Years ago, an elderly gentleman asked to speak with me in private. Grant had in his hands a folder containing 100 or so recipes, handwritten by his recently deceased wife. He spoke with tears in his eyes of her great love of cooking and the awesome dishes she prepared for them and others through the years.
Knowing of my love for cooking, he asked if I would accept her recipes and steward them in the years ahead, to which I said “Yes.” Shortly thereafter, Grant passed away. I deemed it an honor to accept them and have utilized many of them in the years since, including the barbecue sauce recipe that follows.
More recently, my wife and I were dinner guests at the home of our neighbors and good friends, George and Mary Westin. George slow-cooked some awesome ribs for our dinner, so I picked his brain as to how he achieved the falling apart, full of flavor deliciousness. He shared his cooking method and not so “secret” spice rub recipe that I’ve utilized ever since.
These incidents go to show that there is hardly anything truly original in cooking. Most everything we know comes from somebody else. I’ve combined George’s rub and Grant’s sauce to make these truly awesome baby back ribs.
Awesome baby back ribs
2 Racks Baby Back Ribs — serves six normal appetites or four humongous ones.
Sprinkle spice rub liberally on both sides of rib rack. (Ironically, you need not “rub” the spice into the ribs — it is meant to simply be sprinkled on, not rubbed in.) Let sit out on the counter for one to three hours, or wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees or light your barbecue grill for indirect cooking. This recipe is equally good both ways. Place the ribs on a large cooking sheet. Cover semi-loosely with tin foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the tin foil. Coat the ribs liberally with the barbecue sauce. Return to oven or grill* for another 15 minutes, then re-sauce and cook another 15 minutes. Let the ribs rest 10 minutes before cutting.
*If you place the sauced ribs directly on the heat of the grill, they will cook quicker and char a bit, which some folks prefer. Be careful since the sauce contains sugar and can easily burn. Continuing to use the indirect method with the sauce is safer.
George’s spice rub
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
This quantity is enough for six to eight racks of ribs, so store any extra in a ziplock bag or sealed jar for future use.
Grant’s barbecue sauce
2 2/3 cup catsup
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
8 tablespoons minced yellow onion
4 tablespoons red current jelly
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons Wrights’ Liquid Smoke
Mix all the ingredients except the Liquid Smoke in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let cool for one hour. Then stir in the Wrights’ Liquid Smoke.
Unused sauce stores well in a sealed jar in the pantry for up to a month, or in the refrigerator for up to four months.
Doug Seed was raised in Bloomfield, Mich. and has lived in Morada since 1984. He is a non-denominational clergyman, specializing in research and teaching of the Bible and is also co-owner of A Moveable Feast, a Lodi-based food truck. He is married to Carole and they have four sons. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing bridge and golfing.