Barbecued Spareribs

I am constantly experimenting with barbecue sauces, since I like that sweet-sour finish–what Italians would call “agrodolce” –on a variety of meats and poultry.  I strived to formulate a barbecue sauce that was cleaner and tangier than most commercial sauces and with as few ingredients as possible (there are 12 ingredients, but you  may already have all of them in your pantry/fridge).  This version is absolutely sparkling, tangy, yet comfortingly sweet, and is very simple to prepare.

The predominant ingredient is ketchup.  I resisted this notion for a while and tried to use tomato paste as the main ingredient.  The predominance of tomato paste made the sauce taste more like  a thick tomato sauce, rather than a sweet-sour barbecue sauce.  Therefore, although tomato paste is an ingredient in this sauce, it is not the predominant ingredient.  

The sauce  begins with a saute of chopped onions and smashed garlic (I like to smash it and remove the big pieces after the sauce is cooked).  The onions basically melt into the sauce.  The remaining ingredients are pretty standard–a combination of vinegars, citrus juices and sweeteners.  I’ve done a lot of trial and error and I’m giving you exact quantities, although the sweetness can vary depending on the ketchup you use (I used Annie’s Natural, which is quite sweet).

The ribs get baked in foil for an hour-and-a-half, then they go over the coals.  The barbecue sauce gets slathered on and they finish on the grill, leaving a sticky mess for you to burn off of your grill grates–but it’s worth it!

I’m serving these ribs with a red cabbage and green apple slaw, corn salad and baked potatoes.

Barbecued Spareribs

serves 4

3 racks of pork baby back ribs

1 onion, cut in large chunks

2 tbls olive oil

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

barbecue sauce (see below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (or preheat grill, leaving one side of the grill turned off).  Season racks of ribs with salt and pepper, then add oil and scatter onions about.  Cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. 

Remove ribs from foil, place on the grates of pre-heated grill (meat side up) and slather on barbecue sauce.  Grill on low heat, turning once, for about 10 minutes.  Serve with additional sauce on the side. 

Barbecue Sauce

1/2 small onion, diced finely

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbls olive oil

1 cup ketchup

1/4 c orange juice

juice of half a lemon

1 tbl agave

1 tbl brown sugar

1/4 c red wine vinegar

1/4 c cider vinegar

1 tbl dijon mustard

1 tbl tomato paste

Saute onions and garlic on low heat in oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender and just beginning to turn golden.  Add in remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat, uncovered for about 15 minutes.  Remove garlic pieces and use.  Will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

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