Ribs, or I Wouldn’t Know Them From Adam
I suppose I should apologize for such a silly little attempt at a pun. What can I say, it’s late. (Yes, I know. I’m actually writing this Thursday night. Shocking, indeed.)
But back to ribs and Adam. Or, more to the point, Adam and ribs.
I don’t know Adam, well the famously Biblical one at least. But I do know ribs. I haven’t always known ribs but since marrying Mister Soandso I’ve learned a few things about all things ribby.
Mister Soandso was born in Virginia, and lived for five years in Texas before moving to Minnesota. The good news is he and his family never embraced lutefisk. Instead, they made year treks back to Texas for barbecue. These are some people who know barbecue. Or at least the best places in Texas to roll up your sleeves, tuck a napkin in your shirt, and get your BBQ on.
Fast forward my entrance into his life. I grew up in a world that owned a Webber. It was that thing in the yard where my parents would attempt to create as thick of a carbon coating to the outside of raw meat. Back in the 70s and 80s, the northwest (or at least the parts I frequented) wouldn’t have known a barbecued rib if it smacked it in the face.
But I’ve learned from Mister Soandso a few things about ribs. They are the meaty goodness version of chili. Or chicken soup. Or meatloaf. Or whatever other dish you can think of that has as many incarnations as folks making it. The only rule is that it must bear enough likeness to the average example as to be recognized as such.
You follow me?
When one of my writer friends commented on my plan to make ribs, I told Diana Paz that I would share with her my recipe. Which was cruel of me because I approach most things that don’t require a leavener with a rather capricious air. However, I am a woman of my word. So here it is.
Baby Back Ribs
1. Wash and pat dry a rack of ribs. Using a sharp knife, remove the visible fat and membrane covering the bones. (I’ve skipped this step without any issues). If I was a smartie, I would have lined this pan with foil first. But I didn’t. Clean-up will be interesting.
2. Combine seasoning salt, about 7 drops of liquid smoke, and a good amount of garlic. Rub over the meaty side of the ribs. Please note: if it were summer and I was using my Traeger, I would skip the liquid smoke. But it was raining when I started this project, so into the oven these were going. If I had measured, I’d probably be able to say I used about 2 tablespoons of seasoning salt. But, of course, I didn’t. Adjust to meet your needs and for the size of your rack. (snerk)
3. Let rest/come to room temperature. This is important. Too many folks cook cold meat. This never works like you think it should. Since these ribs will be baked, it’s not a major deal breaker, but you might as well get into the habit because it will be summer again one day and these babies will be going on the grill then. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees while you’re waiting.
4. Pour about 16 ounces of either beer or apple juice into the pan and cover it with foil. These ribs are baked until they are ready to fall off the bone and you need some moisture to make that process work. Either beer or apple juice work well – just use a beer you wouldn’t mind drinking. The apple juice won’t change the flavor although some folks might swear they taste a sweetness. They are just trying to sound smart. Cover with foil and carefully put onto the middle rack in your preheated oven.
5. Bake for about 2-3 hours or until the meat reads about 160 degrees or the meat looks pretty close to done.
6. Now is when I get a little playful with my ribs. Cover the cooked ribs with a nice coating of plain yellow mustard. Don’t be insane about the process, but put on enough mustard so the rub will stick. In this case, the rub was one that Mister Soandso whipped up last summer. You can Google a pork rub – as long is it has a brown sugar base, it will look like this one. I sprinkled on a pretty good coating of the rub — mostly because I wanted my container back. But the fact is, this is going to get melty/crispy/yummy and you don’t want to skimp. Alternatively, you could just put a thick layer of your favorite barbecue sauce on the ribs.
7. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the rub turns sugary. If the rub just doesn’t want to cooperate, you can drizzle some pan drippings over it, recover with the foil, or decide it looks fine how it is.
8. I top with a bit more barbecue sauce right before serving because Littlest really likes barbecue sauce. Let rest for a few minutes, slice into single or double rib servings, and serve. In the summer, I serve with classic summer sides (corn on the cob, green salad, potato salad, et cetera). But on this rainy northwestern day, I served up some sautéed kale and mashed potatoes.
Alrighty then. I told Diana this would work. I suppose I should have paid better attention to measurements and such things. But really, long and low heat, some liquid to keep it moist and some seasonings…how can anyone go wrong?
Even if they don’t know a rib recipe from Adam.