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
Bon Appetit

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.

28 Responses to “Who Needs Fireworks?”

  1. Consider my arm twisted! I’ve been looking for a good ribs recipe that wouldn’t involve me slaving over my smoker all weekend, and this sounds perfect.

  2. Jia Says:

    Those look to die for!

  3. mari Says:

    It was baby back ribs, that brought me back to Maker’s Mark, which had been relegated to the drinks cabinet of my past life. After a tasty reunion, MM now has a permenant spot in my bar and on the menu, when applicable.

  4. Pam Says:

    What a delicious recipe… perfect for the upcoming holiday. Nice job!

  5. Henri Says:

    My dad used to make something a glaze similar to this, but the method used to cook the ribs seems better and this looks to have more zing to it. I’ll be giving it a try come the Fourth! Thanks for the idea.

  6. Gorgeous-looking ribs! Thanks for the recipe: this one I’ll be making for all them doubters.

    I’m bookmarking this one.

  7. Amy: I hope you like them! Let us know how it goes.

    Jia: You are quite right!

    mari: Ha! Is this the slippery slope that I’m about to slide down. Uh-oh.

    Pam: Thank you.

    Henri: Yes, the baking method was interesting—and very effective. I hope you like it! Let us know. Happy 4th.

    eatingclub vancouver: Thank you. I hope you give this a shot. There are rib haters of the world who need to be shown the errors of their ways (I should know; I used to be one — shhhh).

  8. joejhorn Says:

    Love your blog and the pics. I’m really going to have to try your glaze. I just recently published an entry on my blog where I slow grilled some baby back ribs. Would love for you to check it out and give me your opinion.




  9. Chris Says:

    Holy Poggioli these look awesome. I [Heart] Maker’s Mark; I must make these! Thanks for the tips on cooking it longer.

  10. Leigh Says:

    I have been following your cooking adventures for a few weeks now—we definitely like to cook similar things! We are firing up the grill this weekend and after your rib report, I am running out tomorrow to secure myself some ribs for the 4th. Yahoo! I’ll report back on how they turned out.

    Leigh in Baltimore

    P.S. I made your adaptation of Ina’s Orzo Salad for a party last weekend and there was NOTHING LEFT. It was awesome.

  11. Greg Turner Says:

    These look terrific! Fantastic photos, great recipe

  12. Joe: Your ribs look great! Well done.

    Chris: Thanks! I agree: you must make these.

    Leigh: You made my day! What a nice comment. I hope you love the ribs. Happy 4th!

    Greg Turner: Thank you!

  13. Michael Says:

    How would you adapt the recipe to beef ribs? Pork is just one of the flavors I don’t enjoy at all.

  14. Michael: I’ve never made beef ribs, so I can’t comment on how the cooking would translate. But I think the flavors in the sauce would pair well with beef too. In other words, maybe prepare the ribs as you normally do and just swap in this sauce? Do others have thoughts on this?

  15. Skye Says:

    I’m entering these in a family rib competition tomorrow. I’ll let you know how they fare!

  16. I had ribs yesterday! They are always so yummy and these ones look especially good!

  17. These ribs were DELICIOUS. I didn’t have a couple of ingredients and missed out on the full experience, but still … wow. Thanks for sharing the recipe! These are definitely on my go-to list for all future cookouts.

  18. Skye: Yes, please keep me posted! Hope you guys are doing well.

    My Sweet & Saucy: Thanks! You’ll have to give these a try sometime.

    amy: I’m so glad you liked them! Your photos looked great.

  19. I can’t find the chile paste – any tips on where to buy that? These are slated for our menu this week!!

  20. kelly (I’m guessing): I couldn’t find the chile paste at Whole Foods, but I was able to find it at the Jewel (which is our regular grocery store). It was near the soy sauce and other Asian sauces. If you can’t find it there, try an Asian market. Good luck!

  21. Kim Says:

    How many will this feed? I am going to make them for a birthday in 10 days. Thanks!

  22. Kim: The recipe yields six servings. Good luck!

  23. Just a Mom Says:

    I made this recipe but I got lazy and just used a really good BBQ sauce instead of making the glaze for them. They came out awesome! Cooking them in the pineapple juice is the key!

  24. Just a Mom: Thanks for reporting back. Glad you liked them!

  25. Deb Says:

    I plan on making these this weekend for a party of 50.

    On the “Do Ahead”, I wanted to make sure that the ribs can be cooked the day before..

    Also, do you think I need to adjust the cooking time a little, and bring them to temperature in the oven before the event or just finish them off on the grill and add more grill time?

    Can’t wait to try them.

  26. Deb: That’s so ambitious! What lucky guests you have. The recipe states that you can bake the ribs 1 day ahead. It instructs to wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. I’m sure you’re planning to bake them in smaller batches.

    Instead of warming before grilling, I would just pull them out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.

    As for the grill, just make sure it’s nice and hot before you put the ribs on. Then, I’d suggest working in batches again. This will go relatively quickly because the grill time is so short. I think the key here will be to make sure the grill stays hot (or allow it to get hot again between batches) so that the ribs crisp up.

    Sorry it took me a couple days to respond. Good luck!

  27. Revive Says:

    I first saw this recipe in a cooking magazine 2 or 3 years ago and have been making them ever since!! I’ve used jack Daniels in place of the Makers Mark and that adds a little something to them… I like 😀 This is a great recipe, easy to make and they come out like a pro!
    I have a professional meat smoker and have been smoking for some time now,.. but when I want quick, easy and awesome ribs.. this is the recipe.
    As a matter of fact,. I’m in Thailand right now with my wife (she’s Thai) and I’ll be making these ribs for them at a mountain getaway… 😀

  28. Nate Says:

    That last pic is all the proof you need that it’s a good recipe. I like that you use sambal oelek for chili kick.

    Thanks for adding us as a friend on Foodbuzz. We welcome you to come visit our site!

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