I’m a day late but that seems the routine lately. Weekends of yard work see my Monday posts delayed til Tuesday and now poor Wayback Wednesday escaped me too. Luckily Throwback Thursday is a universal given and I’ll just jump into that mix. I decided to route this post back again after an epiphany the other day. I sat pitting a couple of pounds of cherries and started thinking about what I would use them for and barbecue sauce came to mind. As I contemplated what I use would with that sweet, gorgeous burgundy orb I knew it would need some heat and what better than Chipotle peppers with their smoky, fiery combination?
Then at the back of my mind there was this little pause; which led to a search and son of a gun I had already done it! So here is my post from 4 years ago…because once I remembered I also remembered how amazingly good it was; it beat what I thought would be my favorite with bourbon in a barbecue ribs throwdown! Both were really fabulous barbecue sauces so this is not just a recipe for a sauce, nope it’s Barbecued Baby Back Ribs with Two Sauces!
I’ve been using a grill for a long time; first helping my Dad as a kid and for many years perfecting a lot of dishes outdoors. I’ve even cooked a turkey at Thanksgiving on my grill. But I had been slow to come to ribs; guessing because there is such a fanaticism about them that I hesitated to even try as I was sure the difficulty factor was huge and that was not what I wanted for a summer barbecue experience.
So when I finally decided to take the plunge it was prophetic that the fellow next to me at the Costco meat counter was a great resource because the results were outstanding. His method called for a dry rub and putting some form of liquid in the bottom of a roasting pan and I liked that and started to think about what I would use that would be complimentary to a great sauce. And therein as they say…was the rub (and I’m not talking the dry rub!).
We enjoyed the barbecued ribs so much that I made them a couple of times that summer but the one thing that never quite seemed to measure up? The sauce. I asked for suggestions on Twitter, got a ready made recommendation filled with corn syrup and one recipe that was OK but just never really found that perfect blend of ingredients that satisfied my quest for the perfect sauce (well at least perfect for me!)
I decided it was finally time to throw recipes to the wind and do my own thing; inspired mostly by wanting to make a bourbon concoction with some maple syrup and mustard. A second recipe combining fresh cherries and chipotle peppers was planned and we were off to the races.
To make it fun, I asked some neighbors to join me for dinner so we could come to a consensus about which sauce was better, the Bourbon Maple or the Cherry Chipotle?
Truth is…after polling which ones they loved the best they all said that hands down their favorite was – my Cilantro Rice Dish! It is the perfect accompaniment and you should try it too; this is the most surprising dish I have ever made. Simple ingredients, not hard to put together and yet the final dish is hard to describe but it is hard to stop eating too. Don’t let the serrano chile fool you; it adds a definite flavor boost but nothing about this rice is really hot, it’s just really, really good; perfect with the ribs.
Back to the ribs! The overwhelming preference was the Cherry Chipotle barbecue sauce and I admit some surprise because boozy sauces are always so popular but it seems that bit of heat (which I thought could be more) was the kicker. The next day, I fiddled with the Bourbon Maple a bit and wish my testers had been around to try again..yes cumin and liquid smoke DID make a difference. A 2nd chipotle pepper for the cherry version did the trick too; now I had two sauces I loved. I mean LOVED!
Seems the cut of meat was equally outstanding as some guests complimented on how much meat was on the bone and bottom line I heard that they were some of the best ribs they had ever eaten. What could be more perfect than that except maybe these ribs with a Watermelon Margarita? 😉
Barbecued Baby Back Ribs Throwdown
3 hrs 30 mins
Two different sauces; both make for amazing barbecue ribs.
- 6-8 pounds baby back ribs
Ingredients for the Dry Rub
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 T black pepper
- 1/2 tsp each cloves, garlic powder, tarragon, thyme, mustard, paprika (I think you can be real creative with these; next time want to try Chinese Five Spice
Ingredients for the Bourbon Maple Barbecue Sauce
- 6-8 pounds baby back ribs
- 2 Tbsp olive oil combined with 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped or put through a garlic press
- 1 can (15-16 oz) tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 Tbsp stone ground mustard
- 1Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp cumin
- Couple of dashes of hot sauce
- Salt and pepper as needed
- 1/2 to 1 cup bourbon (duh, yeah I used a cup!)
Ingredients for the Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup cherry preserves (I had so many cherries, I did a quick preserve but will also use a store product if cherries are not available
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
- 2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
- 1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from can (I originally made this with one chile to not make it too hot for more sensitive palates; despite it's popularity as is, I added more chipotle to this sauce the next day and I much prefer the slight additional heat
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
To Make the Bourbon Maple Barbecue Sauce:
- Saute onion in combination of oil and butter til tender.
- Add garlic and saute for two minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook down til deep in color and thickened, 25-30 minutes.
- Using a food processor, blender or stick blender, blend all ingredients until just smooth; I like it just a little bit chunky.
To Make the Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce:
- Bring ketchup, cherry preserves, lemon juice, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon peel, chiles, adobo sauce, liquid smoke, onion powder, and cocoa powder to simmer in medium saucepan, stirring often.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
To Make the Ribs:
- Pat ribs and rub dry mixture all over. Place in ovenproof dish (I used my turkey roaster; held three racks).
- Fill bottom of roaster with 1 cup of your favorite bourbon whiskey or beer with equal amount of water and 10-15 dashes of Liquid Smoke. Check occasionally; you always want some liquid in the bottom of the roaster.
- Cover tightly with foil and cook using ambient heat. Turn two burners on and place the roasting pan on top of the two burners that are off. One word of warning...the temperature control on my grill indicated 250 but wasn't accurate for the temp inside the pan so I had to turn up the degrees to get the meat cooking so be sure to check the internal temp of your grill. You want it to cook slow but still needs to be 200-250 degrees inside the grill.
- Cook for two hours, changing the direction of the pan occasionally to insure even heating and re-arranging the meat at least once to insure even cooking.
- Remove ribs from pan, empty pan juices, cut ribs into serving portions and cover with sauce. Cover pan and cook for an additional 30-60 minutes. I configured two separate chambers from heavy duty aluminum foil so I could keep all the ribs in one pan.
My personal preference is to not put the meat directly on the grill and char; the meat is moist and tender and not dried out like so many ribs I've eaten. If you want a bit of char; I would suggest you remove from the roaster and cook on each side for 5-7 minutes just to get some burn marks. Whichever method you prefer; serve by cutting into serving portions and pass the extra sauce.
Sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate