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June 18, 2007 / Tony



I hosted my family for Father’s Day.  I offered to provide ribs and the rest of the family pitched in with baked beans, coleslaw, buns, chips, and beverages.  It was a nice party on a nice day. 

I chose to make two rib recipes and one barbeque sauce.  I did this because my grill is not big enough to smoke 6 racks of baby back ribs at one time.  The three that I did was pretty much the limit.  (I have a 22 ½ inch blue Weber Gold charcoal grill.  Death to gas grills.)  Otherwise, I would have just stuck with one recipe just to make things a little easier.  The barbeque sauce recipe is one of my favorites and oddly enough, comes from a low-fat cooking cookbook.  Go figure.  Anyway, here are the recipes.  Discussion will follow.


Ultimate Ribs (from Bon Appétit magazine)


Brine and Ribs

2 cups warm water

2 cups lager beer

½ cup packed golden brown sugar

3 T kosher salt

3 T olive oil

3 T fresh lemon juice

2 T fresh lime juice

2 racks baby back pork ribs (about 4 lbs)


First rub

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 T dried summer savory

1 T granulated garlic

1 T sweet paprika

1/8 t ground cloves

1 cup yellow ballpark mustard


Second Rub

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 t cayenne pepper

1 t dry mustard


Alton Brown’s No BBQ Ribs (my title)


Jack’s BBQ Sauce


1 tsp olive oil

6 tbsp finely chopped onion (about 1 small)

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 cup ketchup

¼ cup water

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp Tabasco sauce

¼ tsp cracked black pepper

¼ tsp celery seeds

¼ tsp ground allspice


In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add onion, garlic, and bay leaf.  Reduce heat to low and cook covered until onion softens, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add a little water if needed to keep onions from burning.  Whisk in remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes, or until onion has softened completely and sauce has thickened to desired consistency.  Remove bay leaf before serving.


Let’s start with the Ultimate Ribs recipe.  I’ve made this before, probably about 2 years ago.  And now that I’ve made it again, I seem to have run into similar problems.  But I’ll get into those in a little bit.  The recipe starts with the creation of the brine and the soaking of the ribs overnight.  I brined my ribs for about 7 hours and I think that was plenty.  Baby back ribs are not thick and will soak up the brine liquid quickly.  I also think that you don’t want to overdo the brining, lest your ribs turn out too salty.  I used gallon-sized plastic bags and it seemed to work out fine. 

After you are done brining, mix up the first rub.  Then, put the mustard on the ribs (I used a brush), and sprinkle the rub evenly over the ribs.  Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.  Then smoke it on your grill (see next paragraph) till tender.  After that, sprinkle on the second rub mixture, put it back on the grill in a foil pouch.  Cook for about fifteen minutes.  Then expose the pouch so the rub can melt onto the ribs.  Then serve. 

Well, I must have some incorrect smoking technique on my trusty old Weber grill because I got way too much “blackened crust” on my ribs.  (See the picture above.)  I’m not sure if I overcooked or if I have my grill too hot (or both I suppose) but the ribs that came out, while still tasty, were far too crispy to be called in any way “ultimate”.  My smoking method is to light about 2/5 of a charcoal chimney worth of fuel, divide between the two sides of the grill (using some metal dividers), put the meat in the middle (where obviously there are no coals directly underneath), and put foil packets of soaked wood chips (hickory in this case) on the coals.  Put the cover on the grill and let it cook low and slow.  (Incidentally, this is the same method I use for turkeys and pulled pork.)  

I made one alteration from the recipe.  I brushed the ribs with Jack’s BBQ sauce before I took them off the grill.  It helped moisten the ribs and provide some additional flavor.  But again, the ribs were far from perfect.  Nevertheless, I received quite a few positive comments about the ribs from my guest.  I just know I can do better.  Hopefully, I can write a post about a more positive rib experience.


Alton’s ribs were more tender and correctly made.  However, I thought they were lacking in flavor compared to the heavily smoked Ultimate ribs.  I have made these before as well to good effect.  This is a good recipe-especially for those who don’t like or can’t smoke their ribs.  In fact, you don’t even need to use the grill at all.  But, for baby back ribs, they just seem to be lacking that deep smoky flavor that really great ribs possess.  I would call these ribs “lite” or something like that.


The method to these ribs is to slowly braise them in the oven in a liquid of white wine, white wine vinegar, Worchestersire sauce, honey, and garlic.  (You can also use margarita mix to good effect.)  The ribs, before brining, are rubbed in a spice mixture and then placed in a foil packet into which the braising liquid is poured.  Then they are placed in a 250 degree oven for about 2 ½ to 3 hours.  When they are tender, you drain out the braising liquid and reduce it until you get a glaze-like consistency.  (I like to add some ketchup at this point both for flavor and for texture.)  Then, apply the glaze-either under your broiler or (like me) on the grill.  Let the glaze cook onto the meat and then serve. 

Again, this is a fine recipe but if you’re looking for classic, smoky, and ethereal ribs, this recipe isn’t the one for you. 

Finally, the sauce.  I’ve made this bbq sauce many times and it is my favorite.  It is sweet, spicy, tangy, rich, and a little mysterious all at once.  It seems to dance on your tongue so that you can’t quite pin down what you’re tasting.  I highly recommend it. 


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