It is always a toss-up: pork or beef ribs at a barbecue? Personally, I can never refuse good barbecued anything. I love it all! Since most people do not own a smoker, I have devised a recipe that will give you the most tender ribs possible without one. They are easy to prepare, and most of the work can be done days in advance. Ask your butcher to save you the best, meatiest ribs from racks of large pork or beef rib-eyes, and search the international or specialty foods section of your supermarket for a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Chipotle peppers are smoked, dried jalapeños, and they will unlock the secret to great, homemade barbecued foods. If used sparingly, they impart fantastic background notes of smokiness and spice.
- 12 large, meaty country ribs, bone-in (beef or pork)
- Salt and pepper
- Canola oil (you are going to need a lot, buy a gallon—it keeps)
- 2 cups ketchup
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 heaping tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce;
- 1 pinch ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 ounces (¼ cup) orange juice
For the ribs
The first step, cooking the ribs, needs to happen at least one day before the barbecue. To begin, season the ribs generously with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Place the ribs in a roasting pan deep enough to hold them all, and add just enough canola oil to cover them completely. Bake slowly for 3 to 4 hours, checking periodically to make sure the oil is hot but not boiling. Adjust heat if needed.
When the meat starts to pull away, leaving a clean bone at the bottom of the rib, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Cover the pan with foil and put the whole works in the fridge. The ribs will keep for several days, as long as the oil is completely covering them.
On the day of the barbecue, an hour before serving, take the pan out of the fridge and place in a 225°F oven for 10 minutes to make the ribs easier to remove from the oil. Transfer the ribs to a colander set over a platter and drain off any excess oil.
For the sauce (which can be made several days in advance)
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Adjust the seasoning, adding more spices, more honey, or more vinegar to suit your taste.
Heat the grill to medium-high.
Season the ribs with additional salt and pepper and place on the grill.
Grill the ribs for 2 minutes per side, then start basting them with the sauce.
Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, turning and basting every 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat if the ribs start to blacken too much. (Because of the high sugar content, they are supposed to burn a little.) When the sauce adheres to the ribs and begins to caramelize, the ribs are done.
Coat the ribs one last time with the sauce and serve.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.