Of Ribs and Reality- “Velvet” Ribs

Today you all are going to get a tiny glimpse here and there of the mess that can be the Humble Food Snob’s kitchen. I was sick with a cold when I made this food last month. And, naturally, I didn’t get sick until the ribs and steaks for Ron’s birthday dinner were already thawed past the point of safely refreezing. We all know that I’m not super fussed about my photography here on the blog, but that day I seriously had zero f*%$s to give and yet I REALLY wanted to share this recipe with you all. I even had a request some time ago for my rib recipe to appear here, so I couldn’t just let this occasion slip away since I don’t make ribs often. I said all that to say this: the photos in today’s post are… “hyper real”, you could say. Those are dirty dishes under that tray of ribs. My kitchen was so trashed that the ONLY space I had to work was at my sink. I tried to crop the dishes out, but they’re there. Welcome to my world šŸ˜‰

I’ll continue being honest (“real” if you prefer) and tell you that you don’t HAVE to use a rub on your ribs. You could just hit them with some salt and pepper on both sides and let the sauce you finish them with do all the work. They won’t be as awesome, but they’ll still be nice and tender. I’ll include the recipe for my wet rub at the end of the post.

So get out a full sheet pan. If you don’t have one, buy one- it’s a fantastic investment. If you can’t right now, use what you’ve got. Either way, make sure every inch is covered with heavy duty aluminum foil.

You can get your ribs from anywhere you trust for meat. I get mine from Sam’s because they are a good price for 3 full racks of baby back ribs, but I also have a butcher shop I love too.

Take your ribs out of the package and lay them on the pan so that they all fit and will be covered easily by foil:

You have two choices: 1) cut away the layer of silver skin which is the connective tissue on the back of the ribs or 2) leave it where it is and don’t worry about it. For this method we will be slow cooking the ribs and the silver skin has never been a problem; it’s broken down by the slow initial cooking.

Now take a small amount of your rub (about 2 tablespoons for each rack with my recipe) and put it on the backs of the racks. Rub it on until you have the entire back portion covered:

You don’t need very much on the backs because there isn’t any meat to flavor- you just want the seasoning to be even throughout. Flip the racks over and divide the rest of the rub evenly between them, rubbing to coat completely:

With that done, get another huge piece of heavy duty aluminum foil for the top and crimp the top and bottom pieces together so that nothing can get in or out. Seal that baby!

This will need to be refrigerated for, at the very least, 2 hours and up to about 8 hours before baking. As I had a fridge full of groceries and cheesecake (Ron’s favorite for his birthday), I had no room for a gigantic tray of ribs. However, one of the great things about living in northern Wisconsin in the winter is that when you don’t have room in the fridge all you have to do is walk outside and the entirety of the outdoors is yours to utilize:

Once your ribs have marinated long enough, turn your oven to 300 degrees, put the tray in, and walk away. For how long depends on how big your rib racks are. If they are smaller than full size, you might get away with 2 hours. I say “might” because I have no idea. There are 5 of us in my family, so I’ve never done anything less than the 3 big racks. For these you will need to leave them alone in the oven for 3 to 3 & 1/2 hours. Don’t even open the oven door for 3 hours. Seriously. I let them go the full time and they are literally fall off the bone tender.

When the ribs are almost done in the oven, set up your grill in whatever way is normal for you. We use a regular grill with hardwood charcoal and absolutely love it. And yes; we grill even in February after having gotten more than a foot of snow. We needed to get the grill out of the garage, so…

My dad (driving) and Ron (waiting his turn to drive) got the snow blower out and facilitated awesomeness šŸ™‚

Once your grill is ready, carefully transfer the ribs to the grill. This will be tricky because they are so ridiculously tender, but it can be done. Slather both sides with whatever BBQ sauce you prefer and get a little charring going. Alternatively, you could just put the sauce on the ribs and use your broiler. Either works just fine. If you go to this link, you’ll find my recipe for some seriously fantastic sauce, but it has to be made at least a week in advance and it requires a good chunk of the afternoon to make. I used a super simple Dr. Pepper based BBQ sauce for these ribs, the recipe for which I will include along with my wet rib rub.

So you’ve rubbed, baked, slathered, and grilled your ribs- you’re ready to eat! You end up with this:

Ribs that will melt in your mouth and feel like velvet on your tongue. I didn’t have to cut any of these ribs apart to make portions; they separated themselves because they were so tender. They are worth every penny for the meat and every minute of prep. And here’s a last little bit of reality for you: I don’t even like ribs.

The Recipe- Wet Rub for Ribs:

3 T Brown Sugar

2 T Salt

1 T Seasoned Salt

1 1/2 t Chili Powder

3 t Paprika

1 1/2 t Cumin

3 t Oregano

3 t Cinnamon

1 Small Onion, Diced Fine

8-10 Cloves Garlic, Minced

2 t Liquid Smoke

The Method:

*Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until all ingredients are uniformly wet.

The Recipe- Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce:

12 oz Dr. Pepper

2 C Ketchup

1 C Brown Sugar

1 1/2 T Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 t Liquid Smoke

1-2 t Kosher Salt (Start with 1 t and add more to taste)

1 t Chili Powder

1 1/2 t Garlic Powder

1/2 t (heaping) Onion Powder

The Method:

*Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

*Lower heat and simmer until reduced by about half, stirring frequently.

*Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

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