Monday, June 11, 2007

Baby Backs in Peanut Butter Slather

It seems that I'm on a Hugh Carpenter roll. Maybe I'd better buy his cookbook, Hot Barbecue, since I've prepared several recipes from that cookbook and like them all. Yesterday was a beautiful Southern California day, perfect for a backyard grilled dinner. Since Dave is a diabetic, I tend to not prepare sweet barbecue sauces except on rare occasions. And that's probably why I was attracted to this recipe because it has a limited amount of sugar in it. (And, in fact, I forgot to add the honey to the recipe at all, but next time I will.) I remember when I attended the grill class and these ribs were prepared for everyone - I enjoyed them then, and we enjoyed them yesterday. The ribs came from Niman Ranch, and they've been in my freezer for several months from an order I placed with them back then. If you've never had any Niman Ranch meats, you're in for a treat. Only available by mail order or phone, they raise very healthy animals, no antibiotics, no hormones. Although, their bacon (which is excellent and contains no nitrates or nitrites) is available at some Trader Joe's, and occasionally you can find their pork chops there also. If you get on the Niman Ranch email list, they'll tell you when meats are on special. Find a friend who will order as well and the shipping will be less that way. These ribs were exceedingly lean. Maybe not healthy-lean, but certainly better than any ribs I buy locally.

First you make a sauce/marinade: peanut butter, soy sauce, Hoisin, ginger, garlic, sherry and some Vietnamese chili sauce, among other things. You marinate the ribs in the sauce for an hour or two. Or three, or up to 8 hours. The sauce isn't hard to make - whizzed up in the blender - then you pile the ribs into plastic bags with the sauce and just let them stew in the refrigerator. Really very easy.

Carpenter has developed his own method for using the grill. He likes high heat at first, then you lower the temperature to let meat settle in for some long, slow cooking. This method is very similar to the Ribeye Steaks with Amazing Glaze that we made several weeks ago. Click HERE to refer to that recipe.
We sat outside overlooking our beautiful view of the California coast, under our new pergola, in the shade, sipping on a magnificent bottle of 2002 Iron Horse Alexander Valley T Bar Vineyard Merlot. We watched blue jays swoop down to our small table and grab little pieces of corn chips, while the ribs were slowly baking. The birds seem almost tame, as they would come within about 6 inches of my hand to pick up crispy pieces I'd toss their way. We've seen these birds before. They may even have a nest somewhere on our slope as they'd dive just over and down behind the foreground palm tree in the photo. Very entertaining. And very peaceful and relaxing. Off in the distance in the photo is the Pacific Ocean, looking toward Long Beach and Palos Verdes. It's about 10 miles to the ocean, although it's kind of hazy out in the distance. What a lovely end to a nice weekend.

Baby Back Ribs with Spicy Peanut Butter Slather

Recipe By:Hugh Carpenter, "Hot Barbecue"
Servings: 4
1 pound pork backribs
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons chili sauce -- hot, Vietnamese
6 whole garlic clove -- minced
1/4 cup fresh ginger -- finely minced
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
1/4 cup green onion -- minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro -- minced

1. Prepare the marinade by combining all ingredients in a blender and whiz until smooth. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
2. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Ideally, ask your butcher to do it for you. Alternately, use a small paring knife and gently nick the membrane, then grab it quickly with your fingers and gently pull it off completely. This allows the marinade to penetrate the meat. If you don't remove the membrane, absolutely none of the marinade with reach the back side of the ribs. Sometimes a paper towel will help you to grab the membrane.
3. Place the ribs in the sauce. You may use a large plastic bag or shallow metal tray. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes, but no more than 8 hours.
4. Preheat the grill to medium - 400-425°. Place ribs on the grill, away from direct heat source (charcoal or gas), then reduce heat to about 300° and allow to cook slowly for about an hour, maybe longer. Ribs are done when you look at the end of the bones and the meat has begun to shrink away from the bone. Remove from grill, turn up on edge and slice off one rib to check for doneness. Cut each rib the same way and serve immediately.
Serving Ideas : Serve with cold salads or a cold vegetable.
NOTES : You can make these in the oven also - if so, bake at 250° or 275° (low and slow) for about 90 minutes. It's very difficult to remove the membrane. Sometimes I've just not been able to accomplish the tedious task, so I usually poke some holes in the membrane but not enough that the rib section might fall apart.
Per Serving: 643 Calories; 41g Fat (58.2% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 58mg Cholesterol; 1764mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 7 Fat; 2 Other Carbohydrates. To view a printable recipe click on the title at the top.

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