Barbecue-Fried Baby Backs

Serving Size: 4

One day I was eating a rib-my favorite kind of rib, the baby back-and I was thinking, this is good, but wouldn't it be better if it was also a little crunchy? Rather than having you smoke racks of ribs and then fry them, which would  take you damn near forever, I'm going to have you braise these ribs in the oven until they're moist and tender, which is far less laborious, and then you can save your energy for the last­ minute frying. Warning: These ribs are so addictive, with their softly braised insides and crispy-salty crusts, that you may give up the smoked kind altogether.

Baby Back Ribs

  • 4 cup Only Sauce*
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • 3 Tbsp Only Rub**
  • 3 racks of baby back ribs, about 2 1/2 pounds
  • peanut oil for frying
  • 0.5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 0.5 cup cornstarch
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large, heavy roasting pan, combine 2 cups of Only Sauce, ginger ale, and 2 tablespoons of the rub and stir together to combine. Set the pan over 2 burners and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the baby back ribs to the roasting pan, cover tightly with foil, transfer to the oven, and bake for about 2 hours, until the ribs are very tender when touched with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven, discard the liquid, and let the ribs cool to room temperature. Spread the ribs out in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate until they are chilled and  firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 cups of Only Sauce in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes to thoroughly warm through, stirring occasionally­. Transfer the warm sauce to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large, sturdy pot, heat 1½ inches of peanut oil over medium heat to 375ºF.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch and the remaining 1 tablespoon rub and pour the mixture into a large zip-top bag. Cut the racks into individual ribs. Toss the ribs a few at a time into the bag with the flour and coat them, shaking off the excess as you remove them. Working in batches, fry the ribs until the coating is lightly golden and crisp, about 2 minutes per rib.
  6. Transfer the ribs to paper towels to drain briefly, then dredge them through the sauce in the bowl, tossing to coat. Pile the ribs on a platter and serve immediately.

Only Sauce*

  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 0.25 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 0.67 cup cider vinegar
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse a couple of times to thoroughly combine. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir continuously until the sauce is heated through, but do not allow it to come to a boil. Remove the pan from the  heat. Use the sauce immediately as you like, or, if reserving for a later use, allow  the mixture to cool, then pour it into a large bottle or container and store, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 year.

Only Rub**

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ground pepper
  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir thoroughly to combine. You can store this rub in an airtight container for up to 1 year.