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Author Notes: Sweet, zesty & full of hearty flavor. Fall-off-the-bone tender! With Rosemary, Cayenne, Brown Sugar, & Balsamic... Inspired by & adapted from Ian Knauer. —Holly
For The Rub
- Extra wide (18") heavy duty aluminum foil
- 1 Large sized disposable aluminum roasting pan
- 3 large racks baby back ribs (around 10 pounds) - also sold as "pork loin back ribs"
- 1/4 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 13 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- Combine all ingredients for the rub in a medium bowl. Mix well.
- Tear off three pieces of foil at least 8 inches longer than the racks of ribs. Place them where you have easy access to them, shiny side facing down.
- Spoon ⅓ of the rub over one rack of ribs and coat thoroughly. Then place the rack meat-side down onto a piece of foil.
- Carefully bring together the long edges of the foil, then roll them together down toward the ribs. Close and roll up the short ends of the foil to seal the ribs for cooking.
- Transfer all the foil-enclosed ribs to the aluminum roasting pan. If you have three racks of ribs, you can stack the third one right on top of the other two.
- Refrigerate and marinate for at least 12 hours.
Slow Cook, Then Grill The Ribs:
- 1 1/4 cups balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more if you like it spicy)
- cooking liquids from the ribs
- Place oven rack in center position, and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place baking tray with ribs in the oven. Cook at 350 for the first 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 and bake for another 90 minutes.
- After the first 2 hours, rotate the foil packets. Leave the temperature at 300 and cook for another 90 minutes.
- At this point check to be sure the ribs are done: leaving the ribs in the baking tray, carefully open one end of one foil packet. (Be careful the steam is extremely hot.) You should see that the meat has started to pull away from the bone. Gently test with a fork to ensure that they are tender and give easily, but still hold their shape to be able to survive grilling or broiling. Check multiple foil packets in the same way. If they need more time, re-seal the foil and return them to the oven for another 15-30 minutes.
- Carefully pour all the cooking liquid from the ribs into a large saucepan. If desired, skim off fat. Gently place the ribs on a large cookie sheet with the bone side down and set aside. Discard the foil that was used to bake the ribs.
- Add the additional balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne to the saucepan with cooking liquids. Mix thoroughly over medium heat, and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Allow it to cook long enough to reduce somewhat and thicken… usually about 15-20 minutes. The result should be somewhere around 1½ cups of sauce.
- Using a basting brush, cover the meat side of ribs with the sauce. Don’t worry about the bone side at this point.
- Thoroughly oil grill grates using paper towels and canola or olive oil, then bring grill to 450 degrees.
- Place ribs bone-side down on the grill, cook with lid closed for 3 minutes. (NOTE: If you do not have a grill you can use a broiler instead. Leave the ribs bone-side down and broil until caramelized, about 5-7 minutes).
- Gently turn the ribs over, meat side down. Brush the bone side of the ribs with a small amount of BBQ sauce. Leave the grill open, and closely monitor the ribs during this step! Grill the ribs long enough to caramelize, without burning them. You may need to adjust grill heat as necessary to achieve this, but normally this takes around 5 minutes. Place the grilled ribs bone-side down onto a cookie sheet, then re-apply BBQ sauce over the meat side.