Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ribs and summer

My son has always loved barbecued ribs.

Whenever we go to a restaurant that serves ribs, it’s a safe bet that’s what Robert will order.

I’ve only tried to grill ribs at home a few times. They were awful and very tough the first time, but later attempts were better.

Now that Robert has shown such an interest in grilling, it was only natural that we’d be cooking ribs this summer! And when our favorite grocery story had baby back ribs on sale, I bought two racks for our experiment.

I had been reading the two cookbooks from Food Network stars Pat and Gina Neely. The Neely restaurant in Memphis, Tenn., is well known for its ribs, and the Neelys have several rib recipes in their cookbooks and online.

After some research, we decided on their Sweet Cola Ribs recipe, which Robert found on the Food Network website.

The recipe ingredient list, which includes items for both a dry rub and a barbecue sauce, is a little intimidating to me, but it didn’t bother him.

He assembled the dry rub and prepared the ribs early last Thursday morning while everyone else was away from home. It was nice to come home to the wonderful aroma left behind from the rub preparation and ribs in the fridge.

Robert and I approach this whole cooking thing differently. If you read my column regularly, you know that I very seldom follow a recipe; I make changes. Robert follows the directions exactly as written! For instance, I don’t particularly like cumin and would have left it out of the rub. Not him. It went in. And, truthfully, I didn’t notice the taste in the ribs, which is a good thing.

And when it came time to making the sauce, I told him I couldn’t imagine why we would need to simmer it for an hour and 15 minutes. He insisted we do it though because that’s what the recipe said. So while he was out back cooking the ribs for more than 90 minutes on the gas grill, I was inside doing other things and watching the bubbling sauce get thicker and thicker — just as it was supposed to do. So he was right on both counts.

We had a wonderful Thursday evening, going back and forth between the backyard grilling session and the indoor sauce making. The ribs turned out beautifully, I think, and were very tender and delicious. The flavor combination was a winner, and it was obvious that the ribs had both a rub and a sauce.

I look forward to having this recipe again and to seeing what Robert decides to try next!

Sweet Cola Ribs

Sweet Cola Barbecue Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 can cola
  • 1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dry Rub:
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 racks pork spare ribs (about 3 pound each)
For the sauce: In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add oil. Once heated, add the onion and garlic and sautee until tender. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

For the dry rub: Whisk all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. This can be stored up to 6 months in an airtight container.

For the ribs: Rinse and dry ribs. Place on a clean cutting board, pull off the membrane and trim the ribs of excess fat. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with rub. Wrap ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours so flavors can permeate.

Preheat grill to 250F using hickory and charcoal. (We used our gas grill with indirect heat and had very good results.) Set up your grill for indirect heat.

Place ribs, meatier side down, on the grill away from the coals. Close grill cover. Cook the pork ribs for 1 hour 15 minutes; flipping several times for even cook. Coat ribs with Sweet Cola Barbecue Sauce* and cook for another 20 minutes.

*Reserve some of the sauce for dipping when the ribs are served.

Pat and Gina Neely from Food Network website

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