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SMOKED BABY BACK RIBS WITH PRICKLY PEAR BBQ SAUCE
Steven Raichlen, the master of live fire cooking whose Barbecue! Bible cookbook is a "must have" (see our list here) international bestseller, debuted his most electrifying PBS live-fire cooking show during July 4th weekend: Steven Raichlen's Project Smoke.
Running weekly for 13 weeks, the series focuses on traditional and cutting-edge smoking techniques-presented with the intelligence, substance, and style that have made Raichlen's Primal Grill and Barbecue University two of the top-rated food shows on public television. Each show in the series runs 30 minutes (you can find the schedule and your local PBS channel here).
"Smoking is the new grilling," says Raichlen, a five-time James Beard Award-winner who holds a degree in French literature. "Project Smoke focuses on the iconic smoked foods, such as Texas brisket, Carolina pulled pork, and Scandinavian smoked salmon, plus dishes you would never dream you could smoke, from cocktails to dessert."
To kick off the new series, Raichlen is sharing his recipe for Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Prickly Pear Barbecue Sauce with the Grillocracy.com community.
SMOKED BABYBACK RIBS WITH PRICKLY PEAR BBQ SAUCE
4 racks of baby back ribs (8 to 10 pounds)
For the rub:
5 tablespoons smoked paprika
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 cup apple cider, placed in a mister for spraying
Prickly pear barbecue sauce (recipe follows)
Wash the ribs and blot dry. Remove the papery skin on the back of each rack of ribs. (Pull it off in a sheet with your fingers, using the corner of a dishtowel to gain a secure grip.)
Make the rub: Place the ingredients in a bowl and mix, breaking up any lumps with the sugar with your fingers. Rub the mixture into the ribs on both sides.
Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225 to 250 degrees. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.
Cook the ribs until very tender and the meat has shrunk back from the ends of the bones, 4 to 5 hours. Replenish the charcoal and wood as necessary. Starting after 1 hour and every hour thereafter, spray the ribs with apple cider.
The last 30 minutes, brush the ribs on both sides with the barbecue sauce. If you have a grill handy, direct grill the ribs to sizzle the sauce into the meat.
Serve the ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.
PRICKLY PEAR BARBECUE SAUCE
The prickly pear is the desert’s dessert—the sweet, pinkish or greenish, oval fruit of a flat paddled cactus that grows throughout the American West. To prepare whole prickly pears, cut the ends off with a paring knife, holding the pear at the end of a fork. It’s a good idea to wear gloves: the pear may still have some prickles. Cut the fruit into ½ inch dice, then puree in the food processor, running the machine in short bursts. Strain the resulting puree to remove the hard seeds. You’ll need about 1 pound of prickly pears to obtain 1 cup puree. - Steven Raichlen
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 small onion, finely chopped (2 to 3 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped prickly pear (see above)
The finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
Salt to taste
Water as needed (up to 3/4 cup) to thin the sauce to pourable consistency
Place the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, oil, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, smoked paprika, and pepper in a heavy saucepan. Gently simmer over medium heat until the celery and onion are tender and the mixture highly flavorful, 15 minutes.
Strain the mixture into another saucepan. Stir in the prickly pear, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Simmer over medium heat until thick and richly flavored, 4 to 6 minutes. If a sweeter sauce is desired, whisk in the sugar. Correct the seasoning, adding vinegar if needed or optional salt to taste.
Recipe Courtesy of Steven Raichlen