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!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Slow-Roasted Baby-Back Ribs with Spicy Honey-Barbecue Sauce

Cold, windy weather makes it tough to keep a charcoal smoker going at the right low temperature for a few hours. But that doesn’t mean rib season is over! Sure, nothing beats the great outdoors when it comes to slow-cooked baby-backs, but your oven can turn out some deliciously tender, juicy pork ribs too. And the same rule applies: low and slow.

Treat the ribs right after they’re cooked too. That means a bold, flavor-loaded homemade barbecue sauce made with simple ingredients that cooks in about 15 minutes. Here, the sauce is sweet, spicy, and very rich. And very easy.

Now about those ribs: If you’re new to preparing baby-back ribs, be aware that there’s a thin white membrane on the underside that needs to be removed before the ribs are cooked, whether you’re grilling, smoking, or roasting them. Left on, the membrane can turn tough and make the ribs chewy instead of tender.

Sometimes the butcher at your local meat shop will score the membrane by making slashes in it through the length of the rack. This can help get you started, but it isn’t always necessary (or easier) to start with the score line in the middle of the ribs. Instead, use a sharp paring knife to gently scrape the top corner of the underside and pull the membrane away as you scrape. Note: It may not tear off in one nice, easy piece (think wallpaper).

Rib rack 
Pull off membrane 
Ready for spice rub
One more thing: Spice rubs matter, so don’t skip this stage when preparing the ribs. The aromatic spiciness cooks into the meat and adds unbeatable flavor. Remember that the rub needs time to work into the ribs before the cooking begins, so build in time to let them sit in the fridge for at least three hours. Overnight, even better.

Serves 2-3

For the Ribs
  • 1 tsp dried red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/2-lb-rack baby-back ribs, halved in the middle, membrane removed
Spice Rub Mixture
For the Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 red Thai chile, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red or white onion
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • sea salt
Spice Rub Mixture
For the Ribs
  1. Combine the chile flakes and cayenne, chile, and garlic powders in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Rub the spice mixture all over the ribs, covering both top and underside. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours (or overnight).
  3. Preheat the oven to 225° F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  4. Place the ribs meat side-up on the baking sheet and cover with foil. Roast 2 hours. Turn the ribs meat side-down and re-cover the pan. Continue roasting 1 hour. Remove the cover and turn the ribs meat side-up again.
  5. Baste generously with barbecue sauce (recipe follows) and continue roasting, uncovered, until the ribs are very tender 20-30 minutes longer, adding more sauce as desired while the ribs finish.
  6. Transfer the rib racks to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before cutting into individual ribs.
Spice-Rubbed Ribs 
After 2 Hours 
Turn Meat-Side Down 
After 3 Hours 
Slow-Roasted Ribs
Serve any leftover sauce alongside, if desired.

Slow-Roasted Baby-Back Ribs with Spicy Honey-Barbecue Sauce
For the Sauce
  1. Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic, chipotle and Thai chiles, and onion and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to medium and add the ketchup and next 5 ingredients (through mustard) and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until slightly thickened, 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and let stand while the ribs finish. (Or, make the sauce a day ahead, cover and refrigerate overnight, and bring to room temperature before using.)
Garlic Mixture Beginning to Cook
Sauce Beginning to Cook
Cooked Sauce 
Spicy Honey-Barbecue Sauce

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