End-of-summer barbecued baby back pork ribs

I love ribs. Like a lot. Growing up, we would always got to a chain restaurant called “Chicago for Ribs”, and I just have fond memories of chowing down on a rack of baby back pork ribs, which were smothered in this smoky, sweet, pretty standard barbecue sauce. But I didn’t care if it was special or common. It was fucking delicious.

Since then, going to school in Boston and working in D.C., I did not have access to those specific kinds of ribs, or at least to my knowledge. So one summer ago, I decided to try tackling baby back ribs myself, and I taught myself how to make them. Additionally, I taught myself how to make a good barbecue sauce to go with them.

My method of cooking the ribs is roasting them with a dry rub first, just to really get the exterior of the meat to a state where the ribs can really soak up the barbecue sauce. I combine together quite a few typical spices that compliment meat, though black garlic is an ingredient unique to this preparation. I love how it has balsamic and molasses-esque notes, and that pairs so well with barbecue flavors in general. For the sauce, I did not actually use ketchup in mine, just because I did not want to. I did, however, use the juices from the ribs, leftover root vegetable stems, honey, mustard, balsamic, and black garlic to create it, just to let you know what to expect. So without further ado, let’s get into the recipe!

For the ribs:
1 rack of baby back pork ribs
3 tablespoons cumin
3 tablespoons oregano
1/4 cup paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves of crushed black garlic
leftover vegetable stems
Barbecue sauce*

Combine your spices and seasonings, san the barbecue sauce, together first. For the ribs, make sure to remove any silverskin that is still attached to the bones, because that muscle will get tough and chewy and will really prevent the actual rib meat from getting any real flavor.

Rub your meat with the spice (there’s no pretty way of putting that, so do what you want with it, twelve year old-minded readers out there), and either wrap in lightly oiled aluminum foil, or parchment paper. If you are using parchment paper, use some butcher’s twine to wrap up the parcel so that it remains sealed. By doing this, you’re essentially boiling the meat first before you actually roast it, just to make sure that the meat is tender and cooked through before you get the exterior all charred and crispy like how you’d want it with barbecue.

Bake the ribs at 250 degrees F on a sheet tray lined with the leftover stems from root vegetables for about 2 hours. Then undo the parcel, reserve any liquids that came out of the meat, and allow the ribs to rest while you can now focus on your sauce.


For the sauce:
The rib juices
Root vegetable stems; roasted
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dijon mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 clove black garlic
water, if necessary

Literally combine everything into a pot and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then you’re good. If you’re asking, “why am I using leftover root vegetable stems, how fucking random is that?”, this recipe came about when I was also preparing a salad using beets and making a carrot dish, and cornbread, so I had leftover vegetable scraps that I decided to use to rest my ribs while I was roasting them, and to help mop up all of that pork fat and carry those flavors over to my sauce. If you don’t want to use or don’t have root vegetable stems, then you can just use mirepoix.

To finish:
Once the sauce is at that thickness, brush it onto the exterior of the ribs, generously. Crank the oven up to 375 F and bake again for another 30 minutes (on the parchment or foil so that you don’t permanently ruin your pan) to finish them off.

Serve while still warm with cornbread!



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