Monday, June 7, 2010

Barbecue Ribs

We love barbecue in this house. All of us. Nothing beats the taste of food cooked outside. Unfortunately, we can't grill every day. Or even all that often, actually. So we make barbecue-style food inside. Which means barbecue sauce.

We usually buy bottled barbecue sauce. Recently, though, I haven't wanted to. I have been trying really hard to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from our diet, and if you look at the ingredient list of almost any commercial barbecue sauce, well, it's darn near the top of the list. Not to be deterred from our barbecue fare, we have decided to venture into the world of making our own barbecue sauce.

Today we planned on making ribs for dinner, so I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to make a first attempt at homemade barbecue sauce. Or, more accurately, Kansas City Rib Sauce.

The funny thing is that one of the first ingredients in many barbecue sauce recipes, this one included, is ketchup. And guess what? Most commercial ketchups are ALSO made with high fructose corn syrup. Was I going to be stalled out before I even started? Was I going to have to shell out three times what I usually pay for bottled ketchup? Nope! Apparently food manufacturers are beginning to catch on, because look what I found:


This recipe came together really easily. There was absolutely nothing complicated about it, other than trying not to make too big a mess while measuring, mixing, and simmering everything. Little miss helped with everything that didn't involve either a knife (mincing) or heat (stirring the sauce over the burner). I did make a couple of minor changes to the recipe as written, something I usually don't do the first time I try a recipe, but I felt that the changes I made were safe ones to attempt. First, I cut the spiciness by reducing the amount of cayenne pepper that was called for in the recipe. Secondly, I used apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, just for added flavor. Finally, I followed the advice of several of the people who had commented on the recipe by adding a few splashes of Worcester sauce for a little extra depth (so they said). The finished product had a great color and smelled so good that little miss could barely wait for it to cool enough to taste.

Sauce done, it was time to prepare the ribs. Actually, truth be told, the sauce, though it was my first priority for this endeavor, it was actually the second step - the ribs were step one. I prepare my ribs in the crock pot, so they'd been cooking since the morning. I prepare a quick and easy rub for them, primarily using brown sugar, garlic powder and paprika, then little miss drizzles honey over the whole pot. These then cook on low all day, until they are not only cooked through, but are so tender that it is difficult to remove them from the crock without them falling apart. YUM.

Once the ribs came out of the pot, it was time to put the sauce to the test. Little miss did the honors of making sure that all of the ribs were adequately sauced, then the ribs went under the broiler for a few minutes.

By the time these came out, the sauce was bubbling, and it looked and felt like it was practically infused into the meat. They looked and smelled fantastic, and were so tender that they cutting them to serve barely required a knife.

So how did they turn out? Pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. I definitely need to play with the flavor a little, as the dominant flavor, despite the spices, was still the ketchup, but considering how much better and fresher this is than the bottled stuff, we were all really happy with it. So this will now become my "base" recipe, and I will play with variations until I find the perfect flavor combination. But I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good alternative to bottled barbecue sauce.

Kansas City Rib Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne

(I adjusted the spices to cut the heat a little)

Heat oil in saucepan. Add garlic and sautee until brown. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, until thickened.

Use sauce to baste ribs, or use as BBQ sauce as desired.


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