St Louis Ribs (in about an hour)

This is a replication of the ribs that got me into the top three on MasterChef’s pork challenge. Obviously these ribs should be slow cooked for hours for optimal flavor, but with the proper techniques we can make these pretty damn awesome without taking our whole day off to do so.

Musical Pairing: The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual. These ribs are a labor of love, they had to be perfected over time and now they are simply amazing. The thing about them though, is that even before they were perfect, they were still kinda awesome – because hey, we are talking about ribs here. BDM fits with this because they were always a great band, all their albums are awesome, plain and simple, but there’s something about Ritual that is so much better than its predecessors. A sound and style that has been refined to near perfection, much like these ribs (and I’m sure Tervor would like them so much that he would eat enough to get a good case of heart burn).

Equipment: I know this is departure from the norm, but you will need some special equipment for this. You’ll need a good pressure cooker*, a steamer basket and a wok or vegetable steamer and large pot. A grill pan is also recommended.

*A note about pressure cookers: I’ve been using pressure cookers for a while but it wasn’t until MasterChef that I got to use a real pressure cooker. The kitchen was equipped with Fagor pressure cookers and there is marked difference in this pressure cooker and the piece of garbage I was using before, which was only good for speeding up the cooking time of potatoes and beets. The Fagor has two settings and on the highest setting, my ribs have come out tender and moist every time. If you’re going to invest one, spend the money for something good, you will not regret it. I’ll be honest, they sent me one of these to check out and test at home and I’m a convert, this thing rocks.

1 Rack St Louis Style Ribs
1 c Wood Chips (hickory preferred)
1.5 lbs Fresh Tomatoes
3/4 lb White Onion
1/4 c Tequila
1/4 c Red Wine Vinegar
1 12oz Can of Beer (use something that doesn’t suck)
1 tbl Paprika
2 Chipotle Chilies
2 tbl of the Chipotle Adobo Sauce
1 tbl Cumin
1 tsp Salt
1 Jalepeno
1 Serano Chili
2 tbl Brown Sugar

The Ritual: (Procedure) Ribs have a thick membrane on the back that you want to remove because it will never really cook off and will make your ribs tough. To remove, take a fork and run it along one of the rib bones on the back. You’ll see that this layer of skin like membrane will tear a little, you want to pry free enough of it to get your fingers under and then pull all of it off the back of the ribs. Then cut the ribs into segments of 3 or 4.

We’re going to start by smoking the ribs for a while to get some of that old school BBQ flavor that ribs so desperately need. There’s two ways to do this inside. The way I prefer is with a large pot, some tin foil and a veggie steamer basket (see inset picture). Line your pot with foil, put the wood chips on the foil then place the veggie steamer in the pot and put the ribs on that. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium high. The heat will start the wood chips smoking, let the ribs smoke like this, covered for a half hour. This makes a bit of a mess out of your pot and veggie steamer. They’re going to require some scrubbing with steel wool when you’re done.

The other smoking method is to use a bamboo steamer and a wok. Line the wok with foil, add the wood chips, put the bamboos steamer on top and then fill in the space between the wok and bamboo steamer with a damp kitchen rag. Turn to medium high heat an smoke for a half hour. I don’t like this method as much because you have to constantly check the rag and make sure that its always damp or it will start to burn. In addition, I burnt the hell out of one of my bamboo steamer doing this, so I highly recommend the veggie steamer method.

While those are smoking, give the tomatoes and onions a rough chop (they’re going to fall apart in the cooking so it doesn’t matter if they aren’t uniform or pretty), seed and rib the serano and jalepeno, combine with all of the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT the brown sugar) in the pressure cooker and when you have about 5 minutes left on the smoking set the pressure cooker over heat over high heat.

When the ribs are done, put them in the pressure cooker, standing us upright as possible with some of the veggies and liquid in between each set. Cover and seal the pressure cooker, setting it to the highest pressure setting (usually 15 psi). Leave on high heat until it reaches pressure, you’ll know its there when you get a steady stream of steam from the escape valve, start your half hour timer now. Once its at pressure, lower the heat to medium and adjust if needed to keep the pressure constant.

I’m assuming you know how to de-pressureize your pressure cooker and that you can open it without hurting yourself. If this is not the case, please check your cookers instructions. I don’t want to read about you in this year’s installment of the Darwin Awards.

Carefully remove the ribs from the cooker, I use tongs for this, try to keep the meat on the bones. It looks much better for presentation. Heat a grill pan over high heat and sear the ribs on it.

Add the brown sugar to the vegetables and broth from the pressure cooker. Then transfer that into a blender or food processor, you’ll have to do this in batches. Because the mixture is hot, you’ll need to vent your blender or food processor and cover with a rag so the machine doesn’t explode and make a mess. blend or process for about a minute per batch.

Once your grill pan is hot, sear the ribs for a few minutes per side this will give them that awesome crust we like. Serve with the sauce and you’re good to go.


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