Monday, June 16, 2008


My plan for Father's Day was to have a nice, relaxed meal -- no fuss. The menu was ribs and chicken, baked beans, coleslaw and corn muffins, with a NY style cheesecake and macerated strawberries for dessert. Not hard. We invited two dads whose wives and families were away to eat with us. Then I made a big mistake. I decided, since there would be four of us, that I could slip in another BBQ rib recipe. So instead of making one simple rack of ribs, I opted to make two separate and different racks of ribs, along with everything else. My normal rib recipe is quite simple,(see previous post for recipe) so I thought I could pull it off. After I started the New Orleans-style rib sauce, I remembered that Tom (one of the invitees) can't eat anything hot. So I decided to make the chicken and a half rack of ribs with a plain BBQ sauce, not hot. So now I was making 3 kinds of ribs. I still thought I could do it. First of all, this recipe is enough work without adding more. There is a lot involved making Jan Birnbaum's New Orleans-Style Babyback Beer Ribs....more than I a lot of dirty dishes, pots and utensils. Bottom line: Because I was trying to do too much, I overbaked the beans, drying them out, burned the chicken and overcooked it, and the ribs were dry for whatever reason. It was not my best day. A lesson learned. KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid.

Now my critique of Jan's recipe. The sauce is interesting; the rub is salty; the ribs are good when they are more on the charred side -- more well done, i.e., the sauce tastes better when it has cooked on the ribs and kind of blackened. Whether you will like it will depend on your individual taste. But for the amount of work involved, I like my basic rib recipe better; a. it's a lot less work and b. it tastes better than Jan's. This made Guy very happy since he loves John Boy and Billy's Grillin' Sauce, which is what I mainly use when I make ribs (besides my rub).

More info: I made 1/3 of the recipe, since I was using 1 rack of ribs, but I still have more than a quart of sauce left over -- it makes a lot; so 1/3 of the recipe would take care of 2-3 racks of ribs. I didn't have achiote (one of the ingredients called for), so I subbed chipotle chile powder (you can buy achiote from And if you want the full recipe for this masochistic meal, you can find it at
the Food Network along with a lot of reviews that will help you decide on how to proceed. The reviews are mixed -- some people raved over the ribs and others didn't like them.

Jan Birnbaum's New Orleans-Style Babyback Beer Ribs, adapted small batch
Rating: 3 out of 10
Spice Rub Mix:
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 tsp. lime zest
1 tsp. crumbled achiote (I used chipotle chile powder)

1-2 racks babyback ribs
1-1/3 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
21 oz. beer (I used 2 cans -- 24 oz.)
1-2 bay leaves

1-1/3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 poblano chile, seeded & chopped
1 carrot, rough chopped
1 medium onion, rough chopped
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
13 oz. canned Roma tomatoes (I used a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes)
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
1/3 of a 2-oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1/3 orange, peeled with pith removed
salt & pepper (use sparingly, and be sure to taste)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice

Spice Rub Mix: Mix together all ingredients.

Ribs: Preheat the gas grill on low (275-300F) for 1/2 hour. If using charcoal, let the coals burn to embers, also about 1/2 hour after lighting.

Cut the rib racks in half horizontally along the bone. Season the ribs with half of the spice rub mix. In a large roasting pan or saute pan, add chicken stock, beer, and the bay leaves. Lower the ribs into the liquid. Bring up to a simmer and poach the ribs for 15 minutes. Take the ribs out of the liquid and season them with the other half of the spice rub on both sides. (Note: I did not use all the spice rub mix -- use your own discretion on this -- I sprinkled lightly on both sides, both times.) While re-spicing the ribs, bring the liquid up to a boil over low heat to reduce.

Place ribs on grill and cover to smoke for 2 hours. While ribs are cooking, sauce can be finished.

Chop your veggies. Here's the first batch -- onions and poblano -- and I put a little bit of sweet red pepper in:
Next, chop the carrot, jalapeno and garlic:
Add oil to a large, preheated saute pan or stockpot. Add the poblanos and onions, and saute for about 10 minutes, until caramelized. Add the garlic, carrots and jalapenos and saute another 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and let it simmer 20 minutes. Add molasses, honey and chipotle with adobo sauce. Add the orange, salt and pepper. When the initial braising liquid has reduced by half, add this to the sauce mixture. Let everything simmer for 20 minutes. Everything is very chunky looking, especially before you add the braising liquid --
Blend the sauce mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in red wine vinegar and lime juice.

Bring sauce to grill and brush or mop on ribs for the last half hour of grilling. This recipe will make several quarts of sauce, enough for 2-3 racks of ribs.

1 comment:

DESG said...

Thanks again Judy for your hospitality and great cooking. I enjoyed the meal and company...