Growing up, dinner at Tony Roma’s was reserved for only very special occasions. Nothing says “Happy Birthday” quite like saddling up to a sticky vinyl booth for a rack of baby backs drenched in tangy bbq sauce. Toss in a loaded baked potato, bib, and wet nap, and you’ve got a 5-star dining experience.
As a San Franciscan foodie, I would be scorned for my love of Tony Roma’s non-organic, ketchup-bottle sauced ribs. They will forever remain my dirty little bbq secret.
Hit with a baby back rib craving, I turned to Food Network genius Alton Brown for a suitable stand-in for my prized Tony Roma’s racks. Instead of a wet rub, Alton recommends a brown sugar, salt and chili dry rub, followed by a white wine and vinegar braise.
I opted to infuse my ribs with the dry rub overnight for extra flavor. The 2.5-hour braise in foil resulted in a falling-off-the-bone tender rack — exactly the texture one dreams of. Finally, a reduction of the braising liquid yielded a lovely deep brown bbq sauce, perfect for a finishing glaze.
These ribs have a sweet and tangy flavor, surprisingly reminiscent of Chinese spareribs. As expected, Alton has perfected a flawless technique for succulent baby back ribs… damn good eats!
* 2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs
* This recipe makes several batches of dry rub. If more rub is needed, it can be extended by any amount, as long as the ratio of 8:3:1:1 remains the same.
* 8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
* 3 tablespoons kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno seasoning (I omitted)
* 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (I omitted)
* 1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme (I substituted dried thyme)
* 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
* 1 cup white wine
* 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour. In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency. Brush the glaze onto the ribs. Place under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly. Slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions. Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze.