Baked Spareribs with Black Plum Barbecue Sauce
This beautiful rack of ribs was a happy accident - I don't mind admitting. I had purchased a cryovacked package of spareribs, and there was more in the package than I expected. What I thought was perhaps a single fat rack of ribs turned out to be three racks - of pretty fat racks of ribs. That's what I get for shopping at the warehouse store with five children in tow.
I also bought a package of black plums, which my kids normally scarf up like candy. But I had also purchased acres of other fruit, and within a couple of days I had a handful of black plums that needed to be used up.
In addition, I normally adore my grill beyond belief. But the day I opened the ribs and discovered my bonus two racks, I fired up the smoker and the grill for the other two, and had to have another cooking medium. I've always looked askance at ribs done in the oven, feeling as though it were somehow breaking faith with my smoking forebears. But I had no choice.
It's a good thing. These are out of this world. The fruits in the sauce bring a lovely liquid to the long slow braise in the oven, then slowly caramelize. The ribs turn out juicy, flavorful and tender. The sauce is lovely, sweet but not cloying, and does gorgeous things when grilled off. This one is certainly a keeper - I'll be bringing it back at my house very soon!
1 5 lb rack of pork spare ribs
4-5 black plums
1 15 oz can crushed pineapple
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup ketchup
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Place ribs in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Make sure the rack is completely submerged. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove the rack from pot, and place it on a baking rack or broiler pan.
Meanwhile, chop plums and add them, with the pineapple, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar and red pepper to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the sauce to a simmer, mashing the chunks with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Allow sauce to remain at a bare simmer for about half an hour, until thickened and reduced.
Preheat oven to 225F. Generously baste the ribs with the sauce. Place the broiler pan in the oven, and roast, uncovered, for approximately 3 hours.
Preheat grill to 350F. Transfer the ribs from the oven to the grill. The ribs will be tender and and the meat pulling away from the bone, so be careful not to pull the rack apart when transferring it. Place over a low fire or over the cool part of the grill for about 1/2 hour, or until the outside has caramelized.
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