Monday, March 12, 2012

Oven Cooked Baby Backs with Ancho BBQ Glaze

Not the best picture, I failed to take any others.
By wife brought home some really nice baby backs from Costco the other day. I really wanted to smoke them outside but the weather just would not cooperate.  I'll sit up all night with a brisket in the smoker when the weather is decent but I refuse to stand outside when its 45 degrees and raining just for a couple slabs of ribs. I waited as long as I could to see if the weather cleared up and by noon Sunday morning is was still wet and chilly out so I decided to use the oven.  This might be the easiest way to cook ribs if you don't have a smoker or a grill. The homemade BBQ sauce will make it seem like you cooked these outside over a fire. Its a little smokey, a little spicy and very bold.

Baby Backs 101:  If you pick up the rack on one end, and it breaks and completely falls apart, its overdone.  You want to be able to pull the bone out but it needs to have just a little resistance.  The meat should still hold together and be tender when you bite into it. Tough ribs are undercooked or cooked too fast.  Mushy ribs are simply overcooked. I like mine where you can pick up 2 or 3 bone section, pull the first bone out and still have the meat intact to bite into.

When you buy your ribs take them out of the package and flip them over.  If you see a sliver skin, or very thin translucent membrane on the back then you need to pull it off.  Its difficult at best.  You might need a small knife to get under it. Keep your hands dry so you can get a good grip or you'll never get it off.  That membrane is inedible.  Some people like to leave it on to keep the ribs together. Some say it keeps the moisture in. I say no, take it off. It doesn't help anything. If you don't have a pan (or an oven) than can hold the full rack of ribs then cut the slabs in half. They are also easier to handle this way.  Trim away any hard white fat or any large pieces of fat that might be on the ribs.

Preheat your oven to 350.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together 1 cup dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon kosher salt.  Rub this mixture into both sides of the ribs and let the ribs sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. They will cook more evenly if they are not right out of the fridge. 

Place the ribs in a baking dish, cover tightly with foil and bake them for 1 hour.  Remove from oven, drain any juices from the pan, put the foil back on and bake for another hour.  Remove from the oven, remove the foil and drain any juice in the pan. The ribs might look a little gray at this point. Don't worry. Coat both sides with the Ancho BBQ Sauce making sure to get the ends and edges. Place back into the oven and cook for another hour.  Check the ribs after 30 minutes. If the meat is pulling away from the end of the bones and you can wiggle the bone inside the meat, then they are done. if they still seem too firm then continue cooking and check them every 15 minutes. You should have ribs that have a nice outside crust, that are not overly sauced and that you would swear were cooked on a grill.  Serve the extra BBQ sauce on the side.

Ancho BBQ Sauce

6-8 Dried Ancho Chiles
1 1/2 Cups Ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 White Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
Optional Items:
 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar ( for sweet sauce)
 2 tablespoons Sirahcha sauce (for heat)

Remove stems and seeds from Ancho pods.  Tear each into several pieces and place in a medium sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Place a plate on top of the chiles to keep them submerged. Let them steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour to rehydrate them.
Transfer chiles and 1 cup of the cooking water to a blender.  Blend until you have a smooth puree. You may need to add a little more of the cooking water if your puree is too thick to pour. Discard the rest of the cooking water.
Pour the contents of the blender into the sauce pan and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Sauce is done.  I would suggest making the BBQ sauce a few hours or a full day ahead. Its much better once it sits for awhile and the flavors have time toe blend.  Heat it up before you serve it.

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