Man, this was a serious meal! Both the ribs and mac and cheese were so good I had to have seconds of both, and I was about to pop. I thought the ribs were damn near perfect, but the hubs thought they should go longer. They were not to the “fall off the bone” stage which he prefers (but I know many people don’t), but neither of us had any problems putting away most of the rack. We did our ribs on the smoker, but you could totally do them in a grill – just do them over indirect heat, and it will take about half the time as a smoker. As for the the cheese in the mac and cheese, I think you can vary it somewhat, but you want to be considerate of how well each cheese melts and make sure one cheese does not overwhelm the entire dish. I chose not to bake mine – I wanted it to be super creamy, not crunchy how it gets in the oven. I did not finish the mac and cheese with toasted bread crumbs on top because I did not have any, but that is really the only way to take your mac to the next level. Next time.
- 2 rack baby back pork ribs (ours weighed about 3.5 pounds)
- 2 quart plus 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons celery salt
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of each rack if it still on it.
Place ribs in a large non reactive roasting pan or in a clean plastic garbage bag and pour the 2 quarts of cider/juice over them. Let the ribs marinate in the fridge covered for at least 4 hours, or as long as overnight. Turn on occasion so they marinate evenly.
Make the rub. Mix the paprika, brown sugar, black pepper, chile powder, garlic powder, mustard, celery salt, coarse salt, and cayenne in a small bowl and stir up with your fingers to mix.
Drain ribs and pat dry. Sprinkle rub over ribs until nicely coated on both sides – about 1-2 tablespoons per rack. You’ll have rub left over. Rub the coating over the meat with your hands. Let cure in fridge covered for about 4 hours.
Set up your smoker or your grill with indirect heat. Use wood chunks if you have them, such as apple wood.
We cooked our ribs in the smoker for about 4.5 hours. For a grill with indirect heat, I would recommend 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When ribs are done, they will be browned and the meat will have shrunk back about 1/4 inch from the ends of the bones. For a grill, mop ribs with juice evey 30 minutes. For a smoker, mop ribs with juice once every hour.
Cut ribs into pieces and serve. Feel free to use some BBQ sauce, but we were happy with the ribs just as they were.
Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound noodles, penne, macaroni, or something short and tubular-ish
- 1/2 cup Fontina cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup Baby Swiss, grated
- 1/4 cup Blue Cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
Bring salted pot of water to boil. Add pasta, cook, and drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Return back to pot, adding all of the cheeses, the butter, and some salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add a 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and combine. Decide if the consistency looks good, or if more cooking water should be added. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary with additional salt and pepper, and serve.