Pork Ribs with Merlot BBQ Sauce

by our in-house chef Jeff Mosher


2 racks pork ribs, St Louis cut if available or spareribs, not baby back

Spice Rub
¼ C kosher salt
1 t brown sugar
½ t paprika
½ t cumin
½ t chipotle powder
¼ t black pepper

Merlot BBQ Sauce
½ C ketchup
1 T minced garlic
2 t olive oil
½ C merlot
2 T + 1t soy sauce
½ C + 1T apple cider vinegar
1 T honey
1 t Worcestershire sauce
½ t paprika
¼ t ground cumin
¼ t chipotle powder


Spice Rub
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until evenly distributed. Store in a sealed container until ready to use. 

BBQ sauce 
Heat a small sauce pot, when hot but not smoking add the olive oil and turn down the heat to low. After 30 seconds add the minced garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the Merlot, bring to a simmer, and cook for 4 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Next add the rest of the ingredients. Bring slowly to a simmer. Then turn off and let cool. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Ideally make the sauce at least a day ahead to let flavor meld together.

Cooking the Ribs
Since I don't have a smoker, like lots of people, but love BBQ, like lots of people, I decided to write a recipe for cooking ribs in the oven and finishing on the grill.

Season the ribs liberally with the spice rub the day before you want to cook them. Wrap them well and refrigerate. On the day you want to cook pull the ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to put them in the oven. Heat your oven to 275 degrees F. Place the ribs into a pan with a rack, add water to cover the bottom of the pan and cover the pan with foil. In a commercial setting use 4" hotel pans. If you don't have the appropriately sized pan you can wrap the pork racks in foil. Wrap them loosely, i.e. not touching the top of the ribs, but make sure the seal is tight when you crimp the foil closed. Cook for approx. 3 hours.

It is tough to gauge the doneness of ribs with a thermometer because the meat is of varying thickness, but you want the thickest parts to be reading around 190 F, that is when the fat and cartilage break down and you get the most succulent ribs. You don't want them completely falling off the bone, but you want the meat to pull easily away from the bone. One good trick to check for doneness is to twist the rib bone. If it easily twists and the meat separates from the bones, then the ribs are done.

At this point if dinner is still an hour or more away, I brush them with the Merlot BBQ sauce and rewrap them. If we are eating soon, I heat my grill. Once hot I place the ribs meat side down on the grill, turning them after 4 minutes. After an additional 4 minutes I flip them over and brush them with the sauce. I cook them on the grill for 10-20 minutes brushing them with sauce every 5 minutes. It's a matter of preference how much char one wants on their ribs. When done pull the ribs off the grill and let cool for at least 10 minutes then slice and serve with additional sauce and whatever sides you prefer. For the demo we made a German style potato salad and corn bread. Bon appetite!

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