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Finger-licking grilled goodness: try these chipotle-glazed baby back ribs on the barbecue

A simple spice rub drives in more flavor to the meat, which gets a final baste and garnish with a smoky chipotle-laced barbecue sauce.

There are so many reasons to celebrate right now. Summer is almost here, more of us are vaccinated, and we can all get outside and carefully socialize. Let this Memorial Day be the official kickoff of summer and the barbecue season.

These chipotle-glazed baby backribs are finger-licking good with sweet and smoky flavor. A simple spice rub drives in more flavor to the meat, which gets a final baste and garnish with a smoky chipotle-laced barbecue sauce.

You can simply rub the ribs before grilling and let them stand while you fire up your grill. But better yet, if you have the time, rub them the night before and refrigerate, uncovered, until 30 minutes before grilling. This extra time will deeply season and slightly cure the meat, ensuring a crispy, flavorful exterior.

Slow grilling is the name of the game when it comes to ribs. The hours spent cooking allow the meat to soften and tenderize, resulting in pull-apart goodness.

Pour yourself a drink, pull up a garden chair and relax. It’s almost summer.

Chipotle-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS:

3 racks baby back pork ribs, each about 2 pounds

Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/3 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced with juices
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl. Rub the ribs on all sides. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the grill. (The ribs can be rubbed up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated, uncovered. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.)

2. Make the sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add all of the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Cool to room temperature.

3. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over low heat (250 to 275 degrees).

4. Cook the ribs, bone side down, over indirect heat until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. When the ribs are nearly done, lightly brush with some of the sauce.

5. Remove the ribs from the grill and cut between the bones (I prefer to cut two-bone pieces for serving). Lightly brush with the sauce and serve with the remaining sauce.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.