Recipe: Appleback Ribs


Today marks the beginning of the 2012 college football season. With it, comes the return of The "Q" Review's Game Day Recipe series. Since last season, a great deal has changed. My family and I have left North Carolina and returned to our home town in Southern Michigan. The week 1 Game Day Recipe pays tribute to our beloved home state's agricultural and culinary heritage by infusing apple flavor into baby back pork ribs.

"Appleback" is a phrase that I thought quite clever when the concept first began to germinate in my mind.  Alas, a quick Google search revealed that I wasn't so clever (or original) after all. In fact, the interwebs contain numerous references to and recipes for "Appleback" ribs. Let it be known, however, that I did not copy this recipe from anyone in particular. I simply adjusted my usual baby back cooking methods slightly to allow for more apple usage.

Ingredients
3 Racks of Babyback Ribs (loin back)
1 apple sauce snack cup
1-2 cups of apple juice
Sweet (low sodium) BBQ rub
Apple based BBQ sauce

Cook Time: Approximately 4 hours


Peel the membrane from each rack of ribs and season both sides with BBQ rub. I chose Butcher BBQ's Honey Rub because of it's sweet, mild ingredients. I think it's an excellent compliment to pork and allows the apple flavors in the other ingredients to stand out.


Set up your grill or smoker for indirect heat with a target temperature of 250 degrees. We're smoking these ribs with only apple wood (of course).



After an hour, brush or spray each rack with apple juice. Replenish the smoking wood if necessary.

After two hours of smoking, it's time to tent the ribs. Spoon the apple sauce and brown sugar on long sheets of aluminum foil. Try to spread the sweet mixture out about as long a full rack of ribs. Put the ribs meat side down on the foil and wrap tightly. Put the ribs back on the grill / smoker until tender (1-2 additonal hours).


Once unwrapped, the ribs be tender enough to pull apart, but not so tender that they fall apart. Brush the ribs with your favorite apple based BBQ sauce. I chose The Berry Patch's Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce. After applying the sauce to both sides of each rack, the ribs go back on the smoker for an additional 20-30 minutes.

The end result is a mouthwatering rack of smokey bones with a sweet, subtle apple flavor. Apple is a great compliment to pork, but cherry and peach flavor profiles can be equally delicious. The same steps above can be applied.





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