Friday, April 13, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Spare Ribs and Barbecue Sauce

I keep looking out the window, knowing that it's possible - likely, even - that I'll be staring at a snowstorm some time this month. But while the weather is being cooperative, cooking outdoors is on the agenda.

I decided that a rack of spareribs was next on the grill.

But what are ribs without sauce? This one's pretty simple to make, but it's got great flavor. The big bonus is that since you're making it yourself, you can make it sweeter or more tart, to your own taste. Want a spicier sauce? that's easy too. A pinch of cayenne or a few drops of your favorite hot sauce can add that extra heat.

Unlike some barbecue sauce recipes that start with ketchup, this one goes ones step further back and starts with tomato puree. You could also start with tomato sauce, and cook it down a bit more to thicken it, if you don't have puree on hand.

This recipe makes plenty for several racks of ribs, with extra to pass at the table. Or use it on chicken, beef, or whatever else you like.

I know some barbecue purists will say that these are grilled ribs rather than barbecued, but they're ribs with barbecue sauce. They're Barbecue Ribs - no "d" at the end - not BarbecueD. And seriously, my mother always boiled her ribs, then baked them. At least these became acquainted with fire.

If you have a gas grill, it's easy to adjust the temperature while you're cooking and turn burners on and off. If you're cooking on a charcoal grill, you'll want to arrange the coals so they're on the sides of the grill and the center is empty, so you can cook the ribs on indirect heat.

Spare Ribs with Barbecue Sauce

1 rack spare ribs
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 10.75-ounce can tomato puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

At least 30 minutes before cooking, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat, stirring as needed, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Take it off the heat and set aside to cool, then refrigerate if you won't be using it soon. You can make the sauce a day ahead, if you like.

Cook the ribs briefly on direct heat on the grill, just to brown it, then move it off the heat to cook on indirect heat. If you have a gas grill, turn the heat to low. Cover the grill and cook until the ribs are tender - depending on how meaty the ribs are, how low the heat is, and how tender you like them, this can be as little as an hour or up to two - or more.

About 15 minutes before the ribs are done, transfer some of the sauce to a small bowl and use that to baste the ribs. Baste again after about 10 minutes.

Remove the ribs from the grill and serve with the reserved sauce.

For more information about Whole Foods Friday, see the tab at the top.