In Coconuts and Collards, Von Diaz looks at the meeting point between Puerto Rican food traditions and Southern cooking.
These are fall-off-the-bone, finger-lickin’ addictive ribs. I made them once for Tata, and I swear she ate half a rack alone, wiping BBQ sauce off her face with the back of her hand, as did my pseudo-vegetarian mother. My advice: go ahead and double the recipe. You won’t be sorry. Special thanks to Lisa Thrower for sharing her rib wisdom for this recipe.
- Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a small food processor and blend into a smooth puree, scraping the sides halfway through to fully incorporate.
- Combine the guava nectar, guavas, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, until reduced and thickened. The sauce will darken slightly and have a glossy sheen. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the fruit with the back of a large spoon to get the most out of the juice.
- Whisk in the mustard, ketchup, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Whisk the smoked paprika and achiote into the adobo. Place the ribs in a large shallow baking dish and pour over the adobo. Cover with aluminum foil and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight if possible.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Place the marinated ribs in a new baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 3 hours, or until the ribs are evenly browned and a significant amount of fat has separated from the meat.
- Remove from the oven, remove the foil, and transfer to an oven-safe wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
- Turn the broiler to Low. Baste the ribs with BBQ sauce and place under the broiler. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes, watching closely to make sure the ribs don’t burn, until crisp and browned on top.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into individual ribs, brush with BBQ sauce, and serve with remaining BBQ sauce.
From Coconuts and Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South by Von Diaz. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2018. Reprinted by permission of the University Press of Florida. Photo by Cybelle Codish