Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

I have always loved the taste of  ribs, but they were often too greasy and/or too spicy for me—until I found the ribs at Millbrook Cafe. I asked chef/owner Alex to tell me where he bought such juicy but not fatty ribs. He smiled his Cheshire Cat smile and explained that it was not where he bought them that mattered but what he did with them. I got his secret out of him and after successfully trying it myself, I am sharing it with you today.


½ rack of baby back ribs per person

For the Marinade/Sauce:
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce/marinade
1 cup A1 Steak Sauce (optional)
1 cup ketchup (optional)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)

Alex's secret is that he steams the ribs the day before and leaves them overnight before putting them in the marinade. So, the day before I was to serve the ribs, I preheated the oven to 350º F. I removed the thin membrane from the back side of the ribs and trimmed off excess fat. I then cut the racks in half and wrapped each of them in cheesecloth, tying bulky knots on both sides of the cloth. When I placed them standing up on the rack in a roasting pan, there was some space in between them, allowing the heat and steam to penetrate both sides of each rib. I added an inch or two of water at the bottom of the pan. (Water should not touch the meat.) I covered the pan with aluminum foil and put it in the oven for two hours, periodically adding a bit of water so it never went dry but the water did not touch the ribs. After two hours I removed the pan from the oven and allowed it to cool before placing it in the refrigerator (still with the aluminum foil) and leaving it overnight. The next day I was both pleased and aghast to find nearly an inch of fat floating in the water at the bottom of the pan. I removed the cooked ribs and set about to scrape off the fat and clean the pan (clearly the most unpleasant part of the process.) I was, however, very happy to see the fat go into the garbage and not into my body.

The Marinade
You can, of course,  just spread whatever BBQ sauce you love on the ribs, but I prefer to add some A1 sauce, ketchup, mustard and vinegar, each a bit at a time, and tasting how each addition affects the overall flavor until I reach the harmony that pleases my palate. I like the complexity of tangy flavors without it becoming too spicy or too sweet. I took half of the sauce and covered the ribs on both sides with it and reserved the rest of the sauce for later. One hour before serving, I reheated the ribs in a 250º F oven. Just before serving, I added the rest of the barbecue sauce and put the ribs under the grill (this can also be done on the barbecue), to give it the grilled look and flavor.  

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