Margarita Glazed Baby Back Ribs

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I grew up in Texas (duh), and this past Memorial Day weekend served as a learning experience about growing up in Texas, which was the realization that I have *never* had pork ribs that weren’t smoked. Where I’m from, pork ribs equals barbecue, which equals smoked. Ribs on the grill use wood chips, and even oven baked barbecue ribs have liquid smoke in the ingredient list.

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These ribs are not smoked in any way. Grilled, yes. Smoked, no. So upon taking my first bite, I was so accustomed to that smoky flavor I automatically associate with pork ribs, that my knee jerk reaction was along the lines of “Oh god, what’s wrong with them?! Oh no, I screwed them up!” And then I took a second bite and realized that, no, they are actually quite tasty, and smoking ribs with a more delicate flavor profile such as this might be a bit weird.

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And then when I realized that these non-smoked ribs were quite the new phenomenon for me, I actually felt a tad silly, but then shrugged and kept eating them, due to the supreme deliciousness and all. It was a lovely switch-up from the regular barbecue types of pork ribs I’m more used to. And of course, you simply must serve these with margaritas. Is that even a choice? Enjoy!

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Some margarita drink ideas: Beer Margaritas; Mesa Grill Margaritas; Apple Cider Margaritas; Blood Orange Margaritas; Frozen Cactus Pear Margaritas; and for dessert – Chocolate Margaritas!
You might also enjoy: Margarita Fish Tacos; Margarita Meringue Pie; Maple Glazed Baby Back Ribs; Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs

{One Year Ago: Cherry Almond Galette}

Source: Slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, August/September 2011


Juice from 1 medium orange
2 tsp lime zest
Juice from 2 medium limes
¼ cup silver tequila
3 tbs dark agave syrup or honey
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs orange liqueur
2 tbs soy sauce
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs ancho chile powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 or 2 racks pork baby back ribs (about 1 ½ lbs. each) silver skin membrane removed *

½ cup silver tequila
½ cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)
2 tbs dark agave syrup or honey
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

*This makes enough marinade and glaze for 2 racks of ribs. I used only 1 rack (small apartment sized grill) and then tossed 1 lb. of shrimp with the remainder. I also used half the glaze on the shrimp. You could also cut the marinade and glaze in half for 1 rack of ribs.

First, marinate the ribs. In a medium bowl, whisk the orange juice, lime zest, lime juice, tequila, agave, oil, orange liqueur, soy sauce, garlic, chile powder, cumin, 1 tbs salt and 1 tsp black pepper. Cut each rack of ribs in half and place in a large resealable plastic baggie. Pour the marinade over the ribs (or only half the marinade if using only 1 rack) and seal tightly. Shake the bag to make sure all the ribs are coated. Lay the bag in a baking pan in case of leaks. Refrigerate overnight, turning a few times to redistribute the marinade.
Next, grill the ribs. Preheat your charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking over low to medium-low heat. Remove the ribs from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and set aside.*
Arrange the ribs bone side down over indirect heat. Cover the grill and let them go for around 1 ½ to 2 hours. They are ready when the meat is tender and the meat is starting to pull away from the bones, about ¼-inch.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Add the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and agave to the reserved marinade. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer until it is starting to turn syrupy, about 20 to 25 minutes. If you are not using the reserved marinade, simply add the glaze ingredients, except the cilantro, to a small saucepan and simmer until it looks a little bit syrupy and appropriate texture for glazing meat. This will not take as long, so be watchful.
When the glaze is the correct consistency, shut off the heat and add salt and black pepper to taste, if necessary.
Once the glaze is made, finish the ribs. Increase the grill heat to medium high and generously brush the meat side of each rack with the glaze. Use tongs to turn the ribs over so that the glazed side is down over the direct heat part, 3-5 minutes. Brush the bone side with some glaze, flip, and grill 3-5 minutes more. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest about 10 minutes.
Add the cilantro to the remaining glaze and pour into a small bowl or ramekin for passing at the table. Slice the ribs (I recommend a serrated knife – ironically it gets the cleanest, easiest cuts), and let everyone dive in, using the remaining glaze as a sauce.

*If you are hesitant to do this, I understand, and I wouldn’t advise this for pregnant women. You can make the glaze without the leftover marinade and it should still taste fine.

5 responses to “Margarita Glazed Baby Back Ribs

  1. I also grew up in Texas and I am right there with you! I can’t wait to try these glazed ribs. They look delicious!

  2. Oh my this looks mouthwatering! I never make ribs although I love them! I am thinking it’s time I give them a try!

  3. Pingback: Blueberry Barbecue Chicken | The Texan New Yorker

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