We invited some American friends for dinner this weekend and so as I was browsing the meat aisle of the grocery store I looked for something typically American. And there, in the bio (organic to you) section, I saw a couple of slabs of pork ribs. And I decided to be brave and pick them up.
Although I like ribs well enough once in a while and usually in the summer when I'm in Chicago, it's not something I'm often tempted to make myself. They are awfully fatty and can sometimes be tough, so until now I've always been content to leave the cooking of them to the experts. But life is about learning new things and so I decided it was time to crack the mystery.
Initially, I searched epicurious for information. And I quickly decided I needed more expert information. And so I did what I should have done in the first place, and I turned to our friend Dr. Biggles of MeatHenge. And a quick search of his archives resulted in finding this post, which had a perfect summary of how to deal with ribs and how to construct with love the perfect barbecue sauce.
Armed with expert advice and information, I was finally ready to make my own barbecue ribs.
By following Dr. Biggle's rough outline of how to construct a barbecue sauce, I think I came up with a very tasty one. I put in generous amounts of piment d'espelette as I know that my main Critic likes his food to have an edge.
However, I must admit that at a critical moment (baby's bedtime) I had to hand over the cooking of my little ribs and so they were not quite as tender and lovingly dipped as they could have been. Dr. Biggles recommends frequent dipping of the ribs in the sauce and I'm afraid I forgot to pass this information along to the sous-chef as I hurried downstairs with the baby. By the time I came back, he was serving and it was too late. I passed the leftover sauce around the table, but the meat would have been tenderer and more flavorful if I'd only been there to look over them. Oh well, it can't turn out perfect every time and they were still very tasty.
Dr. Biggles' Barbecue Ribs (as interpreted by yours truly)
2/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup rosemary honey
3 Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tbs fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 large juicy clove of garlic, pressed
2 heaping Tbs dried onion
1 1/2 tsp piment d'espelette (substitute cayenne or chili pepper if necessary)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
For the dry rub:
2 small slabs of ribs
First mix together the barbecue sauce ingredients and set it aside for a while (Dr. B. suggests two hours as a rough guide) so that the flavors can mingle.
Next, sprinkle the ribs with the dry rub elements. I didn't measure: just sprinkle to cover. You can now either cover the pork and put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or just leave it out if you are going to be grilling soon.
When the meat is at room temperature and the grill is medium hot, wrap the meat in tin foil and put it on the grill. Cook for about 45 minutes this way, so that it stays moist and the spices permeate the meat.
Uncover the meat and slather it with barbecue sauce. Place it in a cool(er) part of the grill; you want the sugar in the glaze to caramelize but not char. Well, not much anyway. After 15 minutes or so, slather again. (Do as I say, not as I do, that's the motto here at TMC sometimes...) Keep doing this until you are out of sauce or out of patience or both.
Be kind to your guests and cut the ribs into manageable chunks before you bring them to the table. Otherwise they will sit there getting cold because no one dares to cut them up. Oh, and serve with a lot of damp towlettes and cold beer. And maybe some really good potato salad. And you'll be in hog heaven...