ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Who Loves Ya Baby Back Ribs” from Alton Brown*
TIMING: Quick prep the day before, then about 4 hours
DIFFICULTY: Medium difficulty, or at least the ability to be careful
TOOLS: Heavy duty aluminum foil, half sheet pan, maybe spring-loaded tongs
COOK TYPE: Oven, braising and broiling
HEALTH: Ribs aren’t quite as bad as their reputation. They are a fattier cut of meat, but that’s where the “bad” ends and the good begins. Pork is a protein, and is loaded with vitamins and the building blocks of your body, even so. Also, BBQ sauce doesn’t have to be all bad. Many spices contain positive phytonutrients and whatnot. On the other hand, you don’t want to eat them every night.
EXPERIENCE: I had bought a slab of pork ribs from the store, on sale. I knew that I could throw them in the crock pot with BBQ sauce and that would make me happy, but I still had not replaced our crock pot. So I turned to the spread sheet.
Alton Brown floated to the top, even though his process seemed way more complicated than other rib recipes. AB has all the science down, though, so I figured his technique would turn out great ribs.
In the end, not so much. While my family just sort of poked at their helpings, I thought the ribs were dry, tough, gamy, and oddly spiced. In other words, there is no reason I would repeat this recipe, especially since it was not fast or easy, although I am confused about the taste, since the flavorings are really straight-forward and should be delicious. Perhaps I had a bad rack of ribs (bought at a different grocer from my usual)? It’s called “Who Loves Ya Baby Back Ribs,” so someone, somewhere must have thought it was a good idea.
I will have other recipes for you later, I promise.
NOTES: Baby back ribs are short and tapered and pork. That’s about all I can tell you. I also love me some beef ribs, but that’s for another day.
Also, my sauce never got “syrupy,” even though I went well past reducing it by half. Perhaps at this point a cornstarch slurry could be helpful.
- In a small food processor, combine 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon onion powder. Process until everything is combine evenly. Move to a Mason jar and cover.
- On a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, lay out a slab of baby back ribs. Sprinkle very generously with the spice mixture, turn the slab over and sprinkle again. Wrap in foil so that it is water-tight on the bottom, and set in the fridge over night.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 250F and combine 1/2 cup white wine, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons honey, and 1 smashed clove of garlic in a pour-spout measuring cup.
- Open an end of the foil pack carefully and dump in the liquid. Re-seal and place in the oven for 3 hours.
- Remove the pan from the oven and gently re-open the end. Carefully hold the packet up so that the juices drain into a small sauce pan. Gently open the packet up to check the ribs for done-ness. They should be tender at the center. If they are not done, we-wrap and place back in the oven.
- When the ribs are about done, place the sauce pan over high heat, bring to a boil, then decrease heat to medium. Cook until reduced by half and syrupy.
- When ribs are done, remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Unwrap the ribs and slather, meat side up, with half the sauce. Broil for 3-5 minutes and serve with the rest of the sauce.
Serve with rib stuff, like a baked potato, corn on the cob, a sweet brown roll, a green salad, and a beer.
*Recipe changed from the original.