Nancy E. McIntyre, Ph.D.

Nancy’s “famous” ribs

(adapted from various sources: the dry rub and braising liquid are adapted from "Good Eats," the BBQ sauce is from Bon Appetit, and the rest is from trial and error) 

  1. Make the dry rub. The recipe below makes enough for several slabs of ribs. Leftover rub freezes well. In a small bowl, mix:

               8 Tbsp brown sugar, tightly packed
               3 Tbsp salt (I use kosher)
               1 Tbsp chili powder
               1 tsp cayenne pepper
               ½ tsp ground black pepper
               ½ tsp Old Bay
               ½ tsp onion powder
  2. Prep the ribs. I use baby-backs. Peel to remove the membrane from the back side (concave side) of the ribs. This is a hassle but is a secret to tender ribs, so don’t skip it. Then pat dry the ribs. I usually cut the slab in half or thirds for easier handling after this point.
  3. Slather all sides of the ribs with a thin layer of yellow ballpark mustard. Then pat on the dry rub. Refrigerate the ribs while you do steps 4-6.
  4. Make a braising liquid: in a microwave-safe bowl, mix 1 cup white wine, 2 Tbsp cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp honey, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Nuke for 1 min or until the honey is melted.
  5. Preheat oven to 225 F.
  6. Line a sheet pan with foil, then take another piece of foil and lay it, shiny side down, onto the pan.
  7. Place the ribs onto the foil and fold the foil around them to make a loose packet. Pour in the braising liquid and seal the foil loosely.
  8. Braise in the oven for 3 hours or until tender.
  9. While the ribs cook, make the BBQ sauce. You could skip this step and use bottled BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s). But the recipe below (Bon Appetit’s Key West BBQ sauce recipe) is very nice, although some of the ingredients may be difficult to find in some areas:

               3 c ketchup
               2 c (packed) brown sugar
               ¾ c mango juice
               ¾ c passion fruit juice
               ¾ c orange juice
               ¾ c pineapple juice
               ½ c lime juice
               ½ c lemon juice
               ½ c grapefruit juice
               ¼ c minced onion
               1.5 tsp dry mustard
               ½ tsp cayenne
               ½ tsp salt
               ½ tsp ground cumin
               2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch

    Whisk all ingredients except cornstarch in a large saucepan. Transfer about ¼ cup of this mixture to a small bowl; add cornstarch to that and whisk until dissolved. Then pour the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce comes to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Boil for 1 min, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and serve.
  10. Remove ribs from foil. Brush on the BBQ sauce and finish ribs on the grill. Take care not to let the sauce burn. The ribs are cooked—the grilling is just to caramelize the BBQ sauce and add a smoky flavor.