• Stir It Up: Real barbecue flavor from your oven
     | June 07,2013
    Dirk Van Susteren Photo

    You don’t need a barbecue pit to roast these chewy, meaty glazed ribs — a regular oven will do the trick.

    All the recipes for barbecue, all the TV shows featuring he-man (and she-woman) pit masters, all the debate about the virtues of apple wood versus hickory — in short, all the talk about “barbecue culture” may be leaving out one essential: you.

    If you live in an apartment or don’t have a grill (much less a pit and a smoker), you may feel left out of the ’cue scene. But take heart: Purists may protest, but it is possible to make amazing barbecue in your oven. The trick is to follow the “low and slow” tenets of the pit masters and hold your head high.

    Jennifer Perillo, a food editor and chef, does just that. In her book “Homemade With Love,” she offers a recipe for “Seriously Delicious Ribs” cooked in the oven. They live up to their name.

    Never apologize for your oven barbecue. Aside from space and open flames, you can be as “authentic” as the next guy. Here’s how:

    n Serious BBQ competitors have team names, such as “Black Hawg Down” (from Cumming, Ga.) and “Bad to the Bone Too” (North Little Rock, Ark.). Get yourself one that describes your circumstances; perhaps “Condo ’Cue Meisters” or “The Fire Escapists.”

    n Ambience is essential. At many BBQ contests, there are often R&B artists wailing in the background as pigs are roasted and kegs are tapped. Let the ambience at your place suit the setting: jazz on the sound system, a glass of chilled prosecco as you wait for the ribs to cook, the Sunday paper or a good book within reach. If you have an outdoor eating space, go for it, but don’t feel embarrassed about dining in air-conditioned, bug-free apartment splendor.

    n Those serious about ’cue compete for serious prizes, often cash awards of thousands of dollars, or trophies or ribbons. Invite your friends to an “Oven BBQ Cook-Off” and offer a prize more in keeping with the crowd: bus or subway passes, or an attractive oven mitt.

    n Think “sides.” BBQ is just as much about the slaw, the cornbread and the beans as it is about the meat. You can slave over these, or feel free to shop at your neighborhood deli.

    Seriously Delicious Ribs

    Yield: 4 to 6 servings

    2 slabs pork baby back ribs (3 to 4 pounds total)

    For the rub:

    ½ cup packed dark brown sugar

    1 tablespoon coarse salt

    2 teaspoons sweet paprika

    1 teaspoon garlic powder

    1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

    1 teaspoon chipotle powder or chili powder

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

    For the braising liquid:

    1 cup sparkling white wine, such as prosecco

    2 tablespoons cider vinegar

    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

    1 tablespoon honey

    Rinse the ribs and pat them dry. Line one large baking pan, or two smaller ones, with aluminum foil (to help with cleanup) and place the ribs on the foil.

    In a medium bowl, combine all of the rub ingredients. Rub evenly over each rack of ribs, making sure to coat both sides. Place them fatty-side up, cover the pan(s) tightly with foil, and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

    When you are ready to cook, remove the ribs from the fridge and carefully remove the foil covering. If using one pan, or two that will fit side by side, center a rack in the oven; if using two pans that won’t fit side by side, put one oven rack in the top third of the oven and one in the bottom third. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

    In a small saucepan, combine the braising liquid ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour evenly over the ribs. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 2½ hours. If the pans are on separate oven racks, rotate the pans halfway through the cooking time.

    Remove the ribs from the oven, remove the foil and pour off all liquid into a saucepan. Cover the ribs and put back in the oven (still on 250 degrees). Bring braising liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid reduces by half and becomes a thick, syrupy sauce, about 30 minutes.

    Remove the ribs from the oven and preheat the broiler.

    Remove the foil and brush the glaze on top of the ribs. Broil until the glaze begins to caramelize, 1 to 3 minutes. (Watch carefully, or they will burn.) Slice between the ribs and serve with the remaining glaze on the side.

    (Recipe from “Homemade with Love” by Jennifer Perillo; Running Press, 2013)

    Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.

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