Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Baby Back Rib & Slaw Sliders

I'm always looking for new ways to serve barbecue and in the past few months my Baby Back Rib & Slaw Sliders have become a hit among friends and family.  On New Year's Day I posted a little something on Facebook about the Sliders; however, I goofed by not including the recipe.  (Honestly, I was just too hungry.)  So just in time for the BCS National Championship (or Super Bowl, if you're a pro fan), I'm making amends by including the whole rig.  It's all here—from ribs to rub to sauce to slaw.
Baby Back Rib & Slaw Sliders

Of course you can short-cut the entire process by visiting your local 'cue joint to pick up ribs, sauce, slaw, and pickles.  All you'd need at that point are a few packages of King's Hawaiian Snacker Rolls, which are critical to this recipe—the slightly sweet rolls are the perfect size, plus their soft texture seems to just hug the barbecue.  However, if you have the time, the payoff for preparing this recipe yourself is huge (and delicious).

In full disclosure, I nicked the grilling/smoking method from my buddy Troy Black a few years ago—Troy's an award-winning, competitive barbecue chef (he's also the guy behind LEARN 2 QUE).  I've been smoking and grilling a long time, and Troy's method for ribs is unbeatable (and perfect for a kettle grill).   

Couple of notes for barbecue first-timers: Soak wood chips overnight to ensure they smoke, rather than burn; invest in a chimney starter to create perfect coals (coals should have a gray ash cover before adding to grill); for those using a kettle grill, pick up a set of charcoal holders—they'll make your life much easier by corralling the coals.

Let me know what you think.  Happy barbecuin'!

Makes about 10 to 12 sandwiches
Prep: 20 min., Chill: 8 hr., Grill: 6 hr.
Serve with a fork and lots of napkins.

3 slabs baby back pork ribs
All-Purpose Barbecue Rub
Apple juice
All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce
3 packs, King's Hawaiian Snacker Rolls
Tangy Slaw
Stackers-style dill pickle slices

Rinse and pat ribs dry.  Remove thin membrane from back of ribs by slicing into it with a knife and then pulling. (This will make the ribs more tender and allow the meat to better absorb rub and smoke.)

Sprinkle meat generously with All-Purpose Barbecue Rub.  Massage rub into meat.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill at least 8 hours.

Prepare a hot fire by piling charcoal on 1 side of grill, leaving other side empty.  (For gas grills, light only 1 side.)  Place cooking grate on grill.  Arrange ribs over unlit side.

Grill 2 hours, covered with grill lid, adding 5 to 7 charcoal pieces every 45 minutes to 1 hour, and keeping the temperature between 225˚ and 250˚. Add a handful of hickory chips to the charcoal every 20 to 30 minutes.  Spritz ribs with apple juice from a squeeze-trigger sprayer each time you add wood chips and coals.

Reposition rib slabs occasionally, placing one closest to the heat source in the back and adding soaked hickory chips and hot coals as needed to maintain a temperature between 225˚ and 250˚.  Grill 2 more hours.  Remove ribs from grill, and place on heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Spritz ribs generously with apple juice; tightly seal.  Place foil-wrapped ribs back on grill; cook 2 more hours.

Remove ribs from foil, place flat on grill, and baste generously with All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce.  Grill 20 more minutes.  Remove from grill, and let stand 10 minutes.  Remove meat from bones, and chop.

Combine chopped rib meat and 1/4 cup All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce (use more, if desired).  Divide pork among bottom halves of rolls.  Top each with SLAW and pickle; cover with remaining roll tops.

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub:
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
This versatile rub also works on Boston butts and chicken quarters. I've been known to sprinkle this over potatoes (for a mean potato salad) and veggies before grilling.

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated garlic
2 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 Tbsp. onion powder

Combine all ingredients.  Store in airtight container up to 3 months.

All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce:
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
This versatile sauce also pairs well with chicken.

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chili sauce
1/2 cup cola soft drink
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/2 tsp. salt

Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a saucepan 4 to 5 minutes or until tender.  Add chili sauce and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 20 minutes.

Tangy Slaw:
Makes 4 to 6 servings (or enough for 10 to 12 sliders)

1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (16-oz.) bag coleslaw mix

Stir together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add coleslaw mix, tossing gently.  Cover and chill 2 hours.  Serve with a slotted spoon.

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