Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Babyback Ribs - Made Easy

Some recipes and techniques I like to keep to myself. I have to have something to impress you with if you come over for dinner, right? But some are so simple and so great that it becomes my civic duty to share. Here is one, a new one for me - a technique for cooking babyback ribs without a smoker or a grill. Honestly, it's as simple as it gets and total time is under two hours. Please address appreciative correspondence to: Brooklynguy@thankyouribsBrooklynguy.gov.

The technique is this: because you are not going to cook the ribs in a smoker, or otherwise low and slow to tenderize the meat, you need an alternative for tenderizing. Boiling. Yes, boiling the ribs first. I was quite skeptical at first too. When I think of boiled meat I think of my great-uncle's holiday dinner in the Gulag. But boiling is merely to tenderize here, the ribs are finished in the oven, preferably with a glaze of some sort. Here's how:

Start with good quality ribs. I've tried both spare ribs and babyback and both come out great, but my kids can handle the smaller babybacks more easily, so that's what I go with.

Put the ribs in a pot and just cover with water. You are going to bring the water to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for at least 45 minutes. This will tenderize the meat, and I like to think that some of the fat is removed too. I find that the smell is not appealing, so I add a little soy sauce to the water, and some aromatics like garlic, star anise, and black peppercorns. Honestly, I don't think this makes a bit of difference as far as the flavor of the meat, but it does make the house smell savory and spicy, instead of porky.

You can put the boiled ribs in the fridge until you're ready to use them, or glaze them and put them in the oven immediately. Glaze...whatever you like works. I've been enjoying a Chinese-style glaze of Chinkiang vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and a bit of chili paste. You can do anything you like here for a glaze, though. I want to try a ponzu glaze, and some sort of BBQ sauce. I imagine that in a pinch, you could use BBQ sauce from a jar, although you would first have to shave your beard and take off your worn-looking wool cap.

If you glaze and put in the oven right after simmering, as little as 20 minutes in a 325 oven is fine. But I've found that I get the texture I'm looking for after about an hour. I take the ribs out of the oven and apply more glaze every 20 minutes or so.

Ribs are rich and fatty. I like to serve mine with lots of greens, hopefully involving vinegar. This is not a new idea - this is the same idea behind cole slaw. Tatsoi is a healthy and very delicious green vegetable that does well cooked quickly in a wok. I did mine this time with a little Sherry vinegar and garlic.

On this night, my kids and I rolled some vinegared sushi rice in nori and that completed our plates. These ribs are delicious, and anyone who eats meat will love them. It's hard to describe the delight a parent feels when their young kids go to town on some protein, and that's exactly what happens every time I make this dish.

Beer would be good, Riesling, Sherry, there are many nice options. As crazy as it sounds, on this night I drank red wine with these ribs. Michel Lafarge makes one of my favorite Bourgognes. It is a regional wine, but it is very serious stuff. It comes from vines that were formerly classified as Volnay villages, and the wine typically needs a few years to fully express itself. The 2008 is in a place now where the meatiness and richness of the fruit is strong, but so is the sense of stoney minerality. The structure is firm but the texture is velvet - this is such a lovely vintage for this wine. And it was great with the Chinkiang-glazed ribs.


tueuboeuf said...

Funny, I don't remember the forum but I also once made the mistake to say this is a great technique and if done right flavourwise there is not a huge difference. You can also do this and then BBQ them works great. What I do is I bring it to a simmer and then switch the heat off and leave them overnight, fantastically tender. This is a technique they use a lot in North Africa and thos guys know about grilling I can assure. Great wine match btw.

Restaurant Broadbeach said...

Preparing a unique and delicious food is a real art and to master it you need the right kind of knowledge.Knowledge transferring is generally a two way process, and I wanna appreciate you for the unique dish and your thought.thank you..

deetrane said...

There is an ancient Hyderabadi or Awadhi cooking technique, which, I'm sorry BG, has an older claim on this technique. Credit for discovering it aside, it is a great thing. They usually braise a cut of meat like lamb shoulder or lamb shank, gradually reducing the cooking liquids until it's almost syrupy. Then, and this is the masterstroke, they remove the meat, glaze the meat with the syrup, and stick the meat into a burning hot tandoor for 2-3 minutes - enough to cause the outside surface of the meat to crisp up, toasty and caramelized, while the interior is falling-apart tender.

Anyway, this post reminded me of that.

Do Bianchi said...

we NEED to get you to Texas, man... Love the Lafarge...

Iron Chevsky said...

Clearly, you must have read my post from 2010: http://www.chevsky.com/2010/07/living-off-land-in-palo-alto.html

Scroll down to step 4. I came up with it first! :) Ribs with Burgundy of course.
Iron C.

Rara droppar said...

In Sweden we use a similar technique for our X-mas ribs. I use lots of veggies and spices to get flavor into the meat while simmering.

It adds quie nice to the overall taste. Worth a try.