Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Baked BBQ Baby Back Ribs

I used to make a stop at Tony Roma’s, just for their baby back ribs. Juicy, succulent, meat falling off the bone. With just the right hint of smokiness and sweetness. Enjoyed together with their signature coleslaw and corn, it was bbq heaven. While beef ribs are easily available where I live, I used to salivate at the thought of baby backs, which weren’t so readily available. So I was delighted when I saw them at the butchers, and trawled through recipes to find one that would do them justice.

Now I don’t have a outdoor barbecue grill, living as I do in an apartment. So I had to find a recipe that would allow me to bake the ribs in the oven instead, and come as close as possible to achieving that smoky, bbq flavor. I did find that using smoked cumin instead of regular cumin boosts the flavor. And something called liquid smoke (that comes in a bottle!) also enhances that bbq taste. The recipe calls for a dry rub as well as a bbq sauce - I think that the combination of the two is what gives the ribs their intense flavor. The slow cooking time at a relatively low temperature is what keeps the meat really tender and moist. Constantly brushing it with the bbq sauce also helps.

I’ve adapted the recipe to my taste, so I suggest that you experiment with it yourself and come up with your own version of it. Depending on how many racks of ribs and how large they are, you may not need to use all of the dry rub, so you can save what's remaining in a tightly sealed container and store it in the fridge for another time. You probably only need about 1 cup of the BBQ sauce to brush over the meat during baking, so reserve the other cup to serve with the ribs later.  Here I use baby backs, but it would be just as delicious on beef ribs or even chicken.

Baked Baby Back Ribs

2 racks of baby back ribs

Dry Rub
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp smoked cumin (or just plain cumin)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp chilli powder

BBQ Sauce ( makes 2 cups)
2 cups ketchup

1 small onion, minced

1 tbsp minced fresh garlic

4 cups water

1 cup cider vinegar

2 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp honey

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tbsp chilli powder

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 -2 tsp liquid smoke (to taste, optional)

black pepper

1.    Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
2.    Mix white sugar, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, cumin, dry mustard, cayenne pepper and chilli powder in a small bowl until combined.
3.    Place ribs meat-side down on aluminum foil. Prick back of rib rack several times with a knife.
4.    Generously apply coating of dry rub to all sides of rib rack.
5.    With rib rack meat-side down, fold foil around it to create a tight seal. Transfer to sheet pan.
6.    Bake in preheated oven until tender and cooked through, about 2 hours. Remove and cool 15 minutes.
7.    Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
8.    Open foil, drain and discard any accumulated juices and fat. Brush bbq sauce on all sides of rack.
9.    Place rack meat-side up and return to oven, leaving foil open. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from  oven, and brush another layer of bbq sauce on meat-side only. Repeat baking and brushing with sauce 4 more times, for a total of 50 minutes baking time.
10.    Cut rack into individual rib segments and serve with more bbq sauce.

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