Baby back ribs, cut from the area near a hog’s backbone, are leaner and cook faster than their larger cousins, spareribs. A moist heat cooking method like braising in beer produces a tender and juicy rack of ribs. A dry rub and using a hearty beer add flavor to the meat. Serve the ribs as an appetizer, or pair them with make-ahead sides like cold pasta salad and baked beans for an easy weekend meal.
Things You'll Need
- Brown sugar
- Black pepper
- Sharp paring knife
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Baking sheet
- Dark beer
- Green onion or shallots
- Liquid smoke
Make a dry rub by combining brown sugar, cayenne pepper, onion powder, salt and freshly ground pepper. This adds a spicy barbecued flavor to the finished ribs.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, take the ribs out of the package and check the bone side for the tough membrane called silver skin. If your ribs have this layer of skin, slip a sharp knife under one end of the skin and grasp the skin with the fingers of one hand while you slide your knife between the skin and bones with the other.
Place a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the ribs in on a baking sheet. Put a rack of ribs on the foil then liberally dust the ribs with the dry rub. Turn the rack over and dust the other side. Loosely fold the foil over the ribs and refrigerate them for about an hour.
Make the beer braising liquid. Pour a bottle of dark beer such as a porter or stout into a small saucepan. Add peeled and chopped garlic, green onion or shallots, and a dash of liquid smoke. Bring the ingredients to a gentle boil and cook for two or three minutes.
Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and form the aluminum foil into a packet that can be tightly sealed. Before closing the top of the packet, pour in the beer braising liquid. Close the packets and put them in the preheated oven on the baking sheet.
Cook the ribs for about 2 1/2 hours. Remove them from the oven and carefully open the packet. Place the ribs on a platter or cutting board and cut them into sections.
Tips & Warnings
- Leaving the silver skin on won’t affect the flavor or cooking time. Removing it makes it easier to separate the ribs.
- You can cook multiple racks of ribs in the oven at the same time.
- Save the braising liquid and heat it over medium-high heat until it reduces to a glaze. Toss the rib portions in the glaze before serving. Since the braising liquid cooked in the oven with the ribs, it's unlikely there would be cross-contamination from the initial contact with the uncooked ribs, but reducing the liquid removes any chance of foodborne illness.
- The packet will be full of hot liquid when it comes out of the oven. Open it over a large bowl or in a deep dish if you’re concerned about spilling the liquid.
- Too much liquid smoke will overpower the flavor of the meat.
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