Sunday, July 20, 2014

Competition Baby Back Ribs with Apple-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce for a Summer BBQ Party #SundaySupper

Competition Baby Back Ribs with Apple-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce for a Summer BBQ Party #SundaySupper

Hello from Orlando!

I am publishing this dish while I am away at the Food and Wine Conference that I previewed back in May. Since I wrote about it, I have been assigned to promote the Idaho Potato Commission. This past Friday, Coryanne Etienne reported live from the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck interviewing bloggers who shared their favorite potato recipes. Search for the #IdahoPotatoCam hashtag for a recap if you missed it. I'll provide a more comprehensive review when I return.

Speaking of when I return from the conference, this upcoming Saturday is the annual competition, Rib Fest in the Park. Two years ago, I won the competition as a rookie. Last year, thinking if it ain't broke, don't fix it I competed again using the same recipe but lost. The feedback I received from the judges was the sauce was too sweet and they were looking for a little heat to balance out the flavor, so I went back to the drawing board. I kept it simple, pairing apples with pork is classic so there's nothing outrageous from a flavor profile standpoint. In fact, one of my favorite dishes I've already prepared uses it.

Since this is a #SundaySupper event hosted by Jennie of The Messy Baker and Melanie of Melanie Makes (thanks, ladies!), I should point out that there is a difference between barbecue dishes and grilled dishes. The two terms are sometimes inaccurately used interchangeably. As this Yahoo! Shine article explains, both methods use an open flame however barbecue is typically smoked, using low heat, cooking meats over several hours while grilling uses high heat and cooking meats only minutes. It is for this reason that I must confess. I cheat. I do not have an outdoor grill or a smoker but I have found a work around in the smoker bag.

The Challenge

Win the 2014 Rib Fest in the Park

The Source

I adapted the instructions of the smoker bag to a Curtis Stone barbecue sauce.


2 racks pork back ribs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
2 to 4 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped (to taste)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
Juice from 1 lemon


1. Smoke the ribs. Place an oven rack on the very bottom level and preheat the oven according to the smoker bag's instructions. Pat each rack of ribs dry on both sides with a paper towel, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place each rack into the smoker bag, meat side up, and fold to close. Place the smoker bag on a sheet pan, then place in the oven and cook according to the smoker bag's instructions. (The ones I purchase use 500⁰ Fahrenheit for the first 15 minutes, then the heat is lowered to 375⁰ Fahrenheit for an additional 60 minutes.)

2. Prepare the barbecue sauce. While the ribs smoke, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Once melted, ad the onions and sweat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the onions and cook until fragrant, an additional 3 minutes. Add the paprika, dry mustard, then the bourbon and apple cider vinegar and simmer for approximately 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens, 45 minutes to 1 hour. According to Chef Stone, this can be done up to 2 weeks ahead of cooking the ribs. If doing ahead of time, reheat before using.

3. Finish the ribs. Remove the ribs from the oven and let them stand for 10 minutes. Adjust the heat to 425⁰ Fahrenheit. Remove the ribs from the smoker bag and place back on the sheet pan. Baste the ribs with the sauce and place the ribs back in the oven until the sauce sticks to the ribs, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Rest the ribs for 5 minutes before cutting the ribs crosswise into individual portions and serve with any leftover sauce.

NOTE: The ribs can be prepared entirely on the grill using direct and indirect heat to regulate temperature control. On the day of the competition, I will most likely prepare steps 1 and 2 at home but complete step 3 on site.


I guess you could say this was a dry run for the competition this upcoming Saturday. In this instance, prepared the barbecue sauce a day ahead of smoking ribs. I also only smoked just the one rack (as the pictures above suggest) because it was just me, Mrs. Stuntman and my daughter eating so I halved the ingredients and only used one chile. The spice was overpowering when I went to taste it the next day so I added in the rest of the brown sugar to balance out the flavors. Unfortunately, I don't know if I won this competition because I am writing this before it occurs but I will update once the results are in. Also, please note that I will have limited ability to moderate comments since I am away. Realistically, I'll be able to get to everyone sometime on Tuesday.

Please check the other dishes brought to this Summer BBQ Party:

Sides and Accompaniments
Main Dishes
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


  1. These sure do look like winning ribs. I hope you're having a good time in Orlando.

  2. Sounds good, I can't wait to hear whether you won or not! I would also love it if you would swing by my recipe link party The Yuck Stops Here on Tuesday after you get home and get settled if you have a chance. It begins Tuesday evening at 8pm and can be found on my blog, Hot Momma's Kitchen Chaos! I hope you had fun at the conference! HUGS

  3. Oh boy, oh boy! These ribs look amazing!

  4. Recipe sounds so good. Congratulations on winning that contest as a rookie. I hope you had a good time in Florida.

  5. Good luck for your 2014 competition - the recipe sounds delicious!

  6. WHOA. That sounds insanely good!

  7. I love the addition of the apples, DB! I hope you had a great time at the conference!

  8. Another winner! I'd be proud to serve these at a Summer BBQ. Thanks so much!

  9. GOOD LUCK! I really hope this makes the cut, because the flavors and the amount of energy you've put into developing this recipe sound really impressive. Fingers crossed for ya!

  10. Good luck in the competition! Your rib recipe sounds like a winner to me!! SO wonderful to meet you in person!

  11. These are definitely award winning ribs!!! I can almost taste them through the screen (I wish)! Hope you had a blast at the conference. I hope to attend one year soon...*crossing fingers*
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

  12. Your rib recipe is a winner in my book DB! Your ribs sound amazing! Good luck in the competition!

  13. Nothing like a good rack of ribs on the barbee!!! Yours look scrumptious!!

  14. It has been so long since I smoked meat. Hubby wants to build a smoker one of these days but life seems to always get in the way so the idea that I can achieve this result using a smoker bag in the oven is really exciting. Need to keep my eyes out for one.

  15. Congratulations on winning ...This is so beautiful and I’m sure it’s all great! Looks pretty

  16. Congrats! I'm so glad to see ribs at our virtual BBQ. I'd dig in to a plate of these any day. :)

  17. I've never used a smoker bag but now I am curious! Congratulations on your win. :-)

  18. The sauce is boss and this looks really tasty!. Great meeting you and I look forward to staying connected! Peter

  19. Good luck with the competition tomorrow, DB! You are such an incredible cook (I can now attest to that after having eaten several plate-fuls of your competition winning tenderloin - seriously, I'm still thinking about how delicious it was!) that I'm sure you're gonna kick ass. These ribs and that sauce look incredible. I never knew there was a difference between BBQ and grilling but now it makes perfect sense! DB, I've said it many times already, but it was such a pleasure meeting you and your family at the Conference. I can't wait until we meet again!

  20. This recipe sounds like a winner either way! Those ribs sure do look delicious!


Feedback is always welcomed. If you're going to be critical, be constructive. In other words, be nice.