Barbecue. What is it? Some say native Americans in Florida invented it by placing food in a hole with hot rocks. If you ask anyone from the Midwest, he will tell you that it was invented somewhere west of Pittsburgh. Some say in order to barbeque, one must cook over an open flame; others say indirect heat.
I always thought my uncle had one out in the backyard.
So really what is barbeque? Well, as a chef for more than 25 years, I can tell you that I’m not too sure either. But I do have a few tips.
First, never boil the ribs. Second, never ever boil the ribs.
Despite whatever you have heard about plunging ribs in boiling water, when ribs are boiled, the natural flavor and juices are left in the water and it is also harder for them to absorb flavor from your sauce because they are now waterlogged.
So always keep your ribs covered in a low dry heat. You can crisp them up later.
Finally? Leave lots of time for this recipe.
2 12-bone pork St. Louis style ribs
1 tlbs. black pepper
1 tlbs. garlic powder
1 tlbs. Paprika
3 tbls. chili powder
1 tlbs. dried thyme
1 tlbs. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (more for spicier)
3 ounces bacon, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup white onions, diced small
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cups catsup
1/2 cup water
6 ounces pure Vermont maple syrup
l tbls. chili powder
1 tbls. light brown Sugar
2 tbls. spice rub
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Rinse off the ribs and pat them dry with paper towels. In a nice-sized bowl, mix all the dry rub ingredients, making sure you have no sugar lumps. Massage the rub into the ribs on both sides. Shake off any excess rub.
Lay the seasoned ribs on a rack fat side up in another pan. Cover them tightly with aluminum foil, place them in the oven and cook for about three to three-and-a-half hours, rotating the every hour or so.
This is a good time to make your wet sauce (see recipe below).
You will know when the ribs are ready when the meat pulls away from the bone about one-quarter of an inch. The longer you cook them the softer they will get.
Remove them from the oven and let them rest for about 20 minutes. Now bring the oven up to low broil or fire up your grill outside. Lather both sides of the ribs with plenty of sauce and put them back in the oven (or on the grill) on a new clean pan fat side down this time. Let the sauce bake into the ribs for a few minutes and then add more sauce. Let them go until they look awesome. Cool, slice and eat.
And that’s ribs, Brooklyn-style.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and saute the onions and bacon over medium low heat until the onions have a little color and the bacon is tender, but not crispy. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix them well. Let the sauce cook for about an hour and 15 minutes on a really low flame. The sauce should be just about simmering, hot enough to let the flavors develop, but not too hot so it burns. When the sauce is done, it should have a thick consistency. Use an immersion blender and puree the onions and bacon for a smooth sauce. But if you like it chunky, leave it chunky.
Joe Raiola is the executive chef at Morton’s The Steakhouse [339 Adams St. between Willoughby and Tillary streets in Downtown, (718) 596-2700].