No. 65 & 66: Baby Back Ribs & Boston Baked Beans

Soon we'll have to leave our little home. Sigh.

We knew it was coming. We just didn't want to believe it.

We spent the weekend prepping for a move, and next week we'll get serious and rent the U-Haul. But with all the prep, we did squeeze in some time for one last barbecue with this view.


Baby Backs

We love cooking ribs on a Sunday afternoon. It's a long, leisurely process but the end result is worth every second spent babysitting the fire.

This rub recipe was new for us, but the cooking method is our tried and true process.


1-2 baby back or St. Louis style ribs, silver skin removed
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper

*We doubled this rub recipe since we had three racks of ribs to cook up. Lunch for a week!

To make

Combine all spice ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Six to twenty-four hours before cooking ribs, remove from packaging and place on a large baking sheet. If butcher has not already, be sure to remove the silver skin.

Apply a thin layer of mustard to the ribs. This will give rub a surface to adhere to, and the mustard will leave no flavor. Apply rub to all areas of the ribs, patting firmly to make sure it adheres. Get all those nooks and crannies.

Wrap rubbed ribs in cling wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking.


(Mr. McCormick wrapping his ribs. We usually do this the night before so they have plenty of time to sit in the dry rub.)

Cook ribs on indirect heat in a smoker or grill. Start with charcoal and then add dry and soaked hickory (or cherry, mesquite or apple wood) throughout the cooking process. The goal is to maintain 225 degrees of heat consistently to the meat, as well as smoke. You can use a meat thermometer or your grill thermometer to ensure temperature.


After 2.5 hours

(After 2 1/2 hours of low, slow cookin.)

After 2 1/2 hours, wrap ribs in foil with a few ounces of dark beer poured on top.

Beer step

Loosely tent the foil at the top and place back on grill for another 30-45 minutes. Once done, remove ribs from grill and let rest in foil for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Boston Baked Beans

Pete, our buddy in town for the weekend, had a great idea. Instead of making a barbecue sauce, have your side do all the work ... just dip your ribs in the beans. Brilliant!

A quick search on Food52 found this recipe for Best Boston Baked Beans. To me, the best part is they take about the same amount of time as the ribs.


Serves 6-8
2 cups dried beans such as navy or pinto
4 strips bacon
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon spicy smoked paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 cups water, heated

To make

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Cut the bacon into small strips and saute in a Dutch oven until the strips are fairly crispy. Reserve the bacon and drain off all but about 2 tablespoons bacon fat.

Add the chopped onion and saute until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and brown sugar and saute for another couple of minutes.


Meanwhile, mix together the ketchup, mustard, molasses, and vinegar. Pour this mixture into the pot. Rinse the mixing cup with some of the hot water and add this and the remaining water to the pot. Add the rinsed beans and bacon bits, mix and heat the contents of the pot to a simmer. Then cover the pot and transfer to the oven.

Ready to cook

Cook the beans in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, but not falling apart. Add a little more water if they get too dry during the cooking process.

Raise the heat to 400 degrees, remove the top, add salt if needed, and cook for another half hour until the sauce becomes thick and caramelized.

The results

These ribs were really, really good. And they don't need sauce, there's plenty of flavor and moisture.


The rub has some slow burn to it, so watch out. After a couple ribs I was reaching for a spoonful of beans to cool it down.

I rushed the beans a bit, so they didn't have quite the full amount of cook time they needed. I would have loved a bit more carmelization time at the end.

Final beans

Still, they were a hearty, smokey side. They'd also be easy to do in a vegetarian style if you just add a bit more paprika for smokiness.

Two excellent additions to your next back yard cookout!

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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina