Monday, February 26, 2007

smoky experimentation

Cook's Illustrated published this recipe in January 2006, and it took me a year to get around to trying it. I'll have to say, my results were not quite as brilliant as I'm sure theirs were, but I think this is an experiment worth working at.

oven-barbecued ribs
The smoke flavor was a little lacking in my version. I think the ribs were too big for my pan, and gave off too much liquid, therefore dampening the tea which was supposed to make it gloriously smoky. Aside from that, they were very flavorful and mostly tender.

From Cook's Illustrated, January 2006
To make this recipe, you will need a baking stone, a sturdy baking sheet with a 1-inch rim, and a wire cooling rack that fits inside it. It’s fine if the ribs overlap slightly on the rack. In step 1, removing the surface fat keeps the ribs from being too greasy. And, removing the membrane from the ribs allows the smoke to penetrate both sides of the racks and also makes the ribs easier to eat. Note that the ribs must be coated with the rub and refrigerated at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours ahead of cooking. Be careful when opening the crimped foil to add the juice, as hot steam and smoke will billow out. If desired, serve the ribs with Quick Barbecue Sauce (see related recipe) or your favorite store-bought brand. Some recipes muster only the crisp-charred exterior and fall-apart tenderness of outdoor ribs. Ours replicates the smoke flavor, too.
Serves 4

-6 tablespoons mustard (yellow)
-2 tablespoons ketchup
-3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
-2 teaspoons ground black pepper
-1 tablespoon sweet paprika
-1 tablespoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
-3 tablespoons brown sugar

-2 racks St. Louis-style spareribs , 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each, trimmed of surface fat, membrane removed (see illustrations below), each rack cut in half
-1/4 cup Lapsang Souchong tea leaves (finely ground)—from about 10 tea bags, or 1/2 cup loose tea leaves ground to a powder in a spice grinder)
-1/2 cup apple juice

1. FOR THE RUB: Combine mustard, ketchup, and garlic in small bowl; combine pepper, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, salt, and sugar in separate small bowl. Spread mustard mixture in thin, even layer over both sides of ribs; coat both sides with spice mixture, then wrap ribs in plastic and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

2. Transfer ribs from refrigerator to freezer for 45 minutes. Adjust one oven rack to lowest position and second rack to upper-middle position (at least 5 inches below broiler). Place baking stone on lower rack; heat oven to 500 degrees. Sprinkle ground tea evenly over bottom of rimmed baking sheet; set wire rack on sheet. Place ribs meat side up on rack and cover with heavy-duty foil, crimping edges tightly to seal. Roast ribs directly on stone for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees, leaving oven door open for 1 minute to cool. While oven is open, carefully open one corner of foil and pour apple juice into bottom of baking sheet; reseal foil. Continue to roast until meat is very tender and begins to pull away from bones, about 1 1/2 hours. (Begin to check ribs after 1 hour; leave loosely covered with foil for remaining cooking time.)

3. Remove foil and carefully flip racks bone side up; place baking sheet on upper-middle oven rack. Turn on broiler; cook ribs until well browned and crispy in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Flip ribs meat side up and cook until well browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into individual ribs. Serve with barbecue sauce, if desired.

[recipe from Cook's Illustrated magazine]


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