As I mentioned a few posts ago, we made barbecued ribs for a dinner party several weeks ago. I’d never attempted making BBQ ribs before, but I took my inspiration from the July cover recipe of Bon Appetit magazine and the Food List Challenge (another check!). I made the ribs with St. Louis-style spare ribs, which are bigger than baby back ribs. (I did a little internet research to see where the term St. Louis-style comes from, but I couldn’t settle on a clear answer.) Baby back ribs are leaner than spare ribs and the next time, I’ll try this recipe with baby back ribs. A lesson in pork ribs: Baby back ribs are connected to the backbone and nestled beneath the loin muscle. Spare ribs on the other hand, are larger and run down to the breast bone. Many regard the spare rib as having meat that is more flavorful than the baby back, because of the marbling in spare ribs. For me, the extra fat was a bit too rich and heavy.
I don’t eat ribs often, mainly because they are bit much for me. Nevertheless, something about ribs invokes a Flinstones fun into the atmosphere and I thought it would be good for a backyard gathering with our friends. Admittedly, 8 pounds of ribs were a little daunting and although the recipe calls for using for 4 racks of St. Louis-style spare ribs, I used only 3 racks, which was more than enough for the four of us with a few side salads. Even with 3 racks, I used all of the rub in the recipe. Since this was my first foray into barbequed ribs, I followed the recipe very closely. I made the ribs my own by making a Bourbon BBQ sauce for basting and dipping, combining a few different recipes I read online. The result was a tender, smoky rib with a nice tangy, BBQ sauce. Both the ribs and the sauce recipe follow.
BARBECUED RIBS (Bourbon BBQ Sauce Recipe below)
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 pounds St. Louis-style spareribs (3-4 racks)
2-2 1/2 cups Bourbon barbecue sauce (recipe follows)
Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, mix together salt, dry mustard, paprika, cayenne and black peppers. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of foil and then rub the spices all over ribs. Wrap racks individually and divide between 2 baking sheets.
Bake ribs until very tender but not falling apart, about 3 hours. I did this the night before, letting the ribs cool completely, and then refrigerated the ribs in the foil over night. It was difficult to resist a few nibbles out of the oven, but I highly recommend refrigerating overnight because it allows the ribs to firm up and makes them easier to grill.
Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill. Baste the ribs with the Bourbon BBQ sauce and place them on the grill. Grill the ribs, continuing to baste with BBQ sauce and turn them frequently. I liked the ribs with a little char on them and grilled them for about 10-12 minutes. Since these ribs were so tender, I served them on a cutting board with a knife, allowing my guests to cut the ribs they wanted. Serve with additional bourbon BBQ sauce for dipping.
BOURBON BBQ SAUCE
½ onion, minced
5-6 gloves garlic, minced
¾ cup bourbon whiskey (any kind will do)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ketchup
½ cup tomato paste
1/3 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup Worchestershire sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Franks)
(NOTE: There is no salt in this BBQ sauce recipe because there is sodium in ketchup, Worchestershire sauce and the rub for the ribs already contains salt)
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine the onion, garlic, and whiskey. Simmer until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients. Bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer on medium low for 20-30 minutes, stirring periodically. If you want a smooth sauce, you can strain out the onions and garlic, but I like to leave them in for texture and to signal it’s HOMEMADE!