Mon Oct 8, 2007
Now this story I'm about to unfold took place back in September, just about the time when I was finishing up my travels and settling back into my regular meat eating activities. I only mention it because sometimes there's some ribs - I wouldn't say the greatest ribs - but sometimes there's some ribs that are just the right ribs for that time and place, fits right in, and those are these jerk ribs, in New Pork City.
Yes, the city that pork built has a new resident, the Jerk Ribs. I felt my barbecue ribs were getting a little lonely being the only ones showing up at The Meatwave time after time, so I decided it was time to expand my rib-iverse by trying something new. I first saw these jerk ribs on BBQ U and have always had them in the back of my mind as something I should attempt making, and that time had finally come. I started these ribs with an overnight swim in a marinade of pineapple juice, jalape˝os, and cilantro.
Out of the marinade the next morning, I rubbed them liberally with my jerk seasoning. At this point in rib making, I usually get really excited because whatever hunk of meat I'm rubbing down that day starts to smell and look like bbq, but at this point with the jerk ribs, my enthusiasm was stifled. Although these ribs looked like bbq, the smell was not one that I was familiar with or associate with good bbq, so I felt only cautious optimism that I was on the road to creating something delicious.
After about 24 hours in the fridge, I fired up the smoker and got these babies going. I used a mixture of apple wood and oak to smoke these racks of spare ribs for 6 1/2 hours. I kept them moist while cooking by spraying them with more pineapple juice about every hour. Although the smell of smoke started to put my mind at ease that I was creating mouthwatering bbq, there was still something off from what I'm used to, and I continued to proceed with some lingering doubt.
During the last half hour of smoking, I glazed these ribs twice. The glaze consisted of mostly pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar boiled until thick. After glazing the ribs, they came out of the smoker shiny and beautiful, almost ready to eat. I just had to top them with some spicy pineapple bbq sauce before tearing in.
Final verdict = awesomeness! A definite departure from regular ribs, but not so crazy that they felt wrong at all. The rub, glaze, and sauce all go great together, and although so much seasoning and sauce may seem excessive, it still didn't overpower the flavor of the meat or smoke. I served these alongside the regular bbq ribs, and that created a Meatwave rift between those who liked these better and those who preferred the usual. All I can say is that there's room in my heart, and stomach, for both, and both I plan on having many, many times in the future.
Jalapeno Jerk Baby Back Ribs with Pineapple Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from BBQ U, Steven Raichlen
For the marinade
1 quart pineapple juice
1 bunch cilantro, washed and rough chopped
4 to 8 jalapeno chilies, thinly sliced
Place the ribs in a large roasting pan. Pour 4 cups pineapple juice over them and add the cilantro and jalapenos. Marinate the ribs for 2 hours to overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove the ribs from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Liberally rub the racks all over with the Jerk Seasoning. Wrap the racks in foil an place back in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature while you prepare your smoker. For smoking, use 3 large chunks of apple wood and 2 chunks of oak. When the smoker is lit and at 225 degrees, place racks of ribs in and allow to smoke for 2 hours untouched. After 2 hours, check on the ribs every hour, spraying them each time with the extra pineapple juice.
During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, baste the ribs with the glaze. Repeat this one or two more times before the ribs are done.
When the ribs are finished, remove from the smoker, cut up the racks, and serve with the pineapple bbq sauce.
Jerk Seasoning Rub
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1-1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon scotch bonnet chili powder or cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and boil until mixture is thick and syrupy, stirring occasionally. The mixture should reduce to 1 cup.
For the Pineapple BBQ Sauce
2 cups pineapple juice
1 to 2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt (just a little) and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the pineapple juice, chili, ginger, and cilantro in a heavy saucepan and boil until reduced by half.
Stir the ketchup, vinegar, worchestershire sauce, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Simmer the sauce until richly flavored and slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.