" Sommersby" Jack's Back Ribs

Ready for a rubdown? Actually, for this meal you need to rubdown some ribs. Don't worry, it's not as weird as it sounds, and these succulent slabs of meat are worth the effort!

You will need:

The rub:

  • 3 tablespoons each: granulated sugar, brown sugar, onion salt, garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons each: paprika, chili powder, ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each: finely grated lemon peel, ground white pepper, ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ground thyme, ground ginger, cayenne pepper

The ribs:

  • 6-8 lbs. baby back ribs (they usually weigh a little over 1-pound per slab)
  • 1/2 cup mustard, combined with 1/4 cup each: apple cider and peanut oil

The sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

The smoke:

  • 3 cups hickory chips, soaked in water and wrapped in aluminum foil
  • 123 minutes set aside to screen the 1982 classic art house blockbuster "The Return of Martin Guerre."


1. Combine all of the rub ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Sift in batches to blend thoroughly and store in an airtight container until use.

2. Rinse the ribs and remove the thin membrane running along the bone. This is best achieved by sliding the tip of your knife under the membrane and gently pulling up.

3. Spread the ribs with mustard-cider mixture to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with dry rub. This actually works a little better than rubbing. (Maybe it should be called a dry "sprinkle.") Wrap ribs with plastic or transfer to a plastic bag and refrigerate anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours. A short marinade is better than nothing. Remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to cooking.

4. Make the sauce: Combine the butter, diced onion, finely chopped garlic, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. When the onion just becomes translucent, whisk in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

5. While the sauce cooks, fire up the "Q". If you are using a gas grill, light one side only. When the coals are ready, push them to one side of the barbecue and place the foil wrapped hickory chips either directly on top of the coals or over the gas grill's lava rocks.

6. Place the ribs on the grill, away from the heat, bone-side down. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning every 30 minutes. If your coals begin to burn out before the ribs are finished cooking, add 10-15 more briquettes or wrap ribs with foil and transfer to a 250F oven. The ribs are done when a fork inserted between the ribs slides in easily and the bones begin to loosen up nicely. Wrap with foil and allow to rest 20 minutes before serving.

7. In a hurry? The barbecuing time can be shortened to about 45 minutes by parboiling the ribs before applying the rub. Simply cover with cold water (after removing the membrane) and bring to a low simmer, NOT A BOIL, and cook 30 minutes. Drain, cool, and proceed from step 3.

8. After dinner, explain passionately to your guests that a drifter, that just happened to be your double, made the unfortunate mess in the kitchen. Then arrange to have yourself hanged until dead.

Serves four to six

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