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The Guy’s Guy Oven Babyback Ribs

February 22, 2012

I feel very comfortable stating that most guys have “food quests” that they undertake.  It is not always consciously, but we do.  Just think about how many times you’ve thought, “Where can I get the best burger/pizza/steak/buffet/etc in town?”  If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but compare all the burgers/pizza/steak/buffet/etc. you’ve ever had to one another.  I can’t simply enjoy the burger/pizza/steak/buffet/etc.  I’m eating at that specific moment.  I have to think back and examine whether or not I’m having a significant culinary experience – finding THE BEST BURGER/PIZZA/STEAK/BUFFET/ETC. I have ever had in my life!  And when you find that you have found food nirvana, it is a stupendous feeling.

So, I am here to tell you that these ribs should be in every guys cooking bag of tricks (or cooking toolbox if you feel that a “bag of tricks” is just not macho enough for you!)  They are the best oven baked ribs you will ever try!  Notice, I didn’t say that they are the “best ribs ever”.  I specifically qualified that they are oven baked.  In order to attain the “best ribs ever” title, any rib that competes in that category would have to be barbecued.  That means using a pit or a smoker to cook the ribs for hours, low and slow until a unique bit of pork perfection has been achieved.  I have not yet found the right combination of factors to make the “best ribs ever” happen at home – but you can bet I’m trying (and that my family is enjoying the hell out of eating my experiments).  I get closer with each try.  All that aside, I have reached a special kind of pork perfection with these ribs.  There is one caveat that I need to put out there right up front.  These ribs are the “fall of the bone” type of ribs.  I realize that in some competitions, that level of tenderness is not considered right.  I don’t care.  The ribs I like have to let me pull apart the meat with just my hands – no knives allowed!  So, if you prefer ribs that are what you would find at a barbecue competition, look away NOW!  But, if barbecue, falling off the bone ribs are right up your alley, then read on fair web surfer!

Now, while I believe I have made this recipe my own with numerous changes over the years, I have to give props to the book and chef that got me started Alton Brown and his book I’m Just Here For the Food.  His ideas and thought process went a long way toward making it possible for me to make this little piece of heaven come into my home.  Most of the changes I made were around making the ribs taste more “barbecue-like”.  I strongly encourage you to try making these at home.  They take a little bit of patience and planning, but you will not be disappointed.

The FaT Guy’s Guy Oven Babyback Ribs                   Print the FaT Guy’s Guy Oven Babyback Ribs

Based on Alton Brown’s No-Backyard Baby Back Ribs from I’m Just Here For the Food

serves 1-4  (This one seriously depends on who is eating!)

Rub Ingredients

5 Tbsp Brown Sugar

3 Tbsp Chile Powder

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 1/2 tsp Ground Thyme

3/4 tsp Cayenne

3/4 tsp Garam Masala (an Indian spice combination)

3/4 tsp Cocoa Powder

Rib Ingredients

1 slab of Babyback Ribs

1/2 cup Orange Juice

1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce (your favorite or make your own)

Start by making your barbecue dry rub.  Using a zip top bag or tupperware-type container, mix all the ingredients.  You want to make sure you can shake the mix up very well and use it again later.  The amounts listed can be doubled, but this amount should yield enough to coat 2 full racks of ribs – the minimum that can be made in my household!  You will need to have some left over to use to finish the ribs.  If you have any left over at the end, it will store very well for a good 3-4 months.

Now, you will need to prepare the “container” for your ribs.  We are basically going to create an aluminum cocoon that will keep in our liquids during cooking.  Start by cutting 4 sheets of aluminum foil.  The sheets should be about 6-8 inches longer than your rack of ribs and all roughly the same size.  Lay them all one on top of the other with their long edges even.  Holding one of those long edges together, fold over about 1/2 inch of foil.  Now, fold the 1/2 inch you just bent in half.  Finally, fold the whole thing over on itself so that you have created a seal along one edge.  Looking at the edge you did not fold over, separate two sheets from each side and open them up.  You should now have a double-wide aluminum foil bed with the seam running down the middle on which to lay your ribs.  Just place that gorgeous rack of ribs on the foil.

Your raw ribs may have a membrane over their bony side call the silverskin or silver skin.  If your ribs do come with it, it should be removed.  Why you may ask?  Great question.  Basically, this membrane prevents the rib meat on that side from absorbing the flavors of the rub.  Will it hurt my ribs if I don’t remove it?  Another great question.  (You’re full of them today!)  While many chefs would disagree, the answer is no.  I’ve made these ribs plenty of times before I even know what a silver skin was or that it should be removed with no ill effects.  Basically, by the end of the cooking time, the mixture will break the silver skin down enough as to not make it a problem.  All that being said, when it’s there, take it off.  It couldn’t be simpler to do.  After putting the rounded side of the ribs down and using a knife at one end of the ribs, lift up the edge of the membrane until you can get a grip on it.  Then, hold the ribs with one hand, and pull the skin off with the other.  As the YouTube link above shows, there’s lots of different ways to do it – all very simple.

From here on out, things get very simple.  The only thing we need is a little time.  With the meat or rounded side facing up from the foil, generously sprinkle your rub over the ribs.  Press down lightly to ensure good coverage.  Plenty of rub will fall off when you flip it over.  Don’t worry.   Turn the ribs over, and do the same for the other side.  Now, we need to finish the “rib cocoon”.  Taking hold of the double sheeted long ends, bring them together on top of the ribs so that the edges evenly come together.  Just like you did before when we made the first seam for the foil bed, crimp them together by folding down about 1/2 inch.  With that first crimp to get you started just roll the foil over itself until you reached the ribs themselves and press down so that the package is flush with the ribs.  To finish this, simply fold over the ends without getting too fancy.  (We’ll get a bit more fancy later on, but not now.)  Place your package on a pan, slide it into your refrigerator and let it marinate for 2 -12 hours.  The longer the better.

We’re almost ready to cook.  Preheat your oven to 350’F.   Mix your orange juice and barbecue sauce together in a bowl or measuring cup.  Take your ribs out of the refrigerator.  On one end of the packet, you will fold or roll up the end so that it’s tight and waterproof.  At the other end, open it up to form a funnel.  Tilting the package up, pour the OJ/BBQ sauce mixture into the packet and seal this end tightly, rolling/folding it together.  You want to distribute the liquid evenly to rock everything back and forth a couple of times.  Don’t get too violent here.  You’re only trying to even things out.  Place it back on your pan and pop it into the oven.

Bake at this temperature for 1 hour.  When your timer does reach the 1 hour mark, you will lower the temp to 250’F and reset it to 2 more hours.  When the timer goes off for the second time, get ready to get the ribs out.  I say “get ready” because you need to be careful here.  If you created a good seal, the package will have puffed up looking like a pillow.  (It should go without saying that if you didn’t do it right or there was a hole in your package it won’t puff up, but hopefully enough liquid stayed inside to get the job done.  It’s happened to me before and everything still turned out OK, but there’s a reason we double-layer the foil!)  Additionally, some of the steam will have leaked out into the over no matter how good a seal you form.  So, when you open that oven door, don’t reach in immediately or you will get a quick steam bath to the face.  It won’t kill you but if you don’t expect it, it will scare the crap out of you.  Just wait about 5 seconds with the door open and you should be fine.

Once you have the rib packet out of the oven, you want to carefully open one of the ends and pour out the liquid inside and discard.  This stuff is seriously hot so be careful.  Unwrap your ribs from the foil.  At this point, you will need to move your oven rack to the highest position that will still allow you to put your pan with the ribs in.  Then, set your broiler to “High”.  Take your ribs and place them rounded side up on the pan without the foil.  Now, using some of your favorite barbecue sauce, brush on a layer over the ribs.  We’re going to do this 2-3 times to form a good carmelized “bark”.  Put these ribs under the broiler for about a minute.  You should see them bubbling and getting a little darker.  Pull your pan out and repeat the glazing process.  You can stop here but that 3rd time does make a difference.

Here is the finish line.  Take your finished ribs out.  Let them cool for a couple of minutes and then dig in.  Feel free to accompany them with generous amounts of potato-related products (potato salad, bake potatoes or french fries).

Bon Appetite!

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