Authentic smoked ribs are a challenge for those of us living in small apartments with little outdoor grill space. Blogger Lisa Fain shares this sentiment but refuses to give up barbecue ribs. Instead of worrying about a grill, she builds smoky flavor by using smoked paprika and chipotle chile powder in her ribs recipe in her new cookbook, The Homesick Texan's Family Table. Both spices are rubbed into a couple of racks of pork ribs along with a hefty dose of salt and pepper. After a few hours, she cooks the ribs slowly in their own juices until they're tender. A similarly smoky homemade barbecue sauce gets brushed on towards the end of cooking, and the ribs get a quick trip under the broiler to caramelize before serving.
Why I picked this recipe: Ribs are one of the most enjoyable cuts of pork. Plus, they signal the first signs of summery outdoor dinner potucks.
What worked: These ribs aren't exactly quick fare, but they're a breeze to make.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: If you've got access to a grill or smoker, there's no reason you couldn't use it to cook these ribs. Grill them slowly over indirect heat (using wood chunks if you've got 'em) until they're tender before brushing on sauce and transferring them to the hotter side of the grill.
Reprinted with permission from The Homesick Texan's Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours by Lisa Fain. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:5 hours and 15 minutes to 13 hours and 15 minutes
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 2 slabs St. Louis–cut ribs (about 2 pounds each)
- Cracked black pepper, for garnish
- Peppery Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup canned tomato sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
To make a rub, mix together the salt, pepper, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and chipotle chile powder. Sprinkle each slab of ribs evenly with the rub and then double wrap with aluminum foil, making note of which side is the meat side. refrigerate the ribs for 2 to 8 hours. (They’re good after 2 hours, but even better after 8 hours.)
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
Place the foil-wrapped ribs, meat side up, on the baking sheets, and bake for 2 hours.
While the ribs are baking, make the sauce. In a medium pot, stir together the tomato sauce, ketchup, garlic, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, brown sugar, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, and cloves. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and gently simmer for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. (The sauce may splatter a bit.) After 30 minutes, stir in the smoked paprika and add salt to taste.
After 2 hours, remove the ribs from the oven, gently open the foil (a lot of steam will escape, so be careful), brush the meat side of the slabs with the sauce, and return to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, and then brush each slab with the sauce again. Bake for 30 more minutes.
Turn on the broiler and place a rack 6 inches away from the heating element. With tongs, remove the ribs from the foil packets, discarding the foil. (You can stir some of the rib juices into the sauce, if you like, or save it for another use.) drain any remaining fat from the baking sheet and place the ribs back on the sheets. Brush each slab with sauce and broil for 1 to 3 minutes, or until dark spots appear. Sprinkle the ribs with the freshly cracked black pepper for garnish, and allow the ribs to rest for 10 minutes before serving.