Friday, September 10, 2010

Finger Lickin’ Fantastic

I always thought that making baby back ribs at home was too much work. You rub, you wait. You boil, you wait. You smoke…you guessed it, you wait. After finally glazing, you’re ready to eat. Think again! “Rib experts” say that you should let the ribs sit for 30 minutes (30 minutes?!?) under foil to let them rest.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot of trouble? Well, as I’ve recently learned, it is more than worth it…

If I had known that making ribs at home was this easy AND produced some of the best ribs I’ve had in a long time, the swine population might be in danger. Let me rephrase: the “extra-meaty” swine population might be in danger. 

That’s what I’ve been buying…”extra-meaty” baby back pork ribs. Now I’m sure there is someone out there who would disagree, but I can’t imagine why you would want NON-extra-meaty. If extra-meaty is an option, it seems to me that should be your choice. But I’m no expert, and clearly they sell the not-so-meaty variety for a reason. 

So…once you have your fully-meaty ribs, what do you do with them? The first few racks we tried, we followed recipes and ended up with good results. They were all eaten with vigor…always a good sign. Now we felt ready to attempt our own version, using the tips and tricks we’d learned previously. 

(Some recipes suggest boiling the ribs before grilling. We skipped this step, and don’t think the ribs suffered at all.) 

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs 

Okay, so here’s the rub. We went through the spice rack picking every spice we thought we might want in our rub. Then we went back through and picked out complementing flavors. Here’s what we ended up with: 

Equal parts salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, ground mustard, chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground chipotle pepper, and cinnamon. 

After trimming the ribs and removing the membrane from the underside (Andy uses a screwdriver per a recommendation and it seems to do the trick nicely), sprinkle the spice mixture generously over both sides of the ribs and rub in. Let sit overnight. (Disclaimer: There is still a lot of waiting…it’s just not as much trouble as I thought it would be.) 

Next…a sauce. After trying some very spicy finishing glazes, we decided on a tangier, sweeter sauce, which lets the spice from the rub come through. Of course, being total spicy-food addicts, we ended up with a little kick in the sauce after all. 

Unfortunately, I’m not sure on definite quantities here, but these are the ingredients: 

1 can tomato paste
cider vinegar
a couple handfuls of brown sugar
clove of minced garlic
onion powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper 

Whisk everything together and bring to a simmer. Let simmer and reduce to a consistency you like. (We made ours on the thinner side.) 

After the ribs sit overnight with the rub, put them meat side up on grill (indirect heat at 325 degrees). You can do the same in the oven. Time varies depending on weight, but for our 2.5 pound rack, it was 1 hour 45 minutes total. When there are 15 minutes left on the timer, glaze both sides of the rack with the sauce, starting with the rib side, and ending with the meaty side. Close the grill again and let the ribs finish. (You can tell when the ribs are close to being done when the meat starts pulling up from the bones.) 

Transfer the ribs onto a baking sheet and cover with foil for 30 minutes, ensuring very tender meat. At this point, Andy usually stares at the timer willing it to go faster. 

When ready to serve, cut between each bone. Serve with extra sauce on the side for dipping. 

So, yes…these do take a bit of time. But most of it is inactive, and what you end up with is a tender, juicy, sweet and spicy rack of extra-meaty baby back ribs. You’ll think back to the last time you had ribs at a BBQ joint and think, oh yeah…I’ve got those beat, and at a fraction of the cost!


  1. I made spareribs at home in the oven a few weeks back...simple and delish! These look FAB!!

  2. oooo, how delicious!

  3. YUMMMM - I love ribs. Made Alton Brown's a couple of months back and still wish I had leftovers in the freezer :-) Kate @kateiscooking

  4. I really ought to not read these things when I'm hungry and there's little to eat in my fridge. LOL. This just made me even hungrier. My fiance would love the extra spicy kick and depending on my mood, I would too.

    Looks delish. And I agree, I'd want extra-meaty too. What's the point of eating ribs if they're not meaty? I want to get messy when I eat ribs thank ya much!

  5. Oooh these sound so great! I've never attempted making ribs at home, but it doesn't sound too hard. Oh, and I must say that the spice rub sounds really yummy. :)

  6. Great post! We don't make ribs at home very often, but you may have just inspired me, thanks for sharing!

  7. I have never made ribs at home - these look both delicious and sound do-able! The waiting doesn't bother me - I can think of many things to do while waiting, like setting up a hosing down station for the after rib clean up mayhem (some us really get into our ribs . . . )! I love that you included an "after" picture of the rib bones! Cheers, Michelle

  8. I do not eat meat, but these look perfect :)