Who Needs Fireworks?
June 30, 2008
I really, really hope that I’m getting this to you in time. Please tell me you haven’t planned a Fourth of July menu yet. Or that, if you have, you’re at least open to being persuaded otherwise. Or that you have the sides all picked out and a bevy of desserts all lined up, but you just don’t know what will anchor the feast that will accompany your fireworks gawking, parade going, sun basking and cold beer sipping. Because have I got the recipe for you.
I try to avoid hyperbole on this site because I know you might grow tired of me and soon you’d just roll your eyes, oh-brothering your way on to the next food blog in your reader. So I try to contain myself most of the time, saving up my over-the-top oohs and ahhs for the really, really special recipes.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
So after that rather long-winded introduction, let me put it simply: you must make these ribs. If you think you have a ribs recipe that is stupendous (like I did) or if you think you don’t like ribs, I hate to break it to you, but these are better and yes you do.
And they have introduced me to my new favorite cooking ingredient: bourbon. With it’s sultry, caramel fragrance, it lured me right in (not to mention the very cool red wax cloak of the brand we had on hand; which reminds me: Seth, don’t worry. There’s plenty left for your next visit, so please do come back soon.). It will be returning to recipes on this site very soon.
The bourbon, along with a pantry shelf’s worth of other ingredients—every single one of which I happen to love—make up the glaze, which is complex and sticky and delicious, but it lets the meat shine too. And the meat? Well, it’s treated to a two hour bake in a foil packet flooded with pineapple juice, before it’s quickly grilled off and treated to repeated mops of the bourbon glaze. After all this, the meat slips right off the bones, all succulent, moist shreds, edged with a sweet crunch.
I think a slab or two of these ribs would make a fantastic centerpiece to your Fourth of July barbecue. Or your dinner tonight, for that matter—if you’ve got a few hours (most of them inactive) to spend making dinner. I for one can’t wait to make them again. In fact, between bites, that’s all Kevin and I could discuss: when would we make these next. They are that good. Here’s the proof (Kevin’s plate):
Bourbon-Glazed Baby Back Ribs
5 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon plum sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 2 1/4- to 2 1/2-pound racks baby back pork ribs
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
Whisk first 11 ingredients in small bowl.
Do ahead: Glaze can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place long sheet of heavy-duty foil on each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Sprinkle rib racks on all sides with salt and pepper. Place 1 rib rack on each foil sheet. Fold up sides of each foil sheet around rib rack to form boat-like shape. Pour 1/2 cup pineapple juice over each rib rack. Fold up foil to seal packets. Bake until ribs are tender, about 2 hours.* Remove ribs from foil packets. Transfer to roasting pan; pour any juices from foil over and cool.
Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Cut each rib rack in half. Grill until browned, brushing frequently with glaze and turning often, about 10 minutes. Cut racks between bones into ribs.
* The original recipe calls for baking the ribs for 1 hour, but Epicurious commenters suggested 2 hours. I listened.