Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Grilled Baby-Back Ribs with Fresh-Cherry Barbecue Sauce

When it’s time for baby-back ribs (and when isn’t it?), I usually smoke them with hickory or apple wood chips and dress them with a tomato-based barbecue sauce. It’s a common, simple, and incredibly delicious preparation.

This time, I wanted to let the sauce—or glaze—stand out, so I simply grilled the ribs slowly over indirect heat for juicy, tender meat and great bark on the outside but without adding deep, smoked flavor.

Sweet fresh cherries make a flavorful base for homemade barbecue sauce, especially when combined with a spicy chile and cider vinegar for a balance of sweet, heat, and tang all at once.

Smoked baby-back ribs are fantastic too. Check out Smoked Ribs with Spiced Maple Barbecue Sauce. Also see Smoked Baby-Back Ribs for additional tips on preparing the rack.

Tip: If you don't have an official cherry pitter (I don't), do this:

Run a knife blade around the length of the cherry 
Twist the cherry to open and remove the pit
Serves 2-3


For the Ribs
  • 2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • sea salt
  • 1 3-lb rack of baby-back ribs, cut crosswise in half, membrane removed
Baby-Back Ribs
For the Fresh-Cherry Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 cup chopped pitted, fresh cherries (about 1/2 lb whole cherries)
  • 1 habanero chile, chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Cherries Ready to Pit

For the Ribs
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the ribs, coating completely. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours (or overnight).
Spice-Rubbed Ribs
  1. Light a charcoal grill for indirect heat, stacking an ample amount of coals on 1 side. Let the ribs stand at room temperature while the grill heats.
  2. When the coals turn gray, allow them to cool 20-25 minutes until the grill temperature is about 375 °. Lay the ribs on the side opposite the coals and close the lid, leaving the vents open. Grill the ribs for 15 minutes in one position, then turn them over and grill for another 15 minutes. Grill for a total of about 2-1/2 hours, shifting positions every 20-25 minutes after the first half hour.
  3. Let the coals continue to cool naturally so that the ribs cook low and slow during the second half of the process. (Note: If you’re using a gas grill, start the ribs at 375° then reduce the temperature to 275° F for the last hour of cooking.)
  4. Baste the ribs with the cherry sauce (recipe follows) 2 to 3 times, beginning about 15 minutes before removing them from the grill. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 3 minutes.
Ribs Beginning to Grill
Ribs after 1st Turn 
Grilled Ribs
Ribs with Sauce
Cut the racks into individual ribs, stack on a platter, and serve.

Grilled Baby-Back Ribs with Fresh-Cherry Barbecue Sauce
For the Fresh-Cherry Barbecue Sauce
  1. Place the first 4 ingredients (through vinegar) in a food processor and process until emulsified.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and simmer 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cherry mixture, ketchup, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat until slightly thickened, 20-25 minutes.
Cherry Mixture Ready to Process 
Pureed Cherry Mixture
Garlic in Butter 
Sauce Beginning to Cook 
Cooked Cherry Sauce 
Fresh-Cherry Barbecue Sauce

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