After our endless winter, we finally had a warm snap this weekend. The temperature went from the forties on Friday to a high of 78*F on Sunday. I had to grill.
My local grocery store had extra-meaty slabs of baby back ribs on sale. I’m not used to this – when I started grilling, you had to double check the packages, to make sure you didn’t get shiners – ribs where the meat had been cut down to the bone, and the shiny ribs were showing through. Now they’re selling “extra meaty” ribs. I had to get some.
I was wandering around the La Caja China website, looking at yet another barbecue toy I desperately want, but can’t justify.
*I can hear the conversation now. “Yes, dear, I really needed this charcoal fired roasting box. Why? So I could cook a whole pig. And ten chickens. But who’s counting…what’s that dear? For who? You don’t think the five of us can finish eighty pounds of pork?”
Even though I won’t buy the roasting box, thoughts of Cuban pork bounced around in my head. This recipe is what happened when I took the flavors from a couple different mojo recipes and ran with them.
*I’m substituting a mix of orange, lemon and lime for the sour orange that is traditional in mojo sauce. I liked Adam Perry Lang’s mop sauce, so I mixed that in as well.
The ribs are a mix of crispy and tender pork, coated in spices, layered with the sweet-sour of the citrus based sauce. Even better – the ribs were gone in fifteen minutes, so I must have done something right!
Recipe: Rotisserie Baby Back Ribs, Cuban Style
Inspired By: Steven Raichlen, How To Grill
Cook time: 120 minutes
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x12″, or whatever fits your grill)
- 1 rack baby back ribs
- 3 quarts cold water
- 6 tablespoons table salt (or 3/4 cup kosher salt)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- zest of one orange
- zest of one lemon
- zest of one lime
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- juice of one orange
- juice of one lemon
- juice of one lime
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 minced clove garlic
1. Prep the ribs: Remove the membrane on the bone side of the rib. Loosen it by running a butter knife between the membrane and one of the bones on the end of the rib, then pull it off. Put the brine ingredients in a container large enough to hold the ribs and 3 quarts of water, and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the ribs, and brine for at least one hour and up to four in the refrigerator.
2. Rub and skewer the ribs: Combine the rub ingredients in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, and grind into a thick paste. Remove the ribs from the brine and pat dry. Spread the rub over the ribs, concentrating most of the rub on the meaty side. Weave the ribs onto the rotisserie spit, running the spit between every three bones on the rack. Secure the ends of the ribs with the rotisserie forks.
3. Prepare the grill: Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at medium heat. For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates and preheating the grill on high for ten to fifteen minutes. Then I turn the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) down to medium, and turn off all the other burners. (I leave the infrared burner off as well.) Finally, I put my drip pan in the middle of the grill, over the unlit burners. (See here for more rotisserie setup details.)
4. Cook the ribs: Put the skewer of ribs on the rotisserie, and start it spinning. Cook with the lid closed for 1 hr 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. (I had very meaty ribs, and I had to cook them for 1 hour and 45 minutes this time). The ribs are done when they are nicely browned, and the meat has pulled back from the bones on the end by about 1/2″.
5. Glaze the ribs: Increase the heat on the grill to high (I turn my two burners up, and light the infrared burner), then brush the ribs with the glaze. Cook for another ten minutes, basting the ribs with the glaze every few minutes.
6. Serve: Remove the ribs from the spit and brush one last time with the glaze. Let the ribs rest for 15 minutes. Cut the ribs into serving size portions and serve.
*Easier rub: Instead of fresh garlic, whole cumin, and whole coriander, use pre-ground cumin and coriander, and 4 teaspoons garlic powder. Zest the fruit, mix with the pre-ground spices, and it’s ready.
*Don’t have a rotisserie? Set your grill up for cooking on indirect medium heat, with a drip pan in the middle, just like I explain above. Then put the ribs on the grate, and flip them every half hour or so until they are cooked through. Other than that, it’s the same recipe.
*You can cook 1 or 2 racks of ribs at a time, depending on the size of your rotisserie skewer. On my kettle, I can just squeeze two racks onto the skewer; on my big Weber Summit, I can fit three easily. Three quarts of brine is enough to cover at least two slabs of ribs; it will depend on your container. The rub, however, will only cover one slab of ribs – double the rub for every rack of ribs you want to cook.
*If you forget to put the first fork on my spit before weaving the ribs, it’s OK. The fit is tight with the bones, and one fork is enough to hold the ribs steady. Um…not that if you look closely at the pictures you’ll see only one fork on my rotisserie spit or anything…
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Steven Raichlen: How To Grill
|Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.
Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
It’s a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!
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