There’s something about the flavor of charred meat that makes our primal instincts kick in. Fire and meat equals wonderful flavors. With summer cooking and grilling ahead, certain dishes capture the essence and enjoyment of summer. Baby back ribs, coated with a caramelized Chinese-inspired barbecue sauce, is one of them. Best served with plenty of napkins.
Adapting Mom’s Recipe
With smoky flavor and a finger-licking barbecue sauce, pork ribs are irresistible. By adapting my mom’s recipe, starting ribs in the oven and finishing them on the grill, you can have delicious, easy to prepare baby back ribs in under an hour and a half.
For folks in some parts of the country barbecue is practically a religion. Doing ribs anyway but “low and slow” on a smoker would be unthinkable. I don’t have a smoker (yet) in my backyard to do the traditional slow-cooked style and not often the hours it may take, but my adapted recipe tastes terrific in a relatively short timeframe. No matter if you have a big oven and grill or a small oven and grill on an apartment balcony, you can make tasty ribs.
Citrus, Lemon, Onion and Spices
My mom started her pork spareribs in an electric skillet. She covered them with thinly sliced onion and lemon and finished them on the grill. For my version, I prefer leaner, baby back ribs and season them with kosher salt, smoked black pepper and granulated garlic. I top the ribs with orange, lemon and onion slices and squeeze on some extra orange juice.
Wrap and Bake
Wrapped in a heavy foil packet and placed on a sheet tray, the ribs bake for about an hour. They come out tender and juicy, ready to be finished on the grill, slathered in barbecue sauce.
As a note, when you unwrap the ribs from the foil there will be delicious juices accumulated. Pour them into a cup and save them in case you need to thin the barbecue sauce.
Chinese-Style Barbecue Sauce
My sauce recipe for ribs is based on Chinese Hoisin sauce. I add orange juice, garlic, ginger, smoked spices, espresso powder and spirits – either dark rum, Bourbon or whiskey. This is a good time to order the smoked spices I’ve mentioned in previous posts, as they add to the smoky flavor. If you don’t have the smoked spices, make the ribs anyway with the regular version of the spices. You can order smoked spices from the Chefs Warehouse and from Savory Spice Shop.
After baking in the oven, finish your ribs on a hot grill over low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Turn your rib racks about every 5-7 minutes, brushing with barbecue sauce. You want a good coating of sauce to caramelize on the ribs. Remove from the grill, slice and enjoy.
How Much to Buy
On quantity, I buy ¾ to 1 pound per person of baby back ribs. It will depend on the size of the appetite and what you are serving along side. Anyway, just enjoy. And be sure to offer plenty of napkins. These really are finger-licking good.