Righteous Barbecued Ribs

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serves 4 | start to finish: 4 hours 45 minutes

Some might describe these pork ribs as “Texas Style” barbecue. Others have characterized them as “Oh my gosh—please tell me you have more of these.” Either way, they are remarkably easy to make. The lore of barbecue techniques and its myriad magic tricks can be intimidating. Mark my words, though: making incredible ribs without a ton of experience is within reach, even without a grill.

This recipe works great with both back ribs (sometimes called baby back or loin back ribs) or with spareribs. A rack of spareribs is larger and flatter but will still work with the amount of rub and sauce listed—there will simply be less sauce left over for serving. This is a forgiving recipe that is easy to double for a crowd.

for the ribs:
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more if you love the heat
2 1/2- to 3-pound rack of back ribs

for the sauce:
2 medium-to-large plums, preferably red-skinned and tart
2 cups water
1 cup catsup
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 250°.

Mix the first 8 ingredients together in a small bowl to make a rub.

Pull out a piece of aluminum foil twice the length of a rimmed sheet pan. Lay it lengthwise over the pan with the second half of the wrap flat along the counter. Unwrap the ribs and lay them on the aluminum foil-covered pan.

Liberally rub both sides of the ribs with the rub mix, pressing it into all the surfaces, including the edges. Position the ribs so that they are meat-side up (this will create a slightly domed shape). Pour the remainder of the rub over the ribs and spread it on the top, making a thick layer of spices. Some rub will not stick to the ribs but will eventually mingle with the liquid at the bottom of the pan during cooking.

Fold over the aluminum foil and crimp the edges so that the packet is completely sealed. Bake for 4 hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: slice the plums in half, remove the pits, and roughly chop the fruit. Do not peel the plums. Place them in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring the water and plums to boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 30 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and falling apart and most of the water has evaporated. Using a hand mixer or a blender, purée the cooked plum. The consistency should be that of thin applesauce. If your sauce is too watery, continue to cook the purée over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reduces to the correct consistency.

Add all of the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat; cool and refrigerate.

After 4 hours, take out the sheet pan and open the top layer of the aluminum foil, rolling it back loosely. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the ribs, spreading it around to completely coat the top and sides. Cook, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, either in a 350° oven or on a grill with medium-low fire and the lid closed.

Remove ribs from the oven or grill and carefully slice the ribs right there in the pan, either with a knife or kitchen shears. Serve the ribs with the extra sauce and lots of napkins.



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