Friday, August 19, 2011

BBQ Baby Back Ribs with Bourbon-Bacon Sauce

Just by looking at the calendar, I'm feeling rushed to grill all those ideas I had, to actually get a list of the ingredients on paper, go buy them, and get that thought cooked and plated for human consumption.  Even though I've gone through multiple gas tanks (and some charcoal) this year, there's plenty of protein and veg still lined up wanting on the outdoor cooker.  My favorite so far? Shitty pictures, so you didn't get to see the grilled mussels- complete with garlic, chili pepper, white wine butter sauce.  It is coming to the end of summer, and the tomatoes in a few weeks will attest to that deliciously.  No worries, you needn't be crying in your BLT's with red wine caramelized onion mayo, there are many weeks of grilling left, throughout the fall and sometimes here and there in winter, but it's usually shut down for a couple months.  What has been your favorite grilled meal so far this summer?  What's left on your to-grill list?

Yes it takes a few hours to make your own ribs at home, but it's not very difficult.  The hardest part might be finding the right indirect set up with your grill to operate in the proper temperature range.  After that it's just low and slow, like Ad-Rock did say.  This is barbecue, which is not cooking hot dogs or burgers on a grill outside.  That's just grilling, which is fine- but every now and then you need some time to boost the testosterone level a bit and spend some quality time with your grill.  It's good easy chillin, fire up some tunes and break out a cold beverage, sit your ass down and relax.

If you've never smoke-grilled ribs at home, here's the deal-
1. Remove the membrane from the back by getting your paring knife in there to get under, then use mostly hands to tear it off- you want to get the dry rub in there, have some fat melt out while cooking, and not chew on plastic when they're done
2. Dry Rub- for at least 2 hours, overnight is better
3. Mop- every 30-45 minutes during cooking (depending on length, see below) of apple cider vinegar, can be seasoned a bit too with any of the above spices
4. Low and slow
5. Sauce- during the last 30 minutes, twice
6. Rest, slice, pass with reserved sauce
7. Napkins, perhaps a moist towelette with lemon slice

You can make the sauce beforehand or while the ribs are smoking, and it will keep for days in the fridge or a few months in the frozen section.  

BBQ Baby Back Ribs with Bourbon-Bacon Sauce
4 servings

2.5 TB hot smoked paprika
2 TB kosher salt
1 TB black pepper
2 TB garlic powder
1 TB onion powder
2 ts cayenne pepper
1 TB oregano, dried
1 TB thyme, dried

4 strips good bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 medium red onion, diced (bout 1/2 C)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 C ketchup
1/2 C cider vinegar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C Worcestershire
3 TB bourbon
2 TB dark molasses
2 ts chili powder
1.5 ts hot smoked paprika
1 ts mustard powder

In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat until rendered and crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and add the onion, cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir for thirty seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients, whisking to combine.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes, then let sit off heat to continue thickening.  

3-4 lbs baby back pork ribs
3-4 C wood chips, apple or hickory, smoking box or aluminum foil poked with holes

For the ultimate low and slow, you want 235-245F for about 5 hrs, until the meat has pulled back from the ends and is just about falling off the bone.  If you only have 2 hrs, then you need about 265-275F until nicely tender.

After removing the membrane from the ribs, apply the rub and then wrap tight in plastic.  Park in the fridge for 2 to 12 hours, the longer the better.  Cut into portions suitable for grilling, letting come to room temp before applying heat. 

Prepare your wood chips by soaking in water for 30 minutes.  Fire up the grill, place the smoker box/aluminum foil with chips over direct heat.  In the indirect zone, you can either use a rib rack or an inverted V-rack, or cook bone side down on the grate.  Depending on your set up, you probably want to rotate the ribs a few times, so each end is exposed to the hotter section.  The chips should barely combust at this low temp, providing a steady, gentle smoke, not a giant cloud of smoke.  Mop, glaze, rest, eat, wipe. 

The smoke penetrates the meat, leaving a nice pink smoke ring-

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