My Favorite Eastern North Carolina Ribs Recipe | Simplified and Paired

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A ginger kick, fewer steps and finished on the grill. 
Taste? Delicious!

This summer, I've been experimenting with my oven settings and began using a new Hibachi grill. It's been a lot of fun to use my favorite recipes in new ways. It also occurred to me, there must be a way to simplify some of these recipes.

Today, I wanted to share with you an updated version of my go to ribs recipe (this recipe originally appeared on my March 14, 2015 post ). The recipe is based on an Eastern North Carolina ribs recipe, so it is vinegar based.


*Note: In 2013 I was in Raleigh, North Carolina for a media visit with Nomacorc. Of the many takeaways from that visit, I learned how seriously they regard barbecue in North Carolina, east vs. west, vinegar or ketchup, tradition vs. innovation. I went east, with a vinegar sauce based on tradition. Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of barbecue. It is also packed full of wonderful recipes and includes instructions for constructing your own backyard barbecue pit. Love this book.

SIMPLIFIED?


Ginger, I use it every week in my cooking. Sometimes every day. It goes into my fried rice, on my roasted chicken, salads, and today, it's on baby back ribs. Yes, a simpler recipe with a ginger kick. A four hour marinade, three and a half hours cooking, and minimal interaction, so you can get stuff done while the ribs slowly do their thing. And there's still room for you to modify and personalize. Like finishing on the grill.

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Ginger, ginger, ginger.



*Note: cooking time. Since I was experimenting, I let the ribs cook in the oven 3.5 hours per recipe. However, I noticed at 3 hours, the ribs smelled strongly in the house. My impulse was to remove them from the oven 30 minutes early. I resisted. And left them in the full 3.5 hours at 300 degrees F. When I removed the cooked ribs from the oven, the meat was nearly falling off the bone...if that's what you want, follow the recipe exactly (perfect for a pulled pork sandwich.) If however, you want a meatier rib, more juicy, less fall apart, then 3 hours at 300 degrees F should deliver (as my impulse suggested.)  


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Ingredients for the marinade.

RECIPE

Ingredients:

3 Lbs. Baby Back Ribs (2.86 actual)

For the Marinade

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. diced garlic
2"-3" piece ginger, peeled and sliced
4 dashes black pepper

PLUS

2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar (applied just before baking)

1/3 cup baking liquid (either: apple juice, wine, chicken stock, or water)

Directions:

1. Make the marinade by mixing six ingredients in a bowl. Set aside while you,

2. Remove the fine membrane from the bone side of the ribs. The membrane is pale white, and very thin. If you have difficulty, you can skip this step.

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Removing membrane from ribs.


3. In a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish, place the ribs bone side up. I split the ribs in half so that they fit the casserole better. Which also helps to finish on the Hibachi grill. Add marinade, coat all sides of the ribs. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate 4 hours in the refrigerator or overnight.

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Ribs covered in the marinade, ready for the refrigerator.

COOK/BAKE

*Note: Remove marinated ribs from refrigerator one hour before baking.


4. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

5. Brown Sugar: After marinating four hours, remove ribs from fridge. Shake marinade off ribs (leave marinade in the casserole, we will use it to bake), place the ribs on a platter. Then rub ribs with brown sugar on all sides. Set aside.

6. Remove the sliced ginger from the marinade and reserve, place the ribs, meat side up, back in the casserole dish with remainder of marinade. Then place ginger slices on top of the ribs. Add 1/3 cup apple juice (or preferred liquid) into the casserole for baking.

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Almost ready for oven, note sliced ginger on top.


7. Cover casserole with foil. Place in preheated oven. Bake at 300 F for 3.5 hours (or only 3 hours for firmer rib meat.) The foil will trap the moisture and gently cook the ribs.

After 3.5 hours (or only 3) remove from oven and let rest. Then you can,

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Finishing the baby back ribs on the Hibachi grill.

GRILL/FINISH

I used a Hibachi grill to finish. In the previous recipe, I finished under the broiler. I much prefer grilling on the Hibachi. The cooking surface is modest, so splitting the ribs in half allows more room to work while grilling, and I'm less likely to drop them. Adds a nice char and wonderful smoky notes. Fun too!


8. Fire up the Hibachi while the ribs are resting. I used charcoal and a chimney. Heat up time was only 10-15 minutes with charcoal. Clean and oil the grates before cooking.


*Note: Briquettes will take longer to heat than charcoal. Adjust your  timing if you use briquettes. 


9. While the coals are heating in the chimney, place the ribs on a clean platter. Then drain the leftover pan drippings from the casserole into a small pot and simmer, reduce the liquid by half. This will be used for basting on the grill. Smelled wonderful, full of savory ginger.

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Drain the drippings for the basting sauce.


10. Grill each side of the ribs in 2-3 minute intervals. Baste each side after you flip. Each side will need 2-3 turns. Use your own judgement regarding char and caramelization. It's done when it looks done.

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Basting the ribs is fun and full of smoke and fire!

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Plated ribs, so tender a knife is not needed.

As I mentioned above, the rib meat was almost falling off the bone. Tender and delicious with a wonderful ginger zing and smoky grilled flavor! This is now my favorite method for cooking baby back ribs. I hope it becomes one of your favorites too. So easy.

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Paired the ribs with a gorgeous Oregon, Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir.

OREGON WINE PAIRINGS

These ribs want wine for ultimate enjoyment. I'll share with you notes on the wine I chose, plus additional wine paring recommendations. That vinegar marinade, and smoky grilling, provides this recipe many pairing opportunities.

*Note: If you look at my original recipe and wine pairing, you'll see that I paired that recipe with an Oregon Pinot Noir. Oregon Pinot Noir worked well with this modified recipe too.

1. Rain Dance 2015 Estate Pinot Noir Nicholas Vineyard Willamette Valley

Lovely mouthfeel, soft opening, followed by friendly medium tannin and surprising acid tingles, textured on tongue and roof, flavors of dried cherries and rose petals, earthy edged, dry, with red berries, into the finish there's that earthy edge, with orange peel and chocolate, medium minus finish. Dang...so good. The acid matched the fat and smoke, a compelling contrast of flavors, wine and food. Delicious. Strongly recommended. Even better on days two and three.
ABV: 14.3%
SRP: $30
Winery info: www.raindancevineyards.com


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Left Coast Cellars 2018 Estate Rose'

2. Left Coast Cellars 2018 Estate Rose 

You'll notice the pale melon color first, no worries, so much going on. Aromas of spicy cinnamon, rose petals, cherry, melon will greet you next. Third, flavors of cinnamon, cherry candy, on this dry wine will surprise, so interesting, crisp, with a touch of creaminess, spicy, peach, cucumber and cinnamon lingered on the finish.Never experienced a rose' like this before. Big like. Would provide a beautiful contrast when pairing with these ribs.
ABV: 13.7%
Pinot Noir 76%, pinot Meunier 24%
SRP: $24
Winery info: www.leftcoastwine.com

SPANISH WINE PAIRINGS

I should not have to mention my fondness for Spanish wines. Unless you don't know me. I'm a HUGE fan of wines from the Iberian peninsula. As I tell many of my guests, "Spanish wines are made for food. They have 2,000 years of practice."

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2017 Paniza Syrah

1. Paniza Syrah 2017

Beautiful nose, dark slate, violets, leather, very ripe blueberry, soy sauce and almost coffee. Flavors of dark fruit, soy sauce, savory, dried basil, dried tarragon, lavender, fluid, medium body, with dried blueberries and tar into a medium plus finish. Almost elegant. Enjoyable drinker. Very good.
Ribs should be a good match with this Syrah. The wine showed earthy and floral notes, mushroom, blueberry, violets and lavender. Yum for a wonderful pairing.
ABV: 14.5%
Syrah 100%
SRP: $15
Winery info: www.bodegaspaniza.com/en

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2016 Particular Cariñena

2. Particular 2016 Cariñena

Polished wine, dry, focused to front, cherry and tamarind, medium intensity, fine tannin, canned cherry, slate and thin coffee on the medium plus finish. Wants food. And wants these ribs. Drinks like a classic food wine. Made me hungry. Perfect companion for any ribs!
ABV: 14%
Cariñena 100%
Winery info: www.sanvalero.com/en

WASHINGTON WINE PAIRING

This is a powerhouse of a vintage. It took 2-3 days for this wine to open, to the point, where I could enjoy with food. It was worth the wait. Use a big glass for this one.

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2015 Delille Cellars Doyenne

1. Delille Cellars 2015 Doyenne

This is a big, robust wine. It took a couple of days for this wine to reach a point where it would pair well with ribs. Day two: Textured, bright, medium plus intensity, focus to front, ripe blueberry, very dry on gums, cherry pie, road tar, medium plus finish. Acid shows, wants acidic food. Day three: Savory and bright nose, bacon, dark fruit, white pepper, violets, medium plus intensity, lovely. Blue fruit, more integrated, medium plus intensity, tar, savory and fruity, dry, fine tannin on tongue and gums, nice grip, balanced and tasty, focus more mid-palate, dried black cherry, and dark creamy chocolate mint on medium plus finish. Rocking on day three. So ready to drink. My speed. Rocked.
This wine benefited from a generous red wine glass. Enjoy with ribs days one and two. Just drink on day three. You're welcome.
ABV: 14.3%,
Syrah 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%
SRP: $45
Winery info: www.delillecellars.com

ARGENTINA WINE PAIRINGS

Organic grapes, food friendly, and I've seen these wines from Argentina for as little as $11. This winery has a re-designed label and is emphasizing best practices in the vineyard. Terrific value in both these red wines. 

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Santa Julia 2017 Malbec Mendoz, Argentina.

1. Santa Julia 2017 Malbec Mendoza

The nose was fruity, with raspberry, violets, boysenberry and white pepper. Palate with modest body was fruity, dry, juicy, with boysenberry, raspberry, cola, whisper of dark chocolate and orange zest into the medium plus finish. Fun and very drinkable. Should be ready for ribs at open. An enjoyable sipper. Like this wine, friendly drinking, nothing serious here, just a fun drinking Malbec.
ABV: 13.5%
Malbec 100%
SRP: $15
Winery info: www.santajulia.com.ar

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Santa Julia 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

2. Santa Julia 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza Argentina

Easy drinking wine, approachable, and dry enough to match these ribs. Hard cherry candy, the one with a string from the Dentist office, black currant, minerality, soft mouth feel, dry, medium plus intensity, dirty violets, gentle tingle on gums, blueberry with road tar, medium plus finish. Like. Enjoyable drinking wine. I will mention that on day four: Yum! Dark fruit, focused, cherry and stems, modest body, light mid-palate, firm tannin on gums, red apple skin, satisfying medium finish. Yum. Drink, drink, drink.
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $15
Winery info: www.santajulia.com.ar


Enjoy!

- William

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