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Ribs with Chipotle Rub and Apricot-Pineapple BBQ sauce recipe

RibschipotrleapricotpineappSummer has always meant sloppy, gooey finger-food to me. Whether it's licking an arm to catch a dribble of fresh peach juice or licking the last bit of whipped cream from the strawberry shortcake off a finger, summer gives a pass to table behavior that may be considered a bit gauche in other, more serious, seasons. Heck, in summer you can lick peach juice off someone else's arm and get away with it!

This time of year also inspires a very non-RR sort of "thirty minute meal" around my place. Take thirty minutes, divide into two parts, and insert a long time in the middle while some meat cooks ever so slowly and I give it nary a passing thought. (Hey, hey, now all you RR purists! It's still thirty minutes and nobody said it had to be thirty contiguous minutes. If there's one thing I've learned as a writer, it's that if you don't pick your words carefully, others will pick them apart...)

Driving home from picking up the CSA vegetables yesterday, I stopped at the local store for milk and noticed a single cryopacked slab of ribs hiding amongst the meat. My hand reached for it before my brain thought it through and I found myself headed home with ribs and no direction for how to prepare them.

What I ended up making was darned tasty, even if it, as many of my favorite dishes, was a total improvisation. I'm working on my discipline in writing such concotions down and posting them, hoping that even with approximations and lack of repeated testing, others will enjoy them. (I know there are other improv cooks out there, somewhere...) I also apologize for not having a picture of a juicy rib, I realized I wanted a picture of the fresh-from-the-oven slab after we'd eaten half of it. chuckles

Chipotle Rub:

chipotle chiles, 6 (all I had)
ground cumin, 1 tsp
ground cayenne, 1 tsp
some random medium chili powder, 1 tsp
dried garlic flakes, 2 tsp
kosher salt, 1 1/2 tsp
fresh ground pepper, 1 tsp

Toast the first four ingredients in a dry skillet (cast iron is great) over medium heat until you can smell them (~5 min). Watch and shake them around so they don't burn.

Put the toasted spices in a mini-chopper (or use your cute little pig to grind it by hand) and add garlic flakes, salt and pepper. Chop as finely as your device of choice makes possible. (Mine had small pieces of garlic and they sort of carmelized while cooking, lending a hint of sweetness to the overall spicy flavor of the rub.

Rub on ribs, place them on a pan that allows the fat to drip off them and away, and bake in a 275°F oven until they are falling apart...or something like it. These cooked for about 5 hours and got turned up for 15 minutes at the end to glaze the sauce. Totally fell apart when I turned them to put sauce on the second side.

Notes for v.2: Double the chipotles, increase the heat a bit with more cayenne...or something different if I get around to ordering spices from Penzey's

Apricot Pineapple BBQ Sauce

medium onion, diced (1/4 inch) 1
cooking oil, to just coat the pan (your choice, but don't waste the good stuff)
dried apricots, diced, 1/2 cup
dried pineapple, diced, 1/2 cup
dried ginger (I used candied because it was what I had)
fresh garlic, 1 head, peeled and chopped coarsely
honey, scant 1/4 cup
ground cumin, 1 tsp
ground cayenne, 1 tsp
water, 1 cup (or more)
tomato paste, 1 cup

Saute the onions
in oil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until semi-translucent and starting to brown on the edges. Add rest of ingredients EXCEPT tomato paste and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Add tomato paste and more water if needed to make a not too thick sauce. (Meaning it shouldn't be so thick it scorches on a very low burner.) Cook on low for about 30 minutes, then cover it, turn off the burner, and leave it there until the ribs are ready for sauce. If you have a burner where your oven vents heat, put it there instead while the ribs cook and it'll be even better...) Smooth with an immersion blender (or a regular one) just before using; it won't be perfectly smooth.

Brush sauce on back side of ribs, turn oven up to 350 and cook long enough to glaze. Turn and repeat. Glazing both sides takes about 10-15 minutes in my oven, yours will probably vary because the oven manufacturers of the world are messing with us when it comes to accuracy in oven temperatures...but that's another rant entirely.

Notes for v.2: Needs more heat, try habaneros. Replace honey with (less?) maple syrup. Needs chipotles or other smoky flavor.

I made a quick coleslaw with cabbage from last week's CSA bag and determined two things: coleslaw is really good with BBQ and I need a better recipe. Mine was made with mayo, sour cream, locally made cider vinegar, lemon juice, and a handful of chopped fresh lovage; it was okay, just lacking in distinction. It even sounds like it's pretty indifferent. Suggestions for better slaw are welcome (I'm counting on Kevin and his southern-ness to come through with some seriously good pressure or anything...)

Later we picked strawberries from the garden and put them on vanilla ice cream with shavings of bittersweet and milk chocolate. Sweet, simple, and I got to lick chocolate off my fingers.

I love summer.

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