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As summer winds down, I like to do one last barbecue blast with friends. It’s easier to say goodbye to summer when you have racks of ribs grilling on the barbecue along with a menu of sweet corn and a crisp salad or a carrot and cabbage slaw to serve on the side. Cold local beer or chilled rose would make a refreshing beverage.
Through the years I have experimented with different ways to cook baby back ribs and the different sauces to complement them. As a California girl, I never learned the ins and outs of proper barbecue techniques. Usually the process was to throw the ribs on the barbecue and brush sauce on them a few minutes before they were done so the sauce didn’t burn the ribs.
Through trial and error I have found that first seasoning and then baking ribs in a 325-degree oven enclosed in aluminum foil, essentially steaming them, results in a moist, tender slab of ribs. An extra bonus is that the ribs can be cooked in the oven a day ahead, cooled and refrigerated. Even better, you don’t have to be a barbecue maven to simply finish these on the grill. It’s truly Seriously Simple cooking.
This is a family friendly recipe that uses a sweet, yet slightly savory sauce that features apricot preserves for the glaze and as a sauce for dipping. The ribs are finished on the grill after they are cooked. Brushing the glaze on while they are briefly grilled will help prevent the sugars in the glaze from burning. The remaining sauce is served on the side. This is a good technique for any rib recipe you like.
• When selecting ribs, I prefer the meaty and less fatty baby back ribs (sometimes called loin ribs). They have a covering of meat over the bones and also between them that makes them leaner and meatier than spare ribs. Baby back ribs are shorter and smaller than spare ribs and a bit more costly than spare ribs, but I think they’re well worth it.
• Feel free to double or triple this recipe.
• Look for racks that have meat on the rack and not a lot of fat. It’s best to purchase fresh ribs that have not been frozen.
• Sometimes you will find the smallest ribs cut up and called Chinese-style ribs. These are the small ribs from the end of the loin rack. You can substitute these individual ribs if you prefer; these make a great appetizer.
• Use this glaze on pork tenderloin or chicken.
Apricot Glazed Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
Serves 4 to 6
About 2 tablespoons favorite seasoning salt or meat rub
4 pounds pork baby-back ribs
For the glaze sauce:
1 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1. Rub the salt or meat rub all over the ribs. Place the ribs in a jumbo plastic sealable bag and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours, turning occasionally
2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Blend well, stirring to incorporate the ingredients into a sauce consistency, about 3 minutes. Divide in half in two small bowls. Reserve.
3. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place the ribs on a piece of foil large enough to wrap tightly without any holes. Place the package in a large roasting pan and bake for 1 hour. Or alternately, place the ribs in a roasting pan and cover well.
4. Remove the ribs from the oven. Cool. Remove the ribs from the foil and drain.
5. Just before serving: Prepare the barbecue for medium-heat grilling. Take one of the bowls of sauce and brush the ribs with some of the glaze on both sides. Grill the ribs about 3 inches from the flame for about 5 minutes on each side or until they reach the desired doneness, basting occasionally with sauce and making sure they do not burn.
6. Place on a serving platter, and serve with the other bowl of glaze.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.