Ribs are one of the dishes that my parents ask me to make the most whenever I host family dinners. My parents loved going to BBQ joints for birthdays, and after spending hundreds year after year on dry mac and cheese and ribs with very little to no meat, I decided to make everything myself for half the cost. I like to braise the ribs in a mixture reminiscent of the flavors of a michelada—beer, Clamato, Worcestershire sauce—and braising them makes them really juicy and tender so the cooked meat just falls off the bone. I love deviled eggs, so along with the ribs I like to serve a creamy deviled egg macaroni salad, the cheesiest rajas con mac and cheese (mac and cheese with diced jalapeño and poblano chiles), and sweet and buttery corn bread muffins made with a mixture of cornmeal and masa harina to enhance the flavor of the corn.Recipes for those favorites follow so you can easily make your own BBQ-style dinner at home!
- In a medium saucepan, bring 3½ cups (830 ml) water to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the hibiscus and anchos. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to let the chiles soften.
- With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the hibiscus, then add the chiles and the soaking liquid to a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Once the chile mixture is smooth and completely blended, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve back into the saucepan it was steeping in, pressing on any solids left behind to make sure you get out as much flavor as possible.
- Whisk the tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes. Adjust the salt to taste.
- Let the mixture come to room temperature, then transfer to a sealed container. You can use this right away or store in the fridge sealed tightly, where it will keep for up to 2 weeks—the flavors develop a little more if made a day ahead.
- Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C) then place the peppers on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes; set the peppers aside to cool completely.
- Once the peppers have cooled, place them in a spice grinder along with the peppercorns, coriander, and cumin and pulse until everything is roughly ground up, but not fine.
- Pour the coarse mixture into a small mason jar, then add the salt, garlic, and onion. Place the lid on and shake to combine. This spice mix can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.
- Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
- Break the ribs down into four 1-pound (455 g) racks to ensure they cook evenly. Place a large piece of foil on top of a baking sheet without tucking in the edges. Place one of the slabs of ribs on the foil, sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of the steak seasoning, and use your hands to pat it into the meat. Seal up the ribs in an individual foil packet, leaving one end open to pour in the braising liquid. Repeat this process with the remaining slabs of ribs.
- In a large measuring cup, whisk together the beer, Clamato juice, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and sugar to make a braising liquid.
- Dividing evenly, pour the braising liquid into the open end of each one of the rib packets, then seal them completely. Arrange the ribs on two baking sheets.
- Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 hours 45 minutes, switching the baking sheets from rack to rack at the 1½-hour mark.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and turn the broiler to high. Drain the braising liquid, discard the foil, and place the ribs back onto your pan. (If your broiler is small, you’ll have to slice your racks in half and work in batches.) Brush some BBQ sauce onto both sides of the ribs and broil until the sauce caramelizes, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush on more of the BBQ sauce, and broil for another 4 minutes for the sauce to finish caramelizing, then remove and brush on a generous third coat. Repeat with the remaining slabs of ribs.
- To serve: Let the ribs cool for a few minutes, then cut into individual-sized portions and serve with extra BBQ sauce on the side. Accompany the ribs with muffins, macaroni salad, and mac and cheese.
Reprinted with permission from Chicano Eats by Esteban Castillo.