So, last weekend I made a sticky, sweet rib dinner. I didn’t think to take photographic evidence until well into the process, so these are more end results than anything else.
These ribs were to be marinated in a honey lager brine for as much as 24 hours, so I started them on June 30. Two racks of baby back ribs went into the brine at about 10:00 p.m. I also looked for side dishes that used beer and came up with a recipe for baked beans that called for dark beer. I substituted more honey lager to complement the ribs. Between the brine, a mop sauce, the beans and a beer/water mixture I used during cooking to keep the ribs moist, I used almost six bottles of beer in this meal. Here’s the evidence:
“But Dave,” you say, “there are more than six empties there!” And to you I would say, “How very astute!” Suffice to say that some of the honey brown lager also found it’s way into Dave’s tummy.
The beans were a new dish for me. One can of black beans and one each of white and red kidney beans we’re at the heart of it (duh), but I also fried up some bacon and some leftover pancetta, then browned some onions and garlic in the bacon fat. That got spiced up with some serrano peppers and some bbq rub (secret recipe) and then I added the bacon back and mixed it all into the beans. Some brown sugar, molasses, 2.5 bottles or beer and a dash of liquid smoke, and then we let it simmer for 3 hours. Here’s the result:
So the beans went on about the same time as the ribs, which, if you recall, had been brined overnight in a beer and bbq rub brine. As it turns out, I put too much salt in for the duration that I left the ribs in the brine. You really only need to brine ribs for about 4-6 hours, but I was treating it like a marinade, too. The meat came out juicy and tender, but it was a bit on the salty side. Here are a couple of shots of the ribs nearing completion:
That’s more beer in the spray bottle, which I sprayed on the ribs every half hour after the the first hour. All together, the ribs were on for about 2.5 hours, and I let them stand, wrapped in foil, for another 30 minutes after I took them off the grill.
For the first hour and a half the ribs were smoked over hickory chips I soaked in water and added to a smoker box (you can just see an edge of it on the left side of the photo). For the lasted 30 minutes I basted the ribs with a honey beer mop. Sticky and sweet:
To cool off the spice in the ribs and beans, I made a side of coleslaw. One small green cabbage, a couple of carrots, lots of mayo, some vinegar, celery seed and a few other ingredients and you’ve got the ultimate accompaniment:
All in all this turned out pretty well. The beans were a big hit, which is cool because they were pretty easy to do. The slaw was simple, although a bit too sweet for my tastes. But the big issue is the ribs. I’ve done about 5 different variants on a theme — three times for sticky ribs, twice for dry ribs — and I still haven’t mastered them. They’ve all been good, but there’s always something stopping them short of “perfection” (see note about too much salt above).
I know it sounds like an excuse, but I think I need a new grill. The earlier versions worked out better, and that was last year. My grill is over 5 years old so I figure I’m due.
Anyway, Dex liked the meal so much, he stuck his toe in his nose:
That isn’t Photoshopped. The kid really bends like that. Ouch.