Friday, August 11, 2006

I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs

Last night, I prepared a few racks of Alton Brown's No-Backyard Baby Back Ribs. For those of you not familiar with Alton, he is the host of the popular Food Network show Good Eats as well as the commentator on Iron Chef America. This particular recipe, originally published in his book I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking, is very easy to make and takes very little time; it only takes me about 20 minutes of active prep time to ready three racks of ribs with the dry rub. The most time-consuming part of the recipe is the preparation of the sauce. Depending on how much braising liquid is there, it can take up to 45 minutes to reduce it down to the right thickness. It also reheats very well, which makes it a good option if you want/need to prepare some racks a day or two ahead of when you want to serve it.

Of course, I wouldn't be writing about this recipe if it weren't any good. It's been a hit every single time that I've made it. (And I've made it a lot of times - over the past three years, I've probably made at least 120 lbs of ribs using this recipe.) I've made some small tweaks to the recipe to make it more to my liking - I'll pass these tips along to you:

  1. Remove the membrane from the ribs before you apply the rub. If you don't do this, you'll have a chewy mess - not Good Eats.

  2. Cut down on the amount of honey in the sauce. The 1:1 ketchup-to-honey ratio results in some mighty sweet sauce, too sweet for my taste buds. I cut down the amount of honey to around 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount specified in the recipe. I don't really measure the amounts of the ingredients that I put into the sauce, so that is rough estimate.

  3. Add some liquid smoke to the sauce. I use Colgin brand liquid smoke (hickory to be more precise). Actually, I forgot this in last night's batch of ribs.

  4. Add 2-3 parts of kosher salt to the Rub No. 9. Oh, I find that if one part=two tablespoons (see recipe for what I mean by "one part"), I get the right amount of rub for three large racks of ribs.

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, definitely one that I recommend that people try at least once.