Tue Feb 12, 2013
What to do with hoisin barbecue sauce?
Hoisin ribs, of course!
I could think of nothing else more deserving to take the inaugural brushing of my hoisin sauce then some smokey St. Louis cut spare ribs. With a fair amount of thought going into the Asian influence of the sauce, I needed to appropriately match the rest of the rib to that flavor profile while keeping true to low-and-slow barbecue as well. The results spoke for themselves, but since I have yet to find a way to deliver barbecue through the tubes of the internet, here's how it all came together.
The sum of the whole with barbecue is the juxtaposition of meat to rub to sauce. Thinking along those lines, I put together a spice mixture that I thought would enhance and compliment the flavor of the sauce and also work well on pork. Like most pork rubs, this started with a fair amount of suger, brown sugar to be exact, to add a little molasses flavor into the mix. I then kept it simple, adding only salt, Chinese 5-spice powder, Szechuan peppercorns, white pepper, and garlic. The end rub was sweet and earthy, with the distinctly Asian flavor I was going for.
I coated a few racks of St. Louis cut spare ribs, wrapped them, and let them sit in the fridge overnight. There's a lot of debate on letting the ribs sit with the rub or not, but I really don't sweat it. I do like the pellicule that forms after the rubbed ribs sit for a while, and I think that does give slightly more attractive results, but in terms of flavor, freshly rubbed ribs seem about the same to me as the ones that got a rest.
Northing fancy went into the cooking here, I just stuck with for my standard 225 degrees with a couple chunks of cherry wood until the ribs had a slight bend to them when lifted from one side. This took about six hours total.
In the last half hour, I gave the racks a very liberal brushing with the hoisin sauce. I'm a light sauce guy, but I really wanted to pack that great hoisin flavor in, so I went in heavy and let it caramelize down while the ribs finished cooking.
They came out as beautiful as ever, but with a twist that's bound to surprise and delight. The sweet and salty hoisin went a long way in defining the overall rib, lending the primary Asian flavor. The rub was definitely present though, both enhancing the sweetness, while tempering it a little with the heat of the white pepper and earthy flavor of the Szechuan pepper. The five-spice powder is also worth noting, whose clove and cinnamon components stood out, even in a relatively small amount. Overall, it was a mighty fine rib and a great mash-up that took advantage of some of the best of two distinctly delicious cuisines.
Hoisin Barbecue Ribs
- Prep Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 5 Hours
- Total Time:
- 5 Hours 15 Minutes
- 4 servings
- For the rub
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice powder
- 2 teaspoons ground Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 2 racks St. Louis-cut pork ribs
- 2-3 fist size chunks of light smoking wood, such as cherry or apple
- 1 cup Hoisin barbecue sauce
- To make the rub, mix together brown sugar, salt, 5-spice powder, Szechuan peppercorns, white pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.
- Remove the membrane from the back of the rack, and trim the ribs of excess fat. Rub each rack liberally with the rub. Wrap ribs in foil or place in a large container and store in the refrigerator overnight (optional).
- Remove the ribs from the fridge while preparing the smoker or grill. Fire up smoker or grill to 225 degrees, adding chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place the ribs in the smoker or grill, meat side up, and smoke until the ribs have a slight bend when lifted from one end, 5 to 6 hours.
- In the last 1/2 hour of cooking, baste the top of each rack with barbecue sauce and continue smoking to caramelize sauce. Remove from smoker, slice, and serve.