When I came across this gem by Steven Raichlen of Barbeque U fame, I couldn’t get it off my mind. Cherry + chipotle + beef? Hell yes!
It starts with a intoxicating spice rub, and finishes with a smoky-sweet bbq sauce unlike any other. The ribs are slow-cooked on the grill, and the tender, über–flavorful meat that resulted was even better than I’d imagined. It’s perfect on a summer day, and I’d recommend serving it with cornbread to soak up the extra sauce!
If I ever end up in one of those backyard rib contests, this would be my entry for sure. These were hands down the best ribs I’ve ever tasted. How about you? Do you have a favorite (perhaps award-winning) rib recipe? Tell us all about in the comment section!
Cherry-Chipotle Beef Ribs
—adapted from Epicurious—
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Two beef rib racks (6 to 8 pounds total; 8-10" long bones)
- 1½ cups cherry juice
- 1 cup ketchup
- cup cherry preserves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons light molasses
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
- 1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from can
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Spray bottle
- 2 cups hardwood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- To make a spice rub, mix first 7 ingredients together in a small bowl. Place the ribs on baking sheets. Evenly coat both sides of rib racks with spice rub. Let the ribs sit at room temperature while preparing the grill. Fill a spray bottle with cherry juice and set aside.
- If you have a gas grill, remove top rack and turn heat to medium. If the grill has 2 burners, only light 1 burner. If it has 3, light the 2 outer burners and leave the middle burner off. Lay out a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or a couple layers of foil if it's not heavy-duty). Drain the wood chips and place half of the chips (1 cup) in the center of the foil. Wrap the foil around the chips and poke some holes in the foil for ventalation. Repeat with the other 1 cup of wood chips. Place the foil-wrapped chips directly over the heat (if using a 3-burner grill, place one on each side). Layer 2-3 pieces of foil (about 12" x 8") to create a make-shift drip pan, and place over the unlit part of the grill. Replace top rack.
- If you have a charcoal grill, remove top rack. Layer 2-3 pieces of heavy-duty foil (about 12" x 8") to create a make-shift drip pan. Place drip pan in the center of lower grill rack. Light charcoal briquettes in chimney starter and pour onto lower grill rack, arranging around the drip pan. Drain the wood chips. Sprinkle the chips evenly over the coals. Put the grill rack back on the barbeque (you may need to start additional briquettes in chimney to add to coals in barbeque as needed).
- Arrange ribs on grill rack over "drip pan" (it's fine if ribs are longer than pan). Cover grill and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover grill and rotate ribs (but don't flip them over). Spritz rib racks with cherry juice. Replace cover and continue to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes longer, spraying with cherry juice every 15 minutes. Meat is done when it has started to reduce (shrinking away from the ends of the bones), is very tender and nicely browned.
- Brush ribs with Cherry-Chipotle BBQ Sauce (recipe below). Turn ribs over and grill over direct heat for about 2 minutes or until lightly charred. Remove from grill and transfer to cutting surface. Cut between bones, brush with remaining BBQ sauce, and serve.
- Mix ketchup, cherry preserves, lemon juice, molasses, brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon peel, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, cocoa powder, and onion powder in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Bring heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.