Recipe: Fourth of July 'Barbecued' Baby Back Ribs - a democratic recipe for those who don't have a wood-burning pit
Peggy Lampman | Contributor
If you’re a cook wondering if you should have smoked that last batch of ribs over hickory and white oak instead of mesquite, skip this article.
Still reading? Then don’t say I didn’t warn you. The following is a no-smoke recipe for barbecued pork ribs that begins with simmering the ribs in dark beer and ginger ale and then finishing them in the oven.
Blasphemy, you say? Well, I’d bet you’d ask for seconds after finishing a slab of these babies. What’s with that red flush creeping up your collar? Now hold on a minute — don’t take offense. Because I do agree with you in concept: Authentic barbecue insists upon fire and smoke.
And I, like you, adore the texture, smoke and mouth-watering chew of ribs that have been lovingly tended to for hours in a wood burning pit. Indeed, I’ve penned hundreds of words rhapsodizing on the subject.
But what if you don’t have access to a pit? What if you don't own a charcoal grill or smoker? Or what if you simply don't have the time to fuss with hardwood and a fire for hours on end? Must you be denied a tender, sticky-sweet, fall-off-the-bone rack of ribs on the Fourth of July? The answer is a resounding no.
I present to you a democratic, all-American recipe that's non-exclusive, so that everyone, including non-pit-masters, may enjoy ribs on the Fourth of July.
One of the glories of this simple recipe is that the sauce may be made up to 4 days in advance, and the ribs may be made the day prior to serving. Actually I prefer making them ahead. The tangy, sugar-bomb sauce with a prickle of heat permeates the meat, which is redolent with dark chocolate notes lent by the ale and piquant ginger from the soda.
After removing the ribs from the fridge, I let them come to room temperature. Before reheating, I brush a bit of extra sauce over them, then finish with a final char under the broiler or on a grill. (This step is not essential, but it could be staged to time when your guests arrive: Theatrically char them in a pyrotechnic charade of having spent hours behind the grill.)
Peggy Lampman | Contributor
I purchased all ingredients for the following recipe at Plum Market. Chef Rebecca Wauldron, director of prepared foods at Plum, tells me the Niman Ranch baby backs I selected were from hogs raised in a "natural, responsible" manner, which yields the most flavorful and tender meat.
If you don't have time to fuss with this simple preparation, Plum sells ready-made Niman Ranch and Duroc baby backs in the deli. I've also seen ready-to-reheat ribs sold around town, for instance, at Back Alley Gourmet, Whole Foods and Busch's.
This holiday, celebrate democracy with ribs for the people. Happy Fourth!
Fourth of July 'Barbecued' Baby Back Ribs
Yield: 4-6 servings
Simmer and bake time for ribs:1 hour and 45 minutes
Active time (including time to make sauce): 25 minutes
Time to simmer sauce: 30-45 minutes
Ingredients for Ribs:
1 (2-liter) bottle ginger ale, such as Michigan-produced Vernor's
22 ounces dark ale or beer, such as Michigan-produced Dragon's Milk
5 pounds bone-in baby back pork ribs, cut into 8 portions
*Easy recipe follows, or use your own preferred recipe or bottled brand.
Directions for Ribs:
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, bring ginger ale and ale or beer to a boil. With tongs, carefully place ribs in liquid, then reduce heat. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard initial accumulated foam.
2. Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until ribs can be easily pricked with a fork but are not falling apart. Remove from heat and, if time allows, let ribs come to room temperature in brew to absorb additional flavor.
3. Remove ribs from liquid, place on a foil-lined baking sheet, and coat both sides of ribs in preferred barbecue sauce. (After this step, ribs may be covered with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance. Bring to room temperature and brush with additional sauce before reheating.)
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and, if desired, prepare your grill to medium-high heat. Bake ribs on the center rack of oven 12 minutes, or until hot. If desired, transfer the ribs to the grill or turn broiler on and cook long enough to char. Serve immediately.
Ingredients for Sauce:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup tomato ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow, ball-park style mustard
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 ounces (1/2 can) Coca-Cola
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne or hot sauce
Recipe for Sauce:
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Saute garlic in butter, stirring, 2 minutes.
2. Stir in ketchup, mustard, sugar, Worcestershire, cola and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or hot sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally, about 30-45 minutes. Add additional cayenne or hot sauce to taste. (May be made up to 4 days in advance.)