Barbecued Pork Ribs

If there’s anything better than some lip-smacking, mouth-watering, finger-licking good barbecued ribs, you couldn’t prove it by me. And with a Dutch oven full of some country-style pork ribs awaiting me for supper, I can’t think of a better way to show my approval.

I decided to fix the ribs as a prelude to Johnny Bravoz’s Second Annual Rib Fest and Barbecue Cook-Off on Saturday in Oslo, Minn. I figured it would be a good way to get my palate tuned up, since Johnny Bravoz owner John Kirkeby once again asked for my help in judging the contest, which is offering prizes up to $500 for the best pork ribs. (For information on entering, call 218-695-5000.)

As far as I know, John is expecting up to 25 entry in the contest, which starts at 5 p.m. Some of the ribs will be grilled, while others will be prepared in smokers. The public is invited and will be allowed to sample the ribs for a nominal fee, which will help determine the People’s Choice.

I can’t give any suggestions that most experienced rib meisters don’t already know, but here’s what one of the masters, author Steven Raichlen, has to say about what makes the perfect rib:

“It should be handsome and dark, like polished mahogany, with a rough surface, like centennial tree bark.”

Here are a couple of barbecued pork rib recipes that I found while doing some research for a Herald column. Both look mighty tasty.

Spicy Baby Back Ribs with Orange Glaze
1½ cups orange or tangerine juice
½ cup Asian-style sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 slabs (2 pounds each) baby back ribs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
In a glass measure, combine all the marinade ingredients. Remove half of the marinade and set it aside in the refrigerator. Place the ribs in a sealable plastic bag. You can fold them or cut them in half to fit better. Pour the marinade over the ribs. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat or prepare the grill for indirect heat over low to low-medium heat. The heat should be at a constant 250 to 275 degrees with the heat source at one side of the grill.
Remove the ribs from the marinade (discard the marinade) and let the ribs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.
Brush the cooking grates clean and oil them. Place the ribs, meaty side up, on the grill away from the heat source. Close the lid and grill for about 2 hours (for whole racks). Check periodically that the heat is not getting too high.
Meanwhile, place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Whisk in the Dijon and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until it’s slightly reduced and has a glaze consistency.
Check the ribs for doneness. The bones should start pulling away from the meat and the meat should be tender, but still hold together.
Brush the ribs with the glaze and close the lid. Continue cooking another 10 minutes or until the glaze sets in. Glaze the ribs several times this way. Remove from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serve with additional glaze if desired.
Yield: Serves 4 (generously).
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (6.5 ounces of rib meat): 529 calories, 63 percent of calories from fat, 37 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 18 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 1,217 milligrams sodium, 132 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.

Tamarind-Glazed Country-Style Ribs
1 cup tamarind juice
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
12 country-style pork ribs with bone, about 4 pounds total
In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Set aside ½ cup of the marinade in the refrigerator for brushing on the ribs during grilling. Put the ribs in a sealable plastic bag and pour the remaining marinade over them. Marinate 4 hours and up to overnight.
Prepare the grill for indirect grilling over medium heat, about 325 degrees. (The heat will be on one side of the grill and the ribs off to another side.)
Remove the ribs from the marinade (discard the marinade) and let the ribs sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.
Brush the cooking grates clean and oil them. Place the ribs on the grill over indirect medium heat with the lid closed for 20 minutes. Turn the ribs over, brush with some of the reserved marinade and continue to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove the ribs from the grill, tightly wrap with foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Yield: Serves 6 (generously).
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 551 calories, 51 percent of calories from fat, 31 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 13 grams carbohydrates, 52 grams protein, 328 milligrams sodium, 179 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.