Bourbon-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Dsc01156 It’s difficult to write this post while I have the song from the "Chili’s Baby Back Ribs" commercial running through my head, but I’m afraid that for the rest of my life, whenever anyone utters those three little words, that infectious song will return and plant itself firmly in my mind and refuse to leave.  Thanks Chili’s. 

Ribs are a great party food to make, especially for an occasion like the Super Bowl.  They are easy to eat with your hands, which is important, since I have yet to attend a Super Bowl party where everyone eats while watching the game from the dining room table.  Ribs are also something that you can prepare for the most part ahead of time and then finish making a few minutes before serving.  Hot, room temperature, or even cold, ribs still taste fantastic, so you can actually sit down and enjoy the game (or the commercials, if that’s your preference.)

Ribs have a reputation for being extremely difficult to cook just right.  This is usually true if you are cooking them on a barbecue grill, but there is another preparation method that will guarantee you a result of falling-off-the-bone, tender, juicy ribs.  This fool-proof method is to slow cook the ribs in the oven.  By wrapping the lightly seasoned ribs tightly in foil with cooking liquid (in this case, pineapple juice) poured over them for tenderizing, the meat stays nice and moist.  You can do some basic preparation in the beginning and then forget about the ribs for four hours as they cook.  For a nice caramelized crispy coat you simply glaze and broil the ribs for a few minutes just before serving. 

This bourbon-spiked glaze is full of great flavor and it really makes the dish.  These ribs would make a great dinner entree too; serve them with some steamed rice and broccoli for a well rounded meal.  Oh, and I sincerely apologize if you now have the Chili’s song going through your head. Here are some tips for delicious ribs:

  • The glaze can be reduced up to one day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.  The ribs can be slow-cooked one day in advance and then covered and refrigerated.  Remove the ribs from the foil packets, transfer to a roasting pan, pour any juices from the foil on top, and cool prior to refrigerating.
  • Hot chili paste, such as sambal oelek, is Indonesian and can be found in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores.  If you don’t have this ingredient, then substitute an equal amount of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Plum sauce is a light brown sweet and sour condiment used in Chinese cuisine.  You can substitute 1 1/2 tablespoons of apricot or orange preserves and 1 teaspoon vinegar.
  • Orange juice may be substituted for the pineapple juice.
  • If you don’t have heavy-duty foil,  then just double up on regular aluminum foil.
  • If you don’t have the time to slow-cook the ribs for 4 hours, you can cook them at 350F for about 1-1 1/2 hours and then either finish them off by broiling, as directed below, or by placing them on a barbecue grill, brushing with glaze and turning often, for about 10 minutes.
  • This glaze would also go very well with grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

Bourbon-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Serves 6 as an entreeDsc01133


3/4  cup honey

1/3 cup bourbon

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons plum sauce

1 tablespoon molasses

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons hot chili paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Two 2 1/2 pound racks pork baby back ribs

2 cups pineapple juice

Combine the first 11 ingredients (through black pepper) in a heavy medium saucepan and whisk to combine.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer the sauce until it has reduced and is slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 225F degrees.  Place a long sheet of heavy-duty foil on each of two large rimmed baking sheets.  Sprinkle the rib racks on all sides with salt and pepper.  Place one rib rack on each foil sheet.  Fold up the sides of each foil sheet around the rib rack to form a boat-like shape.  Pour 1 cup of pineapple juice over each rib rack.  Fold up the foil to seal the packets.  Bake until the ribs are very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Preheat the broiler to high.  Open up the foil packets and fold back the foil so that the ribs are exposed.  Generously coat the rib racks with some of the reduced glaze and then broil them (still on the baking sheets) for 2-3 minutes, until bubbly.  Remove the ribs from the oven, apply another coat of the glaze, and then broil for 2-3 minutes longer to achieve a nice caramelized surface.  Cut the racks between the bones into ribs and serve.

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