I was sitting at home on Saturday night after a delightful meal at Great Lakes Pizza, when I realized that I didn't have any plans for the Super Bowl. I had an open invite to go out to the burbs, so I hopped on that. I needed to cook something for the party, so I started pouring through my many many cookbooks.
I only made chili once in my life, so I got myself all prepared to revolutionize the world of chili. I was going to cook down some oxtail and pork shoulder with some peppers to make the meat portion. Then I was going to cook some onions and tomatoes until they were carmelized and delicious. In essence, it was going to be like the bolognese sauce I made about a month; only modified with peppers and chile powder and some other tweaks to turn it into chili. I also have a dream about replacing beans with small diced potatoes in the chili.
Alas, someone else was making chili. Undeterred, I set about revising my plan. I wasn't going to have time to make pulled pork or brisket for that matter, so I settled on ribs. I always like putting a rub on the ribs and cooking them with the rub still on there. Essentially, I cooked it in the same way I make pulled pork, but on an abbreviated schedule. I made a mop that I brushed on it for the last 4 hours to get a nice crust. Here is the recipe for the ribs.
2 racks of baby back ribs (though you could also use spare ribs)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp chile powder
1/2 tspn cayenne pepper
1 tspn oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tspn cumin seeds, crushed
12 juniper berries
1/2 cup apple juice
spicy brown mustard
a bunch of cherry wood chips, soaking in a bowl of water
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tspn cayenne pepper
1 tbsp chile powder
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1. Turn ribs over so the bottom side is facing up. Starting at the thin end of the rack, scrape the membrane off the bone. Once it comes off, start pulling at it until you can pull the whole thing off of the ribs in one piece.
2. Combine brown sugar, chile powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano in a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Rub a thin layer of mustard on both sides of the ribs (this will help the rub stick as well as give it a nice crust).
4. Pour the rub all over the ribs and spread it on into an even layer. If you have time, cover and refrigerate overnight. If not, make sure that it sits for at least 2 hours. Before you put the ribs on, put the apple juice in an aluminum pan that is big enough to hold both racks. Put the juniper berries in the juice, then put the ribs on top.
5. Start a charcoal grill about an hour before you are ready to get the ribs cooking. When coals are lit, push the pile all to one side of the grill. Be sure that the bottom vents on the grill are open wide.
6. Once the coals die down to low, put the pan with the ribs on the grill, opposite the side of the coals. Cover with the lid (vents wide open, holes above the meat). You should try to maintain the temperature around 250 degrees, though you should be sure it never goes above 300.
7. During the first hour of cooking, make the mop.
8. Combine all mop ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously until combined.
9. Cook ribs for 5 hours, adding a handful of wet cherry wood chips and a little more coal to the grill every 30 minutes. When you add the wood and coal to the fire, brush the ribs all over with the mop.
10. Be sure to turn the pan 180 degrees every hour or so.
11. It is tempting, but do not brush the ribs with bbq sauce at any point.
You can make your own bbq sauce too. I put up a recipe for a fantastic and pretty easy bbq sauce a few months back, so check it out.