Sweet and Sticky Baby Back Ribs
Drawing on my childhood near Memphis, where ribs were ever-present, I have included a recipe for them in every cookbook I’ve ever published. The method is always the same—why mess with tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs? For me, the fun is in switching up the sauce. Here, the mix is sweet, sticky, salty and spicy.
SERVES 4 TO 6
1 onion, sliced
2 racks baby back ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds each)
1 (12-ounce) beer
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chile paste
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup strong coffee, cold
Juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons Sriracha
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Spread the onion on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and place the ribs on top. Pour the beer over and around. Sprinkle generously with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven to bake, undisturbed, until the ribs are tender, 2 hours.
While the ribs are cooking, make the sauce by combining the ketchup, sugar, chile paste, chile sauce, vinegar, molasses, coffee, orange juice and Sriracha in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
About 30 minutes before ready to grill, build a fire. If using a charcoal grill, let the coals burn to a grey ash with a slight red glow. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium. Remove the ribs from the pan and baste with the sauce. Place the ribs on the grill, cover and cook, turning and basting occasionally, until lightly charred, about 30 minutes.
Slice the racks into 3 to 4 rib segments, pile on a platter, and serve warm with extra sauce on the side to spoon over if desired.