Bayless’s recipe this week.

Cover of Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless

“Proc 4 grlc,6T ancho,4t sugr&peppr,5t salt,1t oreg,½t cumin.Rub 4 slb ribs;ovrnite.Bake 300 75 min.Blend:7oz chiptles&3/4c honey.Grill;glaze”

Okay, if you count what’s between the quotation marks, you’ll find that it’s 140 characters long. Obviously, there’s enough there to get a sense of what is supposed to be going on, but is there actually enough there for a total beginner at grilling and ribs to make dinner? And, given the quantity of baby back ribs there, is there enough going on that a total beginner can make it for dinner WITH COMPANY?

Somehow, I suspect that wasn’t entirely Rick Bayless’s intent, but I do hope he gives some points for optimism. However, given the cookbook giveaway is for “Fiesta at Rick’s”, maybe it was his intent, and I played right into his sneaky hands! Well played, Mr. Bayless. Well played.So, let’s start from the beginning, shall we? First, we1 should note that this is the first of the four recipes where Mr. Bayless gave quite a few hints before the actual recipe was posted. Normally there’s a hint in the title (as there was this time), but this time the preceeding tweet told us that the recipe title was “Chipotle Glazed Baby Back Ribs”, and that “ancho” meant a powder and the chipotle was canned.

So, we read the recipe as follows:

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves (Minced in the squeezer thing that Bill hates)
6 tbsp ancho chile powder (I was sneaky; used the powdered chile from “home” (NM) we already owned; it was delicious & I do not regret it.)
4 tsp sugar (We used granulated white sugar.)
4 tsp ground pepper (It is crazy difficult to grind this amount of pepper in Bill’s grinder. Also, it was 5 pepper blend.)
5 tsp salt (We used kosher salt, because we still only have that.)
1 tsp oregano
0.5 tsp cumin
4 “slabs” baby back ribs (Just ask for slabs. This turned out to be about 6.5 lbs of ribs!)
7 oz canned chipotle (In our case, a can of chipotle in adobo sauce. I think that’s the only kind readily available, maybe?)
0.75 c honey

Instructions

Mix the first 7 ingredients together (from garlic to cumin), then rub it on the ribs. Throw them in a baking dish or something (we used two 13×9 pans) and refrigerate overnight. Maybe you should cover the pans with something; we certainly did. The next day, preheat the oven to 300°F. Move the ribs to different baking dishes (because, if you are like us, all of your pans that fit ribs are pyrex, and you do not want to pop cold glass into a hot oven), cover in foil, and bake for 75 minutes. In the last 15 minutes of that get your grill nice and hot. Use an immersion blender (which will make unhappy noises) to blend the honey and chipotle together. (Actually, you could probably use a normal blender & get fewer unhappy noises, but we own an immersion blender.)

Now then, the hard part: grilling them enough that they’re good without being burned. We really messed this one up the first time (the first two slabs/first four half-slabs), so learn from our mistakes. For the good batch, we ended up using a low heat and putting the ribs on the higher shelf of the grill. Baste a side, then put that side face down for a few minutes. You’re looking for “cooked”, not “burnt” here, so use your judgment. Baste the other side when it’s ready to flip and do so. Do a few rounds of that. You want to get a nice layer of glaze on there without burning it.

Once that’s done, pull it off of the grill and eat!

Cooking and Consumption Notes

Cooking

Natasha: This recipe was kind of tough. I suggest that the rub would have been a great deal better with plain ol’ iodized salt and a food processor to bring everything together neatly (the garlic was really wet & clumpy, and really the main problem).

I refrigerated the ribs as half-slabs because that’s what would fit in my pans in my fridge. I suspect a full slab is more aesthetically pleasing, but you do what you can. I kept them covered, so as to not dry out. One in a pan with a cover my mother gave me years ago2 and one covered with plastic wrap.

Of course, as I mentioned, all of our baking gear is pyrex, so we ended up cooking this in batches just to avoid explosions of glass in the oven. It turned out to be a good thing because I overcooked (in the oven) the first two slabs and the second slabs were much better. It isn’t, so far as I can tell, so much that he really means that 75 minutes is a hard and fast rule, but that the ribs really need to braise, rather than bake. Since this is Bill & my first time making ribs, we didn’t really realize that for the first part. So, we started by cooking in pyrex and googling the heck out of, “How to make baby back ribs”, which suggested braising. The first batch was covered with my cookie sheets, as we did not have aluminum foil on hand while they were baking. (Bill, being a totally wonderful man, ran out and grabbed some while Rob, also being a totally wonderful man, prepared the non-corn side-dish.)

For the record, covering with cookie sheets helped, but wasn’t adequate for a good braise. Making an aluminum foil cover really was. Please do that for tasty ribs. I’m sure that 75 minutes wasn’t a hard & fast rule, because both sets of ribs stayed in the oven for much longer than that (the first batch because they just didn’t look done enough, and the second batch because Bill & Rob were telling HILARIOUS stories of their more youthful days). Just make sure to properly braise.

Bill: I maintain that Natasha did the hard part. I just grilled. However, note that there’s a lot of fuzzy time on the grill there. This is because we weren’t keeping a timer or anything. The first batch got burned pretty badly; they were still tasty enough, but the second batch was much better. I’m pretty sure that they’re cooked completely once they’re out of the oven, so you just need to char some glaze on. Do that.

Consumption

Natasha: Holy cow! Tasty, but quite spicy. Especially the second, less-charred batch. Have on hand your favorite complimentary booze or milk to help quench the flames in the back of your throat. Still, this is totally worth it and you should eat a lot of it. I’m tiny and “hot-spicy” adverse, and I still ate 3/4 of a slab of ribs. NOMS!

Bill: This wasn’t a great recipe for company. Our company was pretty easy going about the whole “we don’t know when dinner is” thing, but yours may not be. However, once the second batch came off the grill, they were fantastic. We grilled some corn (shuck, wrap in foil with a little butter, grill for ~5 minutes) and some potato/onion/pepper stuff (red onion quartered and broken apart, potatoes sliced thin, and peppers cut into strips, along with a pat of butter, ~1T sugar and some pepper, in a packet of foil on the grill for 15-20 minutes) to go along with it. Here’s what it looked like in the end.

As always, we’ve got more pictures available (and larger ones of what’s above) in our Flickr account. Here’s the set for this recipe

1 Bill and Natasha actually wrote this one together, since we totally cooked this one together. Also, we hijacked our company into helping too, so the nice forearm with the attractive chain-link cuff is Rob, Bill’s co-worker and our workout buddy/tormentor and friend. You should all say hello to him, as he’s a fun guy.