`The Cs' ribs make letter-perfect meal

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September 16, 2006|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Tribune Media Services

My thirtysomething son called the other day -- not, as usual, to give me an update on the latest accomplishments of his young children, but rather to tell me about some delicious ribs he and his wife had sampled. A talented cook, he had tasted some outstanding spareribs at a recent party, and tried unsuccessfully to figure out the flavorings. Finally, he had asked the host, Regina Moyer, how the scrumptious pork was prepared.

"I call them the Cs," she said, explaining that many of the ingredients used in the recipe begin with the letter "C." Cumin, coriander, cinnamon, curry powder, coffee and cocoa powder are combined with paprika and peppercorns, then blended with olive oil to season the ribs. For the sauce, sauteed onions are paired with chili powder and more cumin, cinnamon, coffee and cocoa, then mixed with ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar plus some Worcestershire sauce.

Once brushed with the vibrant seasonings, the ribs are wrapped tightly in foil, then baked a couple of hours, unattended, in the oven. The ribs can be cooked a few hours ahead, and the sauce, which takes only about 15 minutes to assemble, prepared two days in advance. At serving time, coat the ribs with sauce and grill them.

My spouse and I loved this new variation on an old favorite. The cooked pork was so tender it fell off the bones, and the taste was perfectly balanced with spicy, slightly sweet and tart notes. I'm planning to serve "the Cs" ribs soon at a fall backyard supper with coleslaw and garlic green beans. I am counting on a half a rack per person, but my husband is hinting that he could eat a whole strip!

Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.

"The Cs" Barbecued Ribs

Serves 4 with 1/2 rack each


2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

2 1/2 cups chopped onions

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tablespoon ground coffee

2/3 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup cider vinegar

1 cup ketchup


2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons curry powder (See note)

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons coffee beans

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 racks baby back ribs, each about 1 1/2 pounds (3 pounds total)

sea salt or fleur de sel

2 tablespoons cider vinegar, optional

For sauce, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add onions and cook, stirring until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, and stir and cook 5 minutes. Sauce will be very thick. (Sauce can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over low heat.)

For ribs, arrange an oven rack at center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have ready a large baking sheet lined with foil.

Combine the cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, cocoa powder and paprika in a small bowl and set aside. Place a small skillet over low heat and when hot, add the coriander seeds, coffee beans and peppercorns. Stir and cook 1 minute to lightly roast, then add the spices from the bowl, and stir and cook 1 minute more. Watch carefully so that spices do not burn. Grind this mixture in a spice or coffee grinder, then transfer it to a bowl and whisk in the olive oil.

Cut each strip of ribs in half so that you have 4 strips. Brush each strip on both sides with some of the spice mixture, then wrap each strip tightly in foil and place on the baking sheet. Roast ribs 2 hours, then remove from the oven, and carefully open packets. (The ribs can be prepared ahead. Leave at cool room temperature uncovered for up to 2 hours.)

To finish ribs, oil a grill rack and arrange it 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a medium hot fire. Brush each strip on both sides with some of the barbecue sauce. (You will not need to use all of the sauce to brush the ribs.) When grill is ready, cook ribs until just lightly charred, about 5 minutes per side. (Watch carefully as cooking time can vary depending on the type of grill used.)

Arrange the ribs on a serving tray. Sprinkle with salt, and if desired, drizzle with cider vinegar. Pass extra sauce separately.

Note: If you use hot or extra spicy curry powder, you might want to reduce the amount to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Per serving: 694 calories, 44 grams protein, 36 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 53 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 129 milligrams cholesterol, 793 milligrams sodium

Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.

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