Today I have a series of photos for you in the style of Betty Crocker, circa 1965 (at least I think that’s what they look like. Sunsets at 4:30 kind of interfere with natural light). The recipe isn’t circa 1965, though. With its chipotle barbecue sauce, it’s more of a 2003 kind of thing.

I decided today that Carlo should come home from work to a nice meal today, the kind of meal that he loves. Luckily its a new job and he’s on good behavior and won’t be online, so I can tell you without ruining the treat for him.This is a recipe we’ve had before, an introduction from our best food friends who made it for us back when we lived in Montreal (hi B + G!).

While I love pork and I love ribs, this is definitely a Carlo recipe. The ribs, first marinated in a dry rub, cook slowly at low heat until they’re tender, glistening in fat, and then they’re wrapped in a tomato-chipotle dress and put back into the oven until the sauce has sunk in. I like fat as much as anyone, but not as much as Carlo. It’s impossible to love it as much as Carlo does.

I’m roasting a couple sweet potatoes and some brussels sprouts to go on the side, and I think those two will help me feel that this meal is virtuous.

Carlo’s going to sit down to this meal and when he takes a bite, his forehead will furrow at a small point between his eyebrows, and his eyes will almost-but-not-quite close, and he’ll be very quiet for a second, and then his face will clear and he’ll look up from his ribs and say “wow.” And that will be the sign that I look for, that combination of actions meaning that he’s happy and completely content. And that’s why I’m making ribs.

Baked Pork Ribs with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Bonnie Stern

4 strips of back ribs (I used about 2 lbs, but more would be better), shiny membrane on backside removed

Dry Rub:
2 Tbsp. smoked paprika (regular is fine too, but smoked adds some heat and interest)
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dry mustard

Barbecue Sauce:
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2-3 chipotle peppers
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Combine spice rub ingredients in a small bowl and rub them into ribs. Put the ribs into a shallow dish, cover, and set aside to marinate at room temperature for an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a baking sheet/pan with foil. Place marinated ribs in a single layer on pan, cover with more foil, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

While ribs are cooking, assemble your barbecue sauce by placing all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pureeing.

When 1 1/2 hours is up, remove ribs from oven, pour off the fat that has collected at the bottom of the pan, and then pour barbecue sauce over them, turning them over in the baking pan to ensure that they’re well-coated. Be generous with your sauce! Turn up the heat to 400 F and put ribs back in oven, uncovered, cooking for another 1/2 hour.

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