Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Famous James' Ribs with Sawyers "Secret" Sauce

My husband's great secret is that he's actually a good cook. A great cook, in point of fact, when properly motivated.  To him, cooking is scientific procedure, and he approaches it with the same methodical consistency as he does when running labs in his classroom. He's even got cooking chops, of a sort, having taken foods (or cooking, or home ec, or whatever the PC term is these days) back in high school.

Nevertheless, it takes quite a bit to get him excited about cooking. Cooking for a crowd can do it, as can the macho male stereotype of grilling.  It is one of the only ways my Mister is stereotypical to his gender.

During one of these rare times, searching for a dish to impress, he took Alton Brown's ribs recipe, tweaked the rub, then paired it with a secret sauce recipe we got from a restaurant since closed. The Frankenstein-like recipe stitching worked, so well, in fact, that this is now his signature dish.

I felt it needed a wider audience than it currently has, especailly the sauce (until Sawyers rises again, at least): It's vingeagry, but thick, and uses coffee, raisins, and a ton of garlic. 

Alton's ribs recipe is unimpeachable: he braises in the oven, then finishes on the grill. However, it's not true barbecue. But it does make for a super tender result.

Famous James' Ribs with Sawyers "Secret" Sauce

The Sauce (adapted from Sawyers Gourmet Pancake House)
Make it at least a day in advance. This makes, literally, a vat of sauce. It's a restaurant recipe, remember? So plan to freeze at least half when you make it. I like to do this in a crock-pot on a lazy Sunday, but you can do it in a stock pot too.

2 cups brewed coffee
4 cups ketchup
3 cups yellow mustard
1 cup molasses
2 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cinammon
8 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups raisins, chopped
 A stock pot, very large (6 qt +) saucepan, or 6 quart Crock-Pot 
Crock-Pot Method. Give yourself 8 hours at home, mostly unattended.
Put all the ingredients but the raisins in a slow cooker. Turn cooker on to low, and stir well. Come back and stir every half hour or so until everything is evenly mixed and it starts to get bubbly on the edges.  Turn off, add the raisins, stir. Reserve a cup and a half of sauce for the recipe, and freeze the rest. 

Stovetop method. Give yourself 2 hours, but it won't take quite that long.

Put all the ingredients but the raisins in a stock  pot large enough to hold it all. Stir well, bring to simmer, turn heat to low. Stir until everything is  completely mixed. Turn off, add the raisins, stir. Reserve a cup and a half of sauce for the recipe, and freeze the rest. 

The rub (Adapted from Who Loves Ya? Baby Back Ribs by Alton Brown)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
11/2 teaspoons dried Italian herb mix
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

Put it all in a large container with a tight fitting lid. Break up any big chunks of brown sugar. Cap the lid and shake the ever living heck out of it until well mixed. Shake again just before using. You should have enough for this batch of ribs and  the next.

The ribs
the rub (from above)
the sauce (from above)
2 2 pound slabs of baby back ribs
a large sheet pan
1 roll of heavy duty aluminum foil
basting brush
1 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic

Step 1. The night before. Give yourself a half hour.
Combine all ingredients for the braising liquid, then rub your ribs. Move a quarter to a half cup of your rub into a small bowl. This way,  if you dip your hand in after touching the ribs, you haven't contaminated all the rub.
Lay down a sheet of aluminum foil over the sheet pan large enough to wrap the ribs. Sprinkle rub on both sides of ribs, then rub it in, focusing on the meatiest side. Put the ribs down so that they look like a smiley face or U when you look at them, then wrap with foil, but leave one end open. Put the liquid in, then seal them up. Do the second set of ribs. Let them  sit on the sheet pan overnight.

Step 2. When you are ready to cook. Give yourself 4 hours between the time you start and the time you eat, mostly unattended.
Preheat the oven to 250.
Check to make sure the foil packets aren't leaking. If they are, wrap in another layer of foil. Carefully
Put ribs in and cook for  3 hours.
Remove ribs from the oven. You can hold them  here for a day in the fridge if you want to do work in advance, but make sure the ribs  come to room temperature before you do the next steps.
Open up the foil. Cut them into 2-3 rib pieces.
Turn on your broiler or grill.
Use the basting brush to coat the ribs with sauce.
Broil or grill just until the sauce sticks to the ribs and just barely starts to caramelize.
Enjoy with more sauce as you like.