Loin back ribs, also known as baby back ribs, don't really come from baby hogs, but rather from the loin bones of adult pigs. Loin back ribs are small and are usually served as a half-rack or rack of six to 13 ribs. They may be tougher than other ribs, but they become tender and flavorful with long, slow cooking. Loin back ribs are at home at picnics, family reunions or a simple family dinner. You can pre-cook ribs and simply reheat them for a busy weeknight meal.
For tender, fall-off-the-bone meat, first smoke the ribs over low, indirect heat. Then add a flavorful liquid, such as apple juice, and seal the ribs in aluminum foil. Add a flavorful blend of herbs and spices to the liquid by stirring in dry salad dressing and seasoning mix. Braise the ribs in the oven or closed grill set at a low temperature of 275 F to 300 F for several more hours. To get that characteristic smoky taste and crunchy texture, finish the ribs on a hot grill. Baste them with barbecue sauce during the final cooking process.
Long, slow cooking is the most important factor in cooking loin back ribs successfully. The second consideration is seasoning, a topic that elicits strong opinions from rib connoisseurs. Many people like sweet, slightly fiery ribs with a kick, although others prefer plain old salt and pepper. Prepare a rub, which is a combination of dry seasonings, by mixing brown sugar, garlic, dry mustard, chili powder or cumin together. Some people like jalapeno pepper for more kick. Experiment to get the taste combination you prefer. For a simple and flavorful rub, use dry salad dressing and seasoning mix. Apply the rub several hours before you cook the ribs to allow the flavors to permeate the meat.
For most people, ribs aren't ribs unless they're glazed with a sweet, zesty sauce. Still, some people prefer ribs with a dry rub only, or the sauce served on the side. Sauce preferences are very individualistic. Try a few commercial varieties to find one that suits you or make your own. Most sauces have a tomato or molasses base with vinegar, honey or hot sauce added for flavor. Choose the sauce base you prefer, and spice it up with a pungent dry dressing and dip mix.
Traditional side dishes to serve with ribs vary regionally, but some classic options include potato salad, coleslaw, fried green tomatoes, corn on the cob, baking powder biscuits and a pitcher of fresh lemonade. Add a fresh twist by using creamy salad dressing in potato salad and slaw, and season vegetables with dry dressing mix instead of plain salt. Come hungry and bring plenty of napkins. Top the meal off with blackberry cobbler or homemade chocolate cake.
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- "Ribs, Chops, Steaks & Wings"; Ray Lampe; 2009
- "Lobel's Meat Bible"; Stanley Lobel, et al.; 2009
Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."