Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ribs and Greens

Here's all the fixings for a mighty weekend feast!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs


  • 2 full racks of baby back pork ribs, weighing between 3 and 4 lbs
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
Dry Rub
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground from whole seeds would be best)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika would also be OK)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne or chipotle chile powder (1/2 tsp if you don't like heat - wimp!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional - leave it out for mild sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preparation - 4 to 24 Hours Before Cooking

Combine all rub ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Rinse the ribs under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place each rack on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle ribs with salt, putting about twice as much on the meat side as you do the bony side. Liberally apply the spice rub to the ribs (you won't use it all this time - store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool, dark place), focusing on the meaty side of the rack and patting it on to ensure good adhesion. Wrap the foil up around the ribs, meat side down, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours on a sheet pan (to catch drips).

Cooking - 3 to 6 Hours
Whisk together all sauce ingredients in a medium bowl until integrated together. At this point you have a few choices:

Water Smoker Method
If you have a water smoker, you are in good shape as this is the best way to cook ribs. Get the smoker going with your desired wood, between 200-250 degrees. Mix the sauce with 1/2 gallon of boiling water and put it in the smoker's water pan. Smoke the ribs for 3 hours, meat side up, adding hot coals and/or wood as needed. After 1 hour, check the water pan every 1/2 hour, adding hot water as needed to keep the sauce liquid and prevent burning/scorching.

Hot Smoker Method
If you have a regular hot smoker you can remove the ribs from their foil pouches and smoke for 1-2 hours (depending on how smokey you like the ribs). However, you will need to braise the ribs in the oven for a couple of hours afterwards. If you totally cook the ribs in a hot smoker, they will be tough and leathery - dry heat just cannot duplicate the process that breaks down collagen into gelatin and creates the lip-smacking goodness that makes ribs so tasty. So after smoking the ribs, proceed to the oven braise method.

Oven Braise Method
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Unwrap one end of the aluminum foil packets (or re-wrap the ribs if joining us from hot smoking) and pour half the sauce into each. Tilt the open end up to allow the sauce to percolate through the ribs. Re-seal the foil and put in the oven (still on the sheet pan) for 2 1/2 hours. Remove ribs from oven and drain the sauce out of the packets (this is most easily accomplished by suspending the packets over a large mixing bowl and cutting holes in the middle where the ribs hang lowest). Transfer the sauce to a medium saucepan and boil for 5-10 minutes, until thickened. Activate the broiler. Leaving the ribs on the pan, unwrap the pouches and brush on the sauce. Broil the ribs until the sauce slightly caramelizes, adding a second coat of sauce (if desired). Serve with remaining sauce.

Hearty Green Saute


  • 1 lb hearty greens (such as kale, collard greens, or swiss chard), washed, trimmed of thick stems/ribs, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed/minced fine
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • fresh ground pepper
Melt butter (or heat oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, and salt. Saute until the carrots start to soften and the onions start to brown. Add the greens and saute until they start to wilt. Add garlic and continue to saute for another 90 seconds. Add the chicken broth. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes, or until the broth is slightly thickened and the greens are as tender as you like them (be careful - overcooking will make the greens discolored, mushy, and generally unappealing). Stir in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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