My strategy with ribs? Load on the flavor. First, these baby backs get a spice massage, which really gets things popping. Next I whip up a crazy-good sweet and tangy sauce while the pork's cooking and lay it on at the end, just before the ribs are done, so the heat makes it all bubbly and sticky. A charcoal grill will add even more tastiness, but I've added so much already that you're good even if you use a gas grill or your oven.
Recipe courtesy of Aaron Sanchez
Banging Baby's-Got-Back Ribs
Serves 6 (half a rack per person)
Serves 6 (half a rack per person)


  • 3 racks (about 5 pounds) baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup Aaron's Adobo, recipe follows
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium white or yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups Chile Colorado Sauce, recipe follows
  • One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Aaron's Adobo:
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds 
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds 
  • 2 pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and torn into small pieces 
  • 2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and torn into small pieces 
  • 1/2 cup dried whole oregano (preferably Mexican) 
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder 
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder 
  • 1/4 cup Spanish paprika (pimenton), preferably sweet or hot
Chile Colorado Sauce:
  • 3 medium Spanish or white onions, quartered
  • 8 medium fresh tomatillos, husked and washed
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 8 whole garlic cloves, peeled 
  • Olive oil, for drizzling 
  • 1 ancho chile (1/2 ounce), stemmed, seeded, and deveined
  • 2 guajillo chiles (1/2 ounce), stemmed, seeded, and deveined
  • 1 quart chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought is fine)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


At least 8 hours before you plan to cook, lay the ribs on a cutting board, curved bone side up. Using a sharp paring knife, slice into the tough white membrane covering the ribs. Carefully peel off and discard the membrane. Rub the ribs generously all over with the adobo. Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 8 hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate. 

Make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook them until softened and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the cayenne, Chile Colorado Sauce, tomatoes, molasses, vinegar, and orange zest and juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thick, about 45 minutes.

When you're ready to cook, preheat a gas grill to medium or an oven to 250 degrees F, or burn down charcoal to red embers covered with gray ash. Turn off one burner or push the coals to one side and put the ribs on the grill rack over indirect heat. Cover the grill and cook the ribs for 2 hours, adding more charcoal now and then as necessary to keep the heat even. For oven cooking, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay the ribs on it. Mop them thickly with the sauce, and cover with more foil. Roast for 2 to 3 hours, adding more sauce every 30 minutes, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. (Times will vary; check the meat every 30 minutes.) 

For grilling, after 2 hours, brush the ribs thickly with the sauce on both sides and flip them. Cover the grill and cook, brushing occasionally with sauce, until the ribs are tender, about 30 minutes more. 

Serve warm or at room temperature with any extra sauce for dipping.

Aaron's Adobo:

Heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in the cumin, coriander, fennel, and mustard seeds along with the pieces of pasilla and ancho chiles. Toast, stirring constantly,until it's very aromatic and just begins to smoke, about 3 minutes. 

Dump the mixture onto a plate and let it cool to room temperature. Grind it to a fine powder in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. 

Put the powder in a large bowl and add the oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Stir them really well to combine. 

Store the adobo in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in a cool, dark place for up to a month.

Chile Colorado Sauce:

Preheat the broiler. 

Put the onions, tomatillos, tomatoes, and garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. Put the baking sheet under the broiler and cook without turning until the vegetables start to get charred, about 7 minutes. Remove, set aside, and let cool to room temperature. 

In a large dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the guajillos, turning them over halfway through, just until they smell great, about 1 minute. Transfer them to a bowl, cover them with hot water, and let them soak until they're soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the chiles and discard the soaking water. 

Combine the vegetables and chiles in a blender with the chicken stock (you'll have to work in batches) and puree until the mixture is very smooth. Transfer each batch to a bowl as it's done, and stir the batches together well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. 

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