By Blair Anthony Robertson, Bee Restaurant Critic
Speaking of the Super Bowl, I had a little Super Bowl déjà vu Sunday when, on a whim, I decided to make ribs. Specifically, I made the ribs from the can't-fail recipe in the timeless cookbook "Joy of Cooking," And no, I wasn't hosting a Pro Bowl party.
This delicious meal actually comes together with two recipes - one for the barbecue sauce and one for "country-style ribs baked in barbecue sauce." I had been thinking about the Super Bowl and recalling that these were the same two recipes I used for the first Super Bowl party I attended in Sacramento (January 2000) after arriving from the East Coast the previous June.
The party was at the apartment of Matthew Barrows, who started at The Bee two weeks after I did and sat across from me in the newsroom. We were both general assignment reporters. Matt went on to become the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers, and now he pretends he doesn't know who I am. But back in 2000, all I knew about his interest in football was that he was a fanatical Redskins fan (he grew up in the D.C. area) and that he couldn't throw a tight spiral if his life depended on it.
Anyway, the ribs were a big hit at the party - incredibly tender, full of flavor from the meat and the sauce cooked into it, and most importantly, they weren't greasy. There are lots of fancy cookbooks these days, but this is a recipe that would be hard to improve. Best of all, you don't need a big outdoor smoker and thus, you don't have to wake at 3 a.m. to light your big smoker. The ribs are actually baked in your oven - very slowly over four hours.
Here's what you do:
First the sauce. If you have the "all new" edition, the recipe is on Page 90. There are plenty of ingredients required, but no technique. Dump everything into the pot and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes over low heat.
1 ½ cups of ketchup
1 cup cider vinegar or red wine vinegar (I used the latter)
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar (scoop sugar into a measuring cup and gently push down until it is level)
2 tablespoons dry mustard
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 slices of lemon
Now you've got an excellent all-purpose sauce. Next, you need some ribs. Pretty much any kind of ribs will work. The way you choose will depend on personal preference and, to some extent, the nature of the occasion. I went with country-style pork ribs because they are very meaty. I bought them at the excellent meat counter at Taylor's Market, where they cut them to order. These are actually boneless, which is even better. But if you're looking for traditional rib eating, where you gnaw on the bones to your heart's content, go for spareribs or baby back ribs.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the ribs in a large baking pan. Mix 1 ½ cups of the BBQ sauce you just made with 1 cup of orange juice. Place the ribs in the pan, then pour in the sauce mixture, turning the ribs to coat. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in the oven.
Bake for three hours. Remove the pan from the oven, take off the foil and spoon sauce onto the exposed ribs so they don't dry out. Return to the oven uncovered for 1 hour, for a total of four hours. Check on them a few times in that final hour and spoon more sauce onto the ribs or turn them over. The sauce will cook down and thicken.
By the time you're finished, you will have ribs so good and tender they will be a big hit at whatever Super Bowl party you attend.
A couple of tips:
Plan ahead. This takes four hours of baking, plus more time to make the sauce. So you will want to start at least six hours before the party.
The baking pan will be tough to clean, so it might be best to line the bottom and sides with aluminum foil.
Finally, if you're going to eat these ribs, don't wear a white shirt.