01 December 2007

Red Hot Ribs

Red Hot Ribs (with title)
I was kidding again with Graeme that people who don't like spicy food are no good in bed. I suppose that's just one of those things chili fiends say to taunt those with sensitive tongues. I really have no way of telling. Maybe someone can take a poll. In any case, you can hypothesize all you want on my "abilities" (or not), but I am madly in love with spicy food. I don't, however, have a chili fetish. I acknowledge that sometimes food can have so much spice that you can no longer pay attention to any flavor (often, it will taste metallic). This is not one of those dishes, though you may be fooled by the amount of spicy things that go into it. My spice rack is now full off all sorts of heat enhancers: cayenne, Tabasco, pepper flakes, paprika, Sichuan peppers, dried peppers, and Shichimi Togarashi, so I'm always looking for new ways to use them.
Ribs before grilling
This is a pretty straightforward recipe, and I was pleasantly surprised on how tender the ribs came out. I was never in doubt on how flavorful it was going to be, however. I daresay it's a perfect way to warm up your insides when it's raining out, if you're not a soup person. It's patterned after the "Top Secret" recipes for Tony Roma's ribs, so if you're one of those people who think good old-fashioned ribs are crass, oh my God, you're on the wrong website.
These baby back pork ribs cost P175 per kilo ($4 or £1.80). For some reason they still all have the vertebral bodies, which is weird because I've never seen them still intact in restaurants, and they interfere with lying the ribs flat on one of the sides. So I have triangular ribs.

Red Hot Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup (300g) tomato ketchup

  • 1 cup (240g) vinegar (I used a combination of red wine and cider vinegar)

  • 1/2 cup (150g) dark corn syrup

  • 2 tablespoons molasses

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

  • 1 medium onion, diced very fine

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Combine all of the ingredients very well in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Let it come to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature before using as marinade.

Red Hot Ribs

1.6-1.8kg (4 lbs) baby back pork ribs (probably 2 full racks)

Have the butcher cut each full rack into 2 half-racks of about 4-6 ribs per piece to make them more manageable. You'll get 4 half-racks in all. Cut out a piece of foil for each half-rack about 6 inches longer than the meat. Coat each rack completely with barbecue sauce ideally 24 hours before cooking and wrap each piece in foil completely. Leave in the refrigerator until cooking time.

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Lay each of the wrapped ribs on one of the oven racks, and place a sheet pan on the oven rack underneath to catch any drippings (just to save you time cleaning the oven). Bake the ribs for 2-2.5 hours, or until you see the meat shrink back from the cut end of the rib by about 1/2 inch, as seen in the picture above.

Preheat the grill to high (you shouldn't be able to stand hovering your hand over it for 10 seconds). Unwrap the ribs and coat each with more barbecue sauce liberally (you needn't worry about cross-contamination at this point as the ribs are already cooked through). Grill each rack for 2-4 minutes per side, or until you see spots of charred sauce.

Heat the remaining barbecue sauce through and serve with the ribs. Excellent.

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