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In the Kitchen: Ribs and all the sides for Father’s Day

This Sunday is Father’s Day. 

Why not cook dad’s favorite food — baby back ribs?

While purists would say you must have a smoker of some sort to make authentic, smoky baby back ribs, you can cheat on a gas or charcoal grill by using a disposable aluminum pan or a smoker box. 

Rubbing the ribs and wrapping them in plastic for an overnight marinade is essential, as is a simple mop. You can certainly use store-bought barbecue sauce, but check the ingredients. Most are loaded with things you cannot pronounce and thus should not eat. 

Here is a simple recipe you can make to send your ribs over the top. Ribs would not be ribs unless accompanied by baked beans and cole slaw. I like to gild the lily and make deviled eggs as well. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Baby back ribs

2 racks baby back ribs (3 pounds)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon mustard powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 lemon juiced

1 1/2 cups apple cider

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

8 cups hickory or mesquite wood chips

Combine brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, mustard powder, salt and pepper. There is often a membrane on the back side of the ribs and you want to remove it. Just insert a sharp knife under the membrane and pull it off with your hands. 

Next, rub both sides of the ribs thoroughly with the rub mixture and then wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight. 

Soak the wood chips in water for at least an hour before cooking. 

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator for an hour before cooking. 

For the mop, whisk together lemon juice, apple cider, Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.

Clean the grill grates well and spray or brush with vegetable oil. Heat the grill to medium-low heat, about 250 degrees if you have a thermometer. 

Add ribs to the cooler side of the grill and set the soaked wood chips on the grill in a smoker box or in a disposable aluminum box where the heat will hit them. 

Mop the ribs with the apple cider mixture. Close the lid and smoke the ribs for an hour. 

Turn the ribs over and replenish the smoker box with more soaked wood chips. 

Mop the ribs, close the lid and smoke another hour. Repeat the process, turning ribs, replenishing wood chips and brushing with the mop, two more hours, until ribs are almost falling apart. Serve with barbecue sauce and all of the fixings.

•    •    •

Doctored baked beans

2 cans of your favorite baked beans

1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon mustard

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced into thick rings

Spray a baking dish with non-stick oil. Mix together baked beans, barbecue sauce, mustard, liquid smoke and brown sugar. Arrange the onion rings on top of the beans and cover with aluminum foil. 

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. 

•    •    •

Barbecue sauce

1 cup ketchup

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup beer

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/3 cup maple syrup or molasses

6 ounces tomato paste

3 tablespoons mustard

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dry mustard

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

In a medium pot, whisk together all ingredients. Heat over medium heat until sauce begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add more beer if it’s too thick. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate until cold. 

•    •    •

Cole slaw

6 cups finely shredded cabbage

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons honey or sugar (more to taste)

2 teaspoons celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, toss together shredded cabbage and carrots. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, honey or sugar, celery seeds, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cabbage and carrots and toss well. Cover and chill for at least an hour.