Me: “Do you think we can get a smoker?”
Geoff: “We can’t really smoke inside!”
We went on to debate smoking meat in the park or propping a grill out on the fire escape, but for now, indoor oven-braised baby-back ribs are the closest I’m going to get to home-made BBQ.
I’ve had my eye on the Fairway meat counter’s beautiful ribs for a while – I’m always tempted to buy, but never know what the heck I would do with them. So, I was excited when I saw that Alton Brown’s rib recipe, one of the “Top 100” recipes on FoodNetwork.com, is made in the oven. Yay!
No smoking is involved, so (as Alton points out) these are essentially “fake” BBQ ribs, but they’ll definitely do in a pinch. A long braise makes the meat tender and moist, while a dry rub and spices make it taste like BBQ. The juices are reduced to make a sauce, which tastes much different than your normal high-fructose-corn-syrupy bottled sauce (more spice and less sweetness). A short broil caramelizes the outside, you coat them in sauce and then they’re ready and finger-lickin’ good.
Indoor Baby-Back Ribs
Adapted from Alton Brown on FoodNetwork.com
1 whole slab pork baby back ribs (This was enough for 2 of us. I would say to double the recipe for a family of 4.)
Dry Rub: (You can make as much dry rub as you want, as long as you stick to a 8:3:1:1 ratio, with the last “1” part – the 6 spices below – equaling one part. Go ahead and substitute your spices of choice for this last part.)
4 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon jalapeno seasoning (I found this in the Mexican food section of the supermarket.)
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Mix all the dry rub ingredients together. Place the slab ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side with the dry rub and pat it into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour (I left them overnight). Mix all the braising liquid together and heat in a saucepan or in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until honey is melted.
Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Carefully open one end of the foil, make it into a little funnel and pour the braising liquid in. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Pop them in the oven and let the ribs braise for 2 1/2 hours.
Transfer the braising liquid into a saucepan (set the foil packet across the top of the pan and snip a hole in the middle so the liquid drains out). Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until it’s thick and somewhat syrupy. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin coating of glaze onto the ribs. Place the whole thing under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly (could be only 30 seconds to a minute – don’t let it burn!). Slice the slab into 2 rib bone portions. Pour the rest of the hot glaze into a large bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze to coat.