Endless summer, yep – that’s what it’s been like here at the beach. Exuberant Independence Day celebrations continued through the week, even last night, sparkling fireworks lit up the sky setting our Corgi Tank into a frenzy as their booming echo shattered the night. One celebration barely ends while chain-link fences guard the staggering piles of wood and metal and trucks of many trades line the beach signaling the arrival of the next blockbuster event: the Van’s US Open of Surfing 2013 this Friday, July 20th. Anticipation and excitement builds as locals eye the evolution of the tents, bleachers and cement bowl being erected for the city of thousands of rabid fans that will swarm the beach for 9 days of sun, sand, surf, and skate insanity.
Not quite ready for that – in fact, I’m a little relieved to know that we’ll be here only for the last two days of the event and won’t be around to experience the mobs of boisterous crowds for the first week because we’ll be traveling (to Shanghai for the opening of the third international office, very exciting!).
Celebration or not, summer is all about grilling and over the holiday weekend we grilled every day. It’s my favorite time of year – we cook nearly everything on the grill and, with hubs acting as grill master and me as sous chef, expediter, and clean-up – my kitchen tasks are diminished by one. With household occupancy varying between four and an additional four to six young, ravenous adults – we grilled a whole lotta proteins. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, turkey burgers, grilled chicken, and meatball skewers which fit the bill for traditional 4th of July fare, but the real crowd pleaser was the mound of baby backed ribs with homemade bourbon barbecue sauce that proved to be unforgettably finger-lickin’ GREAT!
The bevy of specialty ingredients that I used in the sauce melded together in a symphony of flavors that is memorable as well as being low in sodium for the hubs. We have purchased barbecue sauces with zero or low sodium online, but after reading tons of brand labels in stores, I can tell you that there are no widely distributed low-sodium barbecue sauces and, no bourbon barbecue sauces, other than Jack Daniels, at all. This is not acceptable and I’m working on rectifying that situation – stay tuned 🙂
- 3 racks of Pork Baby Back ribs (about 6 pounds)
- 1 cup Dole pineapple juice
- 1-1/2 cups Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
- Bourbon Barbecue Sauce:
- ¼ cup Heinz No-Salt ketchup
- ¼ cup Kickin' Ketchup*
- ½ cup good quality bourbon - I used Buffalo Trace*
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chaparral Gardens Head Ancho vinegar*
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Colman's mustard*
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 pinches red pepper flakes
- Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Makes approx. 1-1/2 cups of sauce. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Cut the racks of ribs in half crosswise. Early in the day, rub the meaty side of the ribs with a spice mixture such as Savory Spice Shop's Pearl Street Plank Rub. Place in a large lasagna or baking pan and cover with tin foil. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove the ribs from the refrigerator. Lay them meat side down and pour 1 cup of pineapple juice over the ribs - the pieces will overlap slightly. Cover the baking pan tightly with the tin foil and bake until just tender and the meat begins to pull away from the ends of the bones - about 1 and ½ hours.
- To grill: Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Grill the ribs, brushing them with about half of the Bourbon Barbecue sauce (recipe below), until they're crispy and heated through, about 10-15 minutes. The sugar in the sauce can cause the ribs to burn, so move the ribs around as they grill to prevent burning. Remove the ribs and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting them into 1 or 2-bone pieces.
- Serve the remainder of the sauce for dipping or brush it over the ribs before serving. Enjoy :)
* A note about the specialty ingredients that went into my Bourbon Barbecue Sauce:
Kickin’ Ketchup’s tagline is “first the sweet, then the heat” – if ordinary ketchup is too bland for your taste buds – this one’s for you. Kickin’ Ketchup is made locally by Beach Cities Ketchup Co. and is available at Whole Foods in California, Arizona and Nevada or can be purchased online.
Since last year’s culinary adventure in Louisville, KY that included a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon dinner prepared by Chef Anthony Lamas with guest of honor Julian Van Winkle and a Buffalo Trace distillery tour, Buffalo Trace has been my favorite bourbon – a consistent winner at wine and spirits competitions, Buffalo Trace has a long and lush finish that is highly rated by industry experts as a bourbon that delivers taste well beyond it’s affordable price point ($20.99 where I buy it). Although, I highly suggest you try it, you don’t have to use Buffalo Trace in this recipe, any good quality bourbon may be substituted.
Chaparral Gardens Artisan vinegars start with hand-selected, hand-picked fruits, herbs, and vegetables grown on their 2-acre organic farm in California’s Central Coast. The fruits and herbs are placed in small vats with an organic based kosher vinegar. All of their infusions are taken through a mild infusion process that takes several months to complete – time and patience are the key to their flavors. Their Head Ancho vinegar is just one of the amazing artisan vinegars – it has a smoky essence and heat derived from a unique combination of anchos, habaneros and bell peppers – think chili, salsa, and sauces. This is my new secret ingredient – and it could be yours, too!
Colman’s Mustard is known internationally as the English mustard because for nearly 200 years the Brits have been spicing things up with Colman’s Original fiery-hot go-to pantry essential. Colman’s secret is in blending high quality brown mustard seeds and white mustard seeds to achieve the unique smoldering flavor kick that makes their mustard so versatile.