Perfect barbecue spread

Confession: 2 weeks ago I put together an amazing barbecue feast and it’s taken me until now to share it.



It’s practically inexcusable because it really was the perfect summer spread. And I wanted to share all the recipes in time for all of you to enjoy over your Labor Day weekends – which I’m sure were fabulous.



The only excuse I have is that summer has made me lazy, so I hope you can forgive the delay. In fact, I hope you spent the weekend relaxing and that cooking was the farthest thing from your mind. (Eating, I’m sure, was not – I was in Hudson, NY where I ate everything, details to come.)


So even though this past weekend marks the melancholy, unofficial end of summer I’m going to share these recipes anyway. Because as long as the weather stays glorious (which at least where I am, it seems like it will) you’re still allowed to eat summer barbecue foods. Just like the law forbidding white jeans after Labor Day, the rules regarding summer food consumption deserve to be fuzzy.



So invite your friends over because I have a recipe for the easiest, most delicious, flavorful and juicy ribs, no grill required.

IMG_8746 (1)

Yes, you read that right. They’re actually Smitten Kitchen’s ribs (as most completely perfect foods are). You can make the rub the night before, then get up and prep the ribs by slathering them in rub, wrapping them up in foil and putting them in a barely hot oven. 6 hours later, magic will have happened and you’ll be digging into quite possibly the best ribs you’ve ever eaten.


Serve them with Smitten Kitchen’s potato salad and broccoli slaw, because one Deb masterpiece deserves to be enjoyed with another. You should also pull out your crockpot and make my best friend’s mother’s baked beans, recipe below, because they’re amazing and we’ve never had a barbecue without them.


If you have room for dessert, make sure you try Deb’s blueberry boy bait – great name, even better cake. Or her key lime pie popsicles! They taste exactly like the tart pie we all love, but frozen on a stick.IMG_8802


So while I apologize that it’s taken me till September to share these recipes, I think you’ll forgive me once you realize they’re really the perfect late-summer-early-fall barbecue spread.


Oven ribs
(From Smitten Kitchen)

Background: There’s a lot of intel on the internet around the ribs/person ratio. Some say 1 pound per person, some say 4-5 ribs per person. I think the latter sounds right, but ended up getting a pack of 3 racks of ribs at Costco for $30. This served 8 people with leftovers. The below recipe makes enough spice rub for 2 racks of ribs, applied generously, so you’ll  need to adjust the measurements if you’re making more than 2 racks.



As far as the baking setup goes, you’re going to put the ribs in the oven wrapped in tin foil, but juices will still leak out. To preserve your oven and collect any juices, place the foil-wrapped ribs on a cookie cooling rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet. I double-wrapped my ribs and only had a little leakage.


I was able to fit two racks of ribs on each sheet and put both sheets in at the same time, one on the top rack of the oven and one on the bottom and switched them halfway through.

Finally, you’ll make a sauce with the accumulated juices and some apple cider vinegar – it’s very salty but extremely good so don’t skip this step!

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt (according to Deb it should be Diamond brand; if using other brands only use 1 1/4 tablespoons)
Cayenne to taste
Generous amount of black pepper
2 racks spare ribs (if making more ribs, increase the measurements for the rub proportionally)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Heavy-duty tin foil
1 cooling rack and 1 large rimmed baking sheet per 2 racks of ribs

Heat oven to 200°F.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the spices and seasonings.

Spread out a piece of foil large enough to wrap around the ribs. Place one rack of ribs on the foil, meatier side up, and sprinkle generously with rub, including the sides. Then, carefully flip the rack and apply rub on the other side. Wrap it tightly in foil. If you’d like, wrap in an additional layer of foil, then place the rack of ribs on a cooling sheet set onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining ribs.

Bake for 4 hours, then reduce the temperature to 175°F for 2 more hours, or until a fork easily penetrates the meat.

Open packet of ribs very carefully – it’s best to do this with one end hanging over the sink. Tilt it down, unwrap the lower end, and collect the accumulated juices into a sauce pan.

Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a full boil, reducing the mixture until it becomes thicker, syrupy and will coat a spoon — it will probably need to reduce by at least half. Stir in vinegar and serve sauce alongside meat.

Meanwhile, cut the ribs apart and spread them on a serving tray.

Best baked beans

1/2 pound bacon
4 large onions, sliced into rings
3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 can lima beans*
1  can white beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cans baked beans (such as Bush’s)
1/2 bottle of ketchup

If using oven, preheat to 350°.

Cook the bacon part of the way. Remove, then add onions to pan and cook in bacon fat for 10 minutes. Add sugar, mustard, garlic powder and vinegar to onions. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes until caramelized, stirring occasionally and watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn.

Drain and rinse all beans except baked beans – you’ll use the sauce they come in. Add onion mixture and all beans to crockpot, or 3 quart casserole dish. Add ketchup and stir to combine. Cut bacon slices into thirds and stir in half. Top mixture with remaining bacon.

If using crockpot, cook on low for 4 hours. If cooking in oven, bake at 350° for one hour, uncovered.

Oven ribs, even better:
Roseanne cash’s potato salad:
Broccoli slaw:
Blueberry boy bait:
Key lime pie popsicles:


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