Thursday, June 9, 2011

BBQ Pork Ribs with Apple Bourbon Sauce

This was my first time making this recipe - I thought it was pretty tasty, and a nice change from standard BBQ sauce.  Summer grilling experiment time is here!

1/2 cup hickory, apple or maple wood chips (soak for 30 mins beforehand)
4 pounds baby back or spare pork ribs

For rub:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For Apple Bourbon BBQ Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
2 coarsely grated peeled Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons bourbon (I used Jack Daniels)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons liquid smoke

To make the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the apple and cook until the moisture has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the bourbon and cook until nearly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

For ribs:
First, you'll need to prepare your rack.  Bring the ribs to room temperature, rinse, and remove the membrane from the back.  The membrane blocks the intake of smoke into the meat, and creates a barrier to your seasonings.

To remove the membrane, lay the ribs on a flat surface, meat side down. Take a sharp knife and begin peeling the membrane from one corner near the bone. From there, you should be able to get a good grip and begin pulling.  If the membrane is intact this will just take a few seconds, if it comes off in pieces, it may take a bit longer.

Now, preheat your grill to 200 degrees.  Drain the wood chips.  If you have a smoker box (you can buy one at Target for about $10 bucks), you can use that - if not, wrap the chips in foil, pierce the packet all over and add to the back of the grill.  Alternately, you can use a cheap aluminum pan (such as one you would buy to roast a turkey) and just cover that loosely in foil.  Once you have your chips on the grill, close the lid and let the chips begin to smoke, about 5 minutes.

To make your rub, 
combine the dry rub ingredients and rub the spice mixture all over the ribs.  Let stand for 5 minutes. 
Grill the ribs over indirect heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turning occasionally, until they are lightly charred and cooked through.  Baste the ribs with sauce (make sure to reserve some for later!) several times throughout the cooking time.  Once you feel the ribs are tender (or you just can't wait anymore!), turn the heat up on the grill to high, place the ribs directly on the grill, and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, until you get a nice char.

Transfer the ribs to a platter and serve with the reserved barbecue sauce.

Tips - You really can't overcook ribs (as long as you don't burn them), so you could leave these on longer to make them even more tender.  Also, if you are too lazy (or busy!) to make the BBQ sauce entirely from scratch, you can omit all of the ingredients besides the apple, bourbon, and butter and simply add 2 1/2 cups of store bought BBQ sauce to the cooked apple mixture.

Finally, I pureed this in my food processor because I wanted a smooth texture, but the recipe actually called for it to be chunky.  That's up to the chef!  Enjoy!

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