Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

4th of July: Oven-Smoked Ribs and Smoky Wine

 No Grill, No Problem

4th of July is right around the corner and it’s the height of barbecue season. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to a grill or smoker, with these easy techniques you can get the same flavor as ribs that have been smoked twice as long!

Cooking the ribs inside will give you more room on the grill for burgers and dogs. Everybody wins!

Follow these simple steps to having a successful barbecue regardless of silly little details like weather or access to a grill.

First things first make your rub. I like to use a brown sugar based rub that has a smoky kick to it. Most of these ingredients are probably already in your pantry, if not they can all be found in any supermarket.

Pork Rib Dry Rub
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dry mustard
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (you can use less if you want less heat)
2 teaspoons salt
Using whisk or fork, mix everything together in a large bowl and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

*If stored properly the rub will keep for up to a month.

Making the smoker

Channel your inner MacGyver here and have some fun. I used the roasting pan and rack that is normally reserved for holiday turkeys, but you can use anything that fits in your oven. The main thing we are going for is a setup that will keep the meat from directly touching the chips and is perforated so the smoke can easily come through and flavor the items being smoked. The other very important tip is to get a nice tight seal on your foil to allow for full flavor penetration.
Turn your broiler on to high, turn on the exhaust fan if you have one
Line the bottom of a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Spread an even layer of the chips along the bottom of the pan
Place the pan under the broiler about 6 inches from the flame
Let the chips develop a nice char on them, but be careful not to ignite them
Carefully remove them from the oven and set aside, add 1 cup of water to the pan and give the chips a toss with your hands

Now the main event…..BABY BACK RIBS!

All the heavy lifting is over, now comes the fun (and easy) part.

  1. 2 racks of Baby back ribs, each weighing about 3 pounds each. trimmed of the sinew flap on the back (if you don’t know what this is ask your butcher to remove it) 
  2. Pork Rub 
  3. 1 bag of Hickory smoking wood chips 
  4. 1 bottle of Your favorite BBQ sauce, I prefer Stubb’s 
  1. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. 
  2. Rub a generous amount of the pork rub over both sides of the ribs, making sure to pat it down with your hands to make a “crust” (you can do this the night before if you really want the rub to penetrate the meat, just make sure to wrap them well in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge) 
  3. Set your roasting rack atop the wood chips and then place your rib- racks on top of that (if they overlap slightly that’s ok) 
  4. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil, making sure that no air will escape 
  5. Place the rack on your stovetop burner and crank it to a high flame 
  6. When you start to see a slight bit of smoke escaping, Carefully slip the ribs into the oven (the pan will be very hot so use the appropriate towels or oven mitts) 
  7. Cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes (yes that’s it) 
  8. Gently remove from the oven and carefully peel back your foil tent to let the steam and smoke escape 
  9. Using tongs, remove the ribs from the rack and set onto a baking sheet 
  10. Crank the broiler back to high 
  11. Slather the ribs with your favorite sauce 
  12. Put the sheet tray in the oven about 6 inches below the broiler 
  13. Broil the ribs until the sauce becomes bubbly and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes 

Rest 5 minutes, add another slathering of your favorite sauce and enjoy immediately

What to Drink

Where there’s smoke, there’s super-delicious wines; wines with notes of smokiness and earthiness, often found with Syrah-based wines. These pair very well with ‘cue, especially if the food is prepared with a dry rub. Given that pork is a lighter protein, however, means you don’t want a huge powerhouse of a bottle that will overwhelm the ribs. Plus, you still want to retain some good fruit notes in the wine to bring out the sweetness naturally found in the meat. In this case, let’s take a vacation to the south of France, specifically, the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

L-R wines are based on classic Rhone blends, dominated with Syrah and Grenache, creating fruit-forward wines rounded out with all that savory goodness of spice, earth, smoke and meat. However, the warm Mediterranean weather often results in a lighter-bodied vinification style suitable to the climate. Plus, the region grows a wide variety of native and international varietals, meaning you can find some real fun n' funky blends that go a bit rogue from the traditional Rhone grape combos.

One wine in particular springs to mind, the Chateau Pennautier Cabardes 2011 (approximately $13). This wine incorporates Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are the backbone of Bordeaux wines, with Syrah and Grenache. The result? A wine with deep berries, black cherry, black pepper, soil and smoke on the nose. Then, on the palate, a meaty, almost gamey note comes into play. It has a somewhat velvety texture (probably due to the Merlot) and well-integrated tannins, but there’s also an almost chewy quality that adds an element of intrigue to this medium-bodied red. It’s like BBQ in a glass.

Happy Fourth of July!