December 02, 2010

Saucy Baby Back Ribs

This past weekend, I took advantage of another weekend of unseasonably warm weather to grill up another batch of ribs.  After going with Memphis-style ribs last time, this time I decided to make ribs with a thick, tangy, ketchup-based sauce of the sort typical to Chicago and Kansas City rib joints.

As usual, I started with a dry rub of spices, then refrigerated the ribs for a time to let the spices set and form a crust.  On this occasion, I got things ready the night before, giving the ribs lots of time.  Some sources suggest more than a couple hours doesn't add much, but this is far from a universal opinion.  I have to admit, I got just as good results when I made the Memphis-style ribs, which were only refrigerated for a couple of hours.  That's what I expected, but I like to test things out first-hand, especially when one gets different opinions from different sources.

When I was ready to cook the ribs, I got them out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for a half hour or so while I got the grill going.   Once again, I used an indirect-grilling set-up with pans of water on the upper and lower levels of the grill, and various flavoring agents in the water pans, to provide flavor in addition to that provided by the spice rub and the wood smoke.   Once the grill was heated up, I tossed on the ribs.  I applied a mop of apple juice and cider vinegar every half-hour or so, and applied a couple coats of barbecue sauce during the last half-hour of cooking, and in just under four hours, the ribs were ready. 

If you compare the recipe below with the one for the Memphis-Style ribs, you'll note that while the spice mixes I use are quite different, the mop is the same.   Apple juice and cider vinegar is a pretty basic mop, widely useful for grilling pork, regardless what other flavors one is going for, and it was especially appropriate since I went with apple wood chips for the smoke this time around.  For the water pans, I went with a bit more of a fruity flavor this time around.

The result was excellent: two racks of flavorful, saucy, perfectly-cooked ribs. 

With winter coming on, I probably won't be barbecuing any ribs for awhile, but I can't be too disappointed by that, given how great a closer these ones were to the season.

Saucy Baby Back Ribs

yield = 6 servings (or fewer, for true rib fanatics)

Spice Rub
1       tablespoon dry mustard
1       tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
1       tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1       teaspoon celery seed
1       teaspoon kosher salt
3/4    teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2    teaspoon allspice

2       racks baby back ribs (about 2 pounds each)
3       tablespoons vegetable oil

1       cup apple juice
4       tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Grill Preparation
         vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray
2       cups apple wood chips
2       disposable baking pans
4       apples, quartered and cored
2       limes, quartered
2       bay leaves

1 1/4 cup ketchup
1/4    cup molasses
1/4    cup apple juice
2       tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/8    teaspoon liquid smoke

Measure out the rub ingredients. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.  Place the ribs on a baking sheet.  Lightly brush both sides of the ribs with vegetable oil to help the spice rub adhere, then sprinkle spoonfulls of the spice rub over the ribs, pressing and rubbing it in with the fingers to thoroughly cover both sides of the ribs.   Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the ribs (still on the baking sheet) for at least two hours.

Combine the apple juice and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl.

Start the apple chips soaking about an hour before you plan to start grilling the ribs. 

Place eight apple quarters, four lime quarters and one bay leaf in each disposable pan and add water to about 1 inch deep.

Clean the cooking grate with a grill brush and either lightly coat it with vegetable oil or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare the grill for indirect heat.  Fill a charcoal chimney about half-full and ignite the briquettes in the chimney.  Spread about a dozen unlit briquettes in the direct heat area.  When the briquettes in the chimney are hot (covered with white ash), arrange them on one side of the grill, atop the unlit briquettes.  On the other side of the lower layer of the grill, set one of the disposable pans.

Set the cooking grate in place, close the grill and let it heat for about 5 minutes.  Ideally, the temperature in the indirect grilling area should be approximately 225 degrees.  Manipulate the grill vents to reach this temperature.

When the grill is ready, toss a handfull of the soaked apple wood chips on top of the briquettes, then set the other disposable pan on the cooking grate, directly atop the briquettes.  Place the ribs, meat side up, in the indirect heating area, above the disposable pan on the lower level.  Close the grill, placing the top vent over the ribs to draw smoke through the grill.

Every half-hour, baste the ribs with a couple tablespoons of the apple juice-vinegar mixture, add some more apple wood chips and add a few more briquettes or some water to the pans as necessary , but otherwise do not open the grill.  After about an hour, switch the positions of the two racks of ribs and turn them 180 degrees.  After two more hours, turn the ribs again, back to their original position.

While the ribs are cooking, mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.  When the ribs hit an internal temperature of 160 degrees, start basting them with a light coating of sauce every 15 minutes.

The ribs are done when the meat hits an internal temperature of 180 degrees (approximately 4 hours on a 225-degree grill).   Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, brush with a thick layer of sauce,  tent with foil and let them rest about 10 minutes before slicing them into servings and transferring them to a serving plate.  Serve with the remaining sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment