February 18, 2003

Baby Back Ribs

or, alternately titled, fancy BBQ. I did enough things different from my typical all-day BBQ that I'm almost willing to call this one special.

I don't normally cook baby back ribs. In a long-slow smoke normal spare ribs almost end up the same, and cost about half as much. But, for shorter cooking times, or smaller groups of people (ie, two), baby backs can be a quick weeknight or half-day affair.

I used my Weber to smoke these, offset from the fire on one side, with a fair amount of smoke from hickory chips. I'd guess the fire was running around 275, or maybe 300 at times, and the ribs stayed on for four hours.

I skinned the ribs first, and rubbed with a basic rub. For the sauce, I made up a vinegar based sauce with standard spices. I then added about a quart of apple juice, 1 small can of tomato sauce, and some honey for sweetness. I kept out darker colored items like molasses, brown sugar, and worchestershire sauce that I normally add to sauces I use for BBQ beef. I let this cook down for about half an hour, and then removed a cup of it to use as a mop for the ribs. To the mop I added half a cup of salad oil. I mopped the ribs about every half an hour after the first hour.

I strained the sauce, returned it to the saucepan, and simmered it down to a medium thickness. Just before serving, I added a quarter of a pound of butter and mounted it in. It cut the sourness perfectly -- it was one of the better "from scratch" BBQ sauces I've made in a while.

As a side, I made a huge batch of Real Caesar Salad. The dressing is very simple:
- 1 egg, raw. Tradditionally supposed to be coddled, but I've found little difference unless making the dressing on the lettuce.
- 1 T worchestershire sauce, more to taste if you wish at the end.
- salt, pepper
- whisk or blend, adding in 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 salad oil until it has thickened a bit. I usually take it up to a light mayonaise consistancy.
- juice of two lemons, which thins it back out to dressing

Toss romain hearts with the dressing, parmasagn cheese, and fresh made garlic croutons. It's a great salad, and except for not tossing the dressing directly on the lettuce and building it up that way, it's "officially correct." Just about nobody makes Caesar Salad this way -- it most often has wine vinegar instead of lemon and omits the egg and/or worchestershire sauce, and adds who knows what else.

I don't mind other items in the salad (really great tomatoes from the garden, chicken, anchovies, thin strips of grilled steak, etc), but generally don't change what's in the dressing -- or if I do, I call it something else.

Picture in the extended entry...

here you can see the neat stack of ribs, the pile of salad (note: greater in size than the amount of meat), and the sauce.

Posted by dowdy at February 18, 2003 08:12 AM