do, is to soak the ribs in beer. I remove them from their package, put them into a large baking dish and then pour over the beer. I use one can for for each rack. I let them sit for an hour or two, turning them over a few times. Next, I drain off and discard the beer. After draining, I return them to the pan and season the ribs with a dry rub. I roast them covered with foil, low and slow in the oven, before finishing them on the grill with some sauce. Here's my recipe for the dry rub for a single rack of ribs, which will feed 3 - 4 people. Double or triple the recipe if you need more than one rack of ribs. (More instructions follow the Rub Recipe.)

Dry Rub for Ribs
1 T. McCormick Grill Mates Mesquite Seasoning
1/4 c. brown sugar
Ribs with the dry rub.
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 T. chili powder
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
a pinch of dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
a pinch of dried thyme
Mix everything together and sprinkle on the bottom and top of the ribs, rubbing it into the meat so the rub sticks to the ribs. Eliminate the cayenne pepper and/or the dried red pepper flakes if you don't like things spicy.  Place the rack on a large cookie sheet or baking pan, and cover with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Preheat your grill the way you normally do it. We use our gas grill, but any kind will work fine. You can soak wood chips and use them if you wish -- we've done that and the ribs are always good, whether we do or don't.
Slather the ribs with your favorite sauce and cook them on each side, basting with more sauce, for about 15 to 20 more minutes, until the sauce begins to brown and caramelize on the ribs. The ribs are already cooked from the time in the oven, so you don't need to worry about temperature or undercooking the meat.

Baby Back Ribs on the Grill
Finally, a word about sauces: Commercial bbq sauces are so good that we don't make our own, but "concoct" one, using our favorites. I like to mix 1 c. Sauers Barbecue Sauce with 1 c. K.C. Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce and 1 T. Texas Pete Hot Sauce. A lot of people swear by Sweet Baby Rays Barbecue Sauce, but we find that a little too sweet. Since we don't like our sauce really sweet, I cut the sweetness of the K.C. Masterpiece with the Sauers. "Sauers" is a regional tomato and vinegar based sauce, made here in VA. In addition, since we like a little kick I add the Texas Pete, but you could totally leave that out, if your family prefers the ribs milder.
Try this, for your family or for a backyard cookout. It's a crowd pleaser!

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