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Savoring Backyard Grilling: Enhancing Delicious BBQ Ribs with Vanilla

Posted Jun 23 2009 5:41pm
One sure sign of summer is the tantalizing smell of barbequed food wafting through the neighborhood. Backyard grilling is a quintessential American tradition. In fact, 75 percent of American households own a barbeque grill, according to the Health, Patio, & Barbecue Association.

Today, we grill nearly any food from pizza and vegetables to seafood and fruit. Yet, the classic summertime favorite remains seductively succulent barbecued ribs. However, a plate of ribs can go from delicious to disastrous if you do not know what you are doing. Here are some simple steps to follow to ensure your ribs are finger-licking good every time:

The first step to successful rib grilling is selecting the type of rib that best suits your tastes and budget. There are several types of pork ribs available at local grocers or specialty meat shops. Popular cuts are spare ribs, St. Louis cut ribs, baby back ribs and country-style ribs.

· Spare ribs have more bone than meat, but offer excellent flavor and are a little less expensive than baby back ribs. One slab of spare ribs is usually enough for two people.

· St. Louis ribs (often called barbecue cut or Kansas City cut) are spare ribs with the rib tips removed. These have more meat in-between the bones than baby back ribs and some prefer the taste of them over other cuts. A 3-3.5 pound slab will serve two people.

· Baby back ribs are shorter than spare ribs and less fatty. A single serving is usually a half-slab, or whole slab for a healthy appetite.

· Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin. The meatiest variety of ribs, country-style ribs are sold either as slabs or in individual servings. These pork ribs are perfect for those who want to use a knife and fork.

To prepare ribs, experts recommend first trimming the silvery membrane, called the peritoneum, on the back of the ribs. (If the peritoneum remains on, it will become hard and parchment-like when grilled.) Spices and seasoning rubs should be applied to both sides of the ribs prior to cooking, allowing the seasonings to permeate the meat on both sides. Near the end of the grilling process, apply sauces by liberally basting meat over a low heat. Ribs will turn a nice crispy brown as the sauce caramelizes, making it succulent and melt-in-your-mouth good.

The key to the tastiest barbecued ribs is low, slow, moist heat and a great sauce,” says Matt Nielsen, chief operating officer of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. “ By using vanilla in the Apricot Mango BBQ rib sauce -- the rich, creamy, mellow flavor of vanilla enhances the sauce by adding a touch of sweetness and cutting the acidity of a potentially tangy sauce.


BBQ Sides, Dessert and Drinks

The perfect combination of sides to accompany BBQ ribs can include fresh and easy dishes. Crisp, green salads topped with seasonal garden vegetables and a quick vanilla-infused vinaigrette. Add a teaspoon of Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract to mellow out slow-cooked famous baked beans. Sprinkle chunked sweet potatoes with a little vanilla sugar, grilling spices and a touch of butter, wrap them up in foil packets and throw them on the grill. Easy clean-up is a grilling season bonus!

For dessert, make fresh fruit cobblers or parfaits with seasonal fruits such as strawberries, peaches or blueberries. The delicate flavor of Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract is best for enhancing fruit flavors with its fruit, anisic notes. And, don’t forget something cool and refreshing to sip while lounging outside. Adding a splash of vanilla gives a little extra oomph to your favorite warm-weather cocktails – from pina coladas to daiquiris to mojitos to cream-based martinis. Backyard grilling and entertaining can be made simple and scrumptious by using products that add dimension and outstanding flavor to your grilled creations.


Apricot Mango BBQ Ribs
Featured in Nielsen-Massey’s Century of Flavor Cookbook

Serves 2 to 4


Rib Seasoning:

11/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon organic garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 slabs baby back ribs



Apricot Mango BBQ Sauce:

1/2 cup medium diced canned apricots, drained

1/2 cup medium diced fresh or jarred mangoes, drained

1 (4-ounce) can mild chipotle chiles

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 whole garlic cloves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)


For the rib seasoning, combine the chili powder, salt, garlic powder, cumin, thyme and olive oil in a bowl and mix well to make a paste. Rub evenly over the ribs. Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to overnight. For the sauce, combine the apricots, mangoes, chipotle chiles, brown sugar, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, vanilla extract, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper in a blender container and purée. Store in the refrigerator.

To bake the ribs, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Unwrap the ribs and place on a rimmed baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 11/2 hours. Brush the sauce generously over the ribs. Bake for an additional 45 minutes or until the sauce caramelizes. To grill the ribs, unwrap the ribs and place on a grill rack. Grill over indirect low heat for 11/2 hours. Brush the sauce generously over the ribs. Grill for an additional 1/2 hour. Place the ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover with foil and let stand for 20 minutes. Successful grilling or baking of ribs occurs when ribs cook slowly over low temperatures.

Liz Here: The good folks at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas were kind enough to send me a bottle of both their world-famous vanilla. The Vanilla is heavenly - all of the rich vanilla fragrance and flavor that you expect... with just a little more "oomph" than your ordinary grocery store vanilla! The quality is excellent - I will be sure to choose Nielsen-Massey Vanillas the next time I need to make a flavoring purchase. Although the thought of vanilla in your BBQ ribs sounds a little weird, trust me - we tried this recipe and it's marvelous!
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