Barbecued ribs are about as American as apple pie. But despite their popularity, ribs are one of those controversial foods where everyone thinks their version is the best with other simply falling short of being the real deal. Often your preference for rib style is dependent upon which part of the country you hail from. Ribs can be marinated in either a tomato or vinegar based sauce or it may be coated with a spicy dry rub. Or maybe you start with a dry rub and move onto basting the meat with a sauce as it cooks slowly over a grill. But really, each method will give you different flavor profiles but all –in my opinion– are equally delicious. All you have to do is think outside of the box.
And thinking outside of the box is exactly what I’ve done with this recipe that is based on one found on the Food 52 website. Not only have I skipped the vinegar or tomato argument instead opting for a sauce made of local Belgian ingredients-dark ale and locally produced honey but I’ve foregone the grill all together. Thats right, I’ve made delicious and melt in your mouth ribs right in the oven. There really isn’t a better way to enjoy a traditionally summer time treat in the dead of winter. But don’t just take my word for how delicious these ribs are; try them for yourself. You just might want to double the recipe since they are that good.
BEER & HONEY BABY BACK RIBS
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 pounds baby back ribs, trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/3 cup honey
12 ounces dark ale
1 bay leaf
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Generously season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Arrange the ribs in a single layer on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet.
- Pour the oil into a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for five minutes or until the onion has begun to caramelize.
- Stir in the mustard, honey, beer and bay leaf. Cook until the mixture is heated through.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and brush it over the ribs, pouring and additional sauce over the top of the ribs.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the ribs are fork tender and cooked through.
- Allow the ribs to cook for 10 minutes before slicing and serving topped with any sauce that has accumulated in the pan.
Some people grill year around–I fall into that camp–but come spring my grill really begins to work overtime. In fact, after a long winter of entertaining entirely inside I love nothing more than inviting friends over, firing up the grill and hosting a backyard bar-b-que. This is especially fun to do here in Europe where the tradition of grilling outside is quite different than it is in America. One of the first purchases we made when we moved into our new house last year was a new grill and it quickly became the focal point of most of our get togethers with new friends. To friends whose outdoor cooking experience was mainly over wood or charcoal, our propane fueled contraption was just so novel and well, so American.
For me, the biggest challenge when grilling for a crowd is space and timing. As large as our grill is there is limited surface area for cooking and some foods simply need to be eaten the minute they are removed from the flames. So what does one cook for a crowd that tastes just as good the minute it is done cooking as well as after sitting awhile? Ribs, that’s what!
This recipe is courtesy of From Away but I’ve taken the liberty of cooking them outside on the grill rather than in the oven. (The ribs are tasty either way but I suspect grilling in Maine in the middle of the winter holds little attraction for these food bloggers). The ribs need to be prepared ahead of time then allowed to sit overnight–or even longer–making them the perfect do ahead dish for entertaining. After your guests have arrived simply fire up the grill, let them all gather around and grill away.
CHINESE SPARE RIBS
2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 full rack St. Louis-style spareribs
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
- Sprinkle five spice powder over ribs, and rub spice into the meat until evenly coated.
- In two gallon-sized Ziplock bags, combine hoisin sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, honey, and garlic. Squeeze the bag a few times to mix ingredients.
- Add ribs and mix until evenly coated. Seal bag, transfer to refrigerator, and let ribs marinate overnight, or up to three days.
- When ready to cook, preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove the ribs from the bag and reserve the marinade.
- Place the two racks of ribs on the grill and cook, turning often until the ribs are cooked through, for about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on their meatiness. Baste the ribs with additional marinade with each turn.
- When the meat is done, remove the ribs from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into individual ribs and serving.