Happy Easter to all! I hope everyone enjoyed the day despite its being the most unusual Easter Sunday in recent memory. We spent the morning watching our church’s livestream service on TV while I prepped four baby back rib racks for the smoker. Yes, FOUR!
For Christmas this past year, my SIL gave me a copy of Reese Witherspoon’s Southern lifestyle book Whiskey in a Teacup. It was a fun book adeptly sprinkled with equal portions autobiography, cookery, entertaining, style, home décor, and extracurricular diversions. I enjoyed the book very much. So much so that I blitzed through it on just two days. Ok so maybe the Christmas break gave me a little extra time to catch up on my reading, but I still had trouble putting it down. I loved that it was a lighthearted read, but an encouraging one as well. I never felt as if Reese was talking down to me, but instead gabbing with me like I was one of her girlfriends.
One of the recipes from the book was Reese’s brother John’s smoked ribs that I felt would be so perfect for a holiday family gathering. I’m usually down for more traditional fare for holidays, but last year we did the whole brisket-for-Easter thing and one day we’ll do a traditional ham, so this year I offered to change things up on the fly and try out Brother John’s Ribs and John’s BBQ Sauce. The Mr and I are pretty much the unofficial “protein cooks” of the family. If we all want something to turn out well, we’re the ones to call. It’s a compliment and a pretty fun challenge to come up with something exciting for various special occasions.
One of the best parts of this recipe was that many of the ingredients were ones that were not only readily available, but also ones that were typical for my pantry. The only hang up I kept having with the recipe was the sheer volume of rib racks called for in the recipe. I’m not sure if it was a typo or a very generous serving, but there was no way each of us was going to eat an entire rib rack by ourselves. Plus sides! I mean the ribs were great, but there’s only so much room in my stomach! I ended up eating maybe a third of a rib rack along with a salad and classic deviled eggs and I. was. stuffed!
The flavor was otherwise impeccable. The subtle combination of seasonings (a couple surprising ones thrown in there) created a delicate, yet sensation-packed bark during the smoking. I myself thoroughly enjoyed the charred end pieces of one such rack. The sauce was a delightful tangy-acidic adornment for the final hour of smoking. The combination of dry rub and sticky sauce created a recipe that honestly didn’t require any extra sauce. Bonus! Check out my spin below!
1/4c packed light brown sugar
2tbsp of (standard) chili powder
2tbsp Hot Mexican-style chili powder
1tbsp kosher salt
2tbsp garlic powder
2tbsp onion powder
2tbsp Mexican oregano
1tbsp Special Dark baking cocoa
4 baby back rib racks (though you could easily get away with 2)
1/2c yellow mustard
Ingredients (BBQ Sauce):
3/4c salted butter
1/4c chopped shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1tsp kosher salt
1tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 hothouse tomato, diced
1-1/2c vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1) Place all dry ingredients down through baking cocoa in a mason jar and shake shake shake to combine. Set aside.
2) Remove the thin membrane from the back of each rack (or ask your butcher to do this for you to make things easier) and allow to rest at room temp for 30min while you prepare the smoker. Bring the temperature of the smoker to 210°-225°
3) While the smoker is coming up to temp, baste the rib racks on both sides with the yellow mustard and dust thoroughly with the dry rub making sure to work the rub all over coating all exposed surfaces of the racks.
4) Position the ribs curved side up in the smoker and cook for 3hrs.
5) While the ribs are smoking, in a medium saucepan over med-high heat, melt 4tbsp of butter. Stir in chopped shallot and sautée for 1min.
6) Stir in the garlic and S&P and sautée for another 1min.
7) Stir in tomato, ketchup, ACV, Worcestershire, broth, bay leaves, and lemon slices until well-combined. Bring to a boil and cook for 1min.
8) Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15min, stirring frequently.
9) Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Blend the rest (preferably with an immersion blender) and pour into a mason jar holding the remaining butter. Allow the butter to fully melt in the rest of the sauce. Set aside to cool.
10) After the 3hrs has elapsed on the ribs, remove the ribs to aluminum foil and baste with the BBQ sauce. Tightly fold the foil to wrap the entire rack and repeat with the remaining racks.
11) Flip foil packs over and replace in smoker to cook for an additional 1hr to 1-1/2hrs until internal temp reaches 160°. Allow the ribs to rest wrapped for 30min to continue cooking up to proper temperature. Finish with a sprinkling of Maldon flaked sea salt and slice to serve.
“As you probably know, there’s a big argument about Texas barbecue versus North Carolina barbecue versus Tennessee barbecue, and now there’s a whole Georgia sweet and smoky…” What’s your favorite barbecue?
Currently Reading: The Flipside of Feminism by Susan Venker