I love winter, but I miss homemade barbecued baby back ribs. Though it's possible to grill outdoors in the winter, especially during mild weather, I'd rather be inside. So to keep enjoying the ribs -- which need slow, steady heat -- I decided to braise them in the oven until tender. Dried fruit and cloves add winter flavor. Apple cider lends a touch of sweetness.
I've allowed 3 or 4 ribs per serving, which allows for 3 or 4 servings per rack. If you are feeding rib lovers, you might want to allow 5 or 6 per person. The ribs will need to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons light or dark light brown sugar
- 2 racks (40 ounces) baby back ribs, separated into individual ribs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) dried apples, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) dried cherries, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Combine the salt, cloves, cayenne pepper, cumin and brown sugar in a bowl. Rub the mixture all over the ribs and place the spice-coated ribs in a resealable plastic food storage bag. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large roasting pan (at least 11 by 16 inches).
In a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Working in batches, add enough ribs to comfortably fit in the skillet without crowding. Brown the ribs on the 3 meaty sides; this will take about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned ribs to the roasting pan in a single layer, with one of the meaty sides up. (The ribs will be a tight fit in the pan.)
With the skillet still over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until they start to soften. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the chopped dried apple and 1 tablespoon of the chopped dried cherries; add the remaining fruit to the skillet, stirring to combine. Add the apple cider and increase the heat to high. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated from the bottom of the skillet; the fruit and onions should still be moist. Reduce the heat to medium and add the crushed red pepper flakes and the chicken broth; bring the mixture to a boil, then pour the mixture over the ribs. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Cook for 45 minutes, then carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Turn the ribs over (so the side that was in the cooking liquid is now facing up), re-cover with the foil and return the pan to the oven. Cook for 45 minutes, then check the ribs. If the meat is tender enough to pull away from the bone, the ribs are done. If not, re-cover and cook for up to 30 minutes or until tender.
Transfer the ribs to a platter. You can now either place the roasting pan on the stove or transfer the cooking liquid and fruit to a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. To serve, place 3 or 4 ribs on each plate and top with some of the sauce and cooked fruit. Garnish each portion with the reserved dried fruit.
Developed by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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