I fully intended to give you a rundown of our July 4th menu today, complete with a couple of lovely side salads inspired by Mark Bittman’s picnics column from last week, but today’s fare was ribs and there’s just no way I can write about vegetables at a time like this.

Since I first posted about the grilled vegetable salad I found on The Kitchen Sink, it’s been a weekly fixture on our table, so I knew Kristin’s featured recipe for baby back ribs wouldn’t disappoint. As ever, through poor planning or simple willfulness, I adapted the recipe a bit, but can’t imagine them being any better even with the full complement of ingredients.

The adaptations were fairly minor, but worth pointing out. To start, as embarrassing as it is for a Southern girl to admit, I have no bourbon in the house. Lucky for me, there is a lot of Jack leftover from some party or other, so that went into the glaze instead.

Though I seem to have an extremely well-stocked spice rack (okay, well-stocked spice bins), my refrigerator is lacking in the saucy condiments department, so I went without the plum and hoisin sauces called for in the glaze. I thought the finished product would lack some depth because of these omissions, so I tinkered a bit on the front end, baking the ribs in a favorite marinade for flank steak — equal parts pineapple juice and soy sauce with a hefty dose of garlic — instead of the stand-alone pineapple juice in the recipe.

Gil and I ran out while the ribs were baking and we were treated to the most mouthwatering smell as we walked up to the front door two hours later. Poor Rufus was left alone with the baking ribs and was beside himself with pork lust by the time we got home; to reward his patience, I gave him a tiny piece of meat with a little fat attached, fresh from the oven.

And I’m not too proud to admit I rewarded myself, too. Mmmmmmm…

At this point, it was a simple thing to fire up the grill, brush the ribs generously with the glaze, and grill them until the crispy bits outnumbered the soft.

As Rufus would (and did) say, “NOM! NOM! NOM!”

recipe after the jump

Bourbon-Glazed Baby Back Ribs adapted from Bon Appetit via The Kitchen Sink

5 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup bourbon or Tennessee whiskey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 2 1/4- to 2 1/2-pound racks baby back pork ribs
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 large cloves garlic, minced

Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. (Do ahead: Glaze can be made 1 day ahead.) Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place long sheet of heavy-duty foil on each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Sprinkle rib racks on all sides with pepper. Place 1 rib rack on each foil sheet. Fold up sides of each foil sheet around rib rack to form boat-like shape. Mix together pineapple juice, soy sauce and garlic, and pour over each rib rack. Fold up foil to seal packets. Bake until ribs are tender, about 2 hours. Remove ribs from foil packets. Transfer to roasting pan; pour any juices from foil over and cool. (Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.)

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Cut each rib rack in half. Grill until browned, brushing frequently with glaze and turning often, about 10 minutes. Cut racks between bones into ribs.

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