Monday, May 30, 2011

Grill of my dreams


One of the frustrating things about summer in the city for me is my inability, as an apartment dweller, to get my grill on. Without a balcony or a yard, I’m missing out on one of the best things about summer: cooking with fire.

Face it: things just taste better grilled (I recently had a taste of grilled radicchio that proved this maxim is as true for vegetables as meats). It doesn’t help that this is the time of year when every food magazine is doing its summer grilling issue. Even worse is biking around and catching the telltale scent of burgers on the grill wafting in the breeze. We do have a small, cheap, portable charcoal grill that we break out from time to time for hot dogs or burgers in the park, but it has its limits: good luck doing a brisket or ribs on that thing.

So, if you want the taste of barbeque without a barbeque, you have to get a little creative and make some sacrifices. These oven-baked ribs in a tangy-sweet sauce won’t have the distinctive charred crunch of the grill, but they stand up very well on their own.

Oven “barbeque” pork ribs (adapted from Everyday Food)
Serves 4

2 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
Coarse salt
2 pounds baby back ribs
Rib Sauce (see below)

In a small bowl, combine mustard powder, paprika, celery salt, onion powder, red-pepper flakes, garlic powder, celery seed, and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub slabs on both sides with the spice mixture, and refrigerate, loosely covered, for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stack slabs on a double layer of aluminum foil; tightly wrap. Place on a rack on a baking sheet. Cook until meat pulls away from the bone and is easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove ribs from oven, move oven rack to the highest position and crank up the broiler. Carefully remove ribs from foil, pouring off any liquid. Brush generously on both sides with rib sauce and return to rack. Broil until sauce starts to bubble and brown around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve ribs with any leftover sauce, if desired.

Rib Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup ketchup
1 cup canned beef broth
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Strain sauce into a bowl, discarding solids. Makes about 2 cups.

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