Beer-Braised Baby Back Ribs with Orange-Tamarind Sauce

Photo: Jody Horton

"I started making my Abilene sauce 20 years ago, and every year I tweak it or add something," says Olivia chef James Holmes of his signature barbecue sauce. Despite its spicy intensity, the pork and beer flavors come straight through.

Yield: 8
Recipe from Food & Wine

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Recipe Time

Active: 1 Hour
Total: 2 Hours


  • 6 bottles lager
  • 3 (3 1/2 pounds) racks baby back ribs, each rack cut in half
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped sauce
  • 1/4 cup rendered bacon fat
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup sambal oelek , or other Asian chile sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup tamarind concentrate, see Note
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing


  1. In a large pot, combine the lager, baby back ribs, carrots, celery and onion and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, turning the ribs a few times, until the ribs are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the ribs to a work surface and let cool. Cut in between the ribs at 2-rib intervals.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the bacon fat. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes longer. Whisk in the orange juice, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, coffee, sambal oelek, molasses, tamarind concentrate, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, puree the sauce in a food processor.
  3. Light a grill. Brush the ribs with oil. Grill over moderate heat, turning, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Brush the ribs with the sauce and grill, turning and brushing with more sauce, until richly glazed and browned, about 2 minutes longer. Serve the ribs with extra sauce for dipping.
Note: Tamarind concentrate is available at Asian markets and at specialty food stores.
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