Tuesday, June 28, 2011


On a recent weekend, when the humidity was so suffocatingly high that going outside felt like having a hot, wet, blanket thrown over one's head, I had the brilliant idea to make baby back ribs. In the oven.

We always use Alton Brown's method, in which the racks of ribs are marinated overnight in a dry rub, then braised in a slow oven for a few hours. The result is always succulent, fall-off-the-bone, finger-lickin', lip-smackin' deliciousness, so why try anything new? But I did. Oh, not in the cooking method, but rather in the flavoring.

My brother, who is currently low-carbing it, was coming over to partake of the porcine delight, so I wanted to use as little sweetener as possible on these ribs. As luck would have it, Mary Sue Milliken won the penultimate challenge of the season in that week's episode of Top Chef Masters and she did it by making baby back ribs with a modicum of sweetener. Following her example, I constructed my dry rub sans the usual brown sugar. Her sauce, in which she used only a scant three tablespoons of maple syrup, became the inspiration for my sauce, made with fresh rhubarb. I figured rhubarb was at least as tangy as her tomatillos; however I did not take into account that while tomatillos contain a high percentage of water, rhubarb instead is very fibrous. So my sauce was a bit thick and dense - not to mention quite a bit less-sweet than we're used to - but it was still rather good - bright and tangy in a mustard sauce kinda way.

RhubarbBQ-glazed baby backs served over hominy stewed with onions and garlic.

RhubarbBQ Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
pinch salt
5 cloves garlic, crushed
6 stalks rhubarb, stringy bits removed with a vegetable peeler, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, minced or 1 tablespoon jalapeno powder
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions and pinch of salt. Sweat the onions until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rhubarb, jalapeno, ginger, and water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium. Cover pan and cook until rhubarb is completely cooked down, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat and, using a blender or immersion blender, purée the rhubarb mixture. Add maple syrup and paprika. Cook on medium low heat for another 20 minutes until mixture has been reduced to a thick sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When I tried to cut the racks of ribs into smaller portions, I wished I hadn't followed the technique to the letter. With a bit less cooking, the ribs would have been easier to cut, and thus neater to photograph. But who cares - the flavor is what matters, right?

Posted by theminx on Minxeats.com.