This recipe, which has been in the Scheib family for years, is probably Walter Scheib's favorite cookout item, and he has served it to both the Clinton and Bush families. The secrets to this recipe are to cook the ribs in simmering water until they are very tender (this can be done a day in advance) and to cover the grill to produce the smoke that gives these ribs their wonderful taste.
- For the ribs
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 to 10 black peppercorns
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 gallon water, or more as needed
- 4 pounds baby back pork ribs, cut into 8-inch-wide sections, silver skin removed
- For the sauce and glaze
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger root
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 limes (grated zest and juice)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon creamy horseradish
- 1 tablespoon light or dark light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (may substitute low-sodium soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 1/2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo, pureed
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups reduced stock from cooking the ribs
For the ribs: In a deep, lidded stockpot large enough to contain the ribs, place all of the ingredients except the ribs. Set the heat on medium-high and heat until bubbles just break the surface. Reduce the heat to medium, add the ribs , and, if necessary, add enough water to keep the ribs submerged. Cover the pot and cook gently until the ribs are tender but not falling apart, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on their size. Remove the ribs from the pot. Reserve the cooking liquid, skimming off any fat from the surface, and set aside to cool. Strain the reserved liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and place 6 cups of it in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. If not using immediately for the sauce, let the reduced stock cool, then cover and refrigerate.
For the sauce: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Except for the 3 cups of reserved stock, add all the remaining ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the 3 cups of stock and cook, with bubbles just breaking the surface, for 30 to 45 minutes. Strain into a medium bowl and let cool. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate.
When ready to cook, reserve 2 to 3 cups sauce for dipping. If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium. If using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal or wood briquettes. When the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area for direct heat (not too hot to prevent burning). Lightly oil the grate. Place the ribs on the grill and baste the top with sauce. Cover the grill to produce smoke. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the ribs over and baste the other side. Cook, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes, taking care not to burn the sauce. Meanwhile, heat the remaining sauce. To serve, pile the ribs on a platter and serve with the heated sauce on the side.
Adapted from former White House chef Walter Scheib.
Tested by Mari-Jane Williams.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.