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Barbecue: Dr. Pepper Baby Back Ribs

[Photographs: Joshua Bousel]

20100526-dr-pepper-bottle.jpgIt's finally Memorial Day, which brings an official open to grilling season for those not as certifiably insane as I am—someone who loves grilling in the cold, hard days of winter too. The holiday and its outdoor cooking significance gets me in the mood for seasonal classics, and none seems more fitting right now than the ubiquitous ribs.

Ribs usually means jumping on my own variation of Mike Mill's Apple City Barbecue World Championship Ribs, but I was feeling a little change in the air and took a new and very tasty direction with these racks.

Although not a huge fan of baby backs, I went with them here in place of my normal spare ribs—what baby backs lack in meaty flavor, they make up for in tenderness. The racks were rubbed down, smoked for about 4 hours over some apple wood chunks and finished with the secret transformative ingredient: Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce.

My most favorite of soft drinks served as the base of this sauce, which had a tang and depth that you would probably never be able to put your finger on if you didn't know what it was. Slathered on the extremely tender ribs, it added just the right sweetness to balance a spicy rub and smokey meat, churning out stellar ribs that were worthy examples of what summer is all about.

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