Bonnie Stern’s Chipotle Baby Back Ribs Recipe

These ribs are hot and spicy, perfect for a casual backyard barbecue. For a less spicy version, Bonnie Stern suggests reducing or omitting the chipotles. For a dry version, bake the ribs in the sauce and rub the cooked ribs witht the spice mixture before grilling.

2 tbsp paprika (preferably smoked)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
4 strips back ribs (about 5 lb.)*

Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes, drained and puréed
2 tbsp puréed chipotles
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

* When you prepare any kind of ribs, be sure to remove the membrane on the underside; the meat will be much more tender. Scrape a bit of the membrane away at one edge with a knife and then, using paper towels to help you, hold the ribs with one hand and rip the membrane away with the other. It may come off in a few pieces. Just do the best you can or ask the butcher to do this for you.


Step 1: In a small bowl, combine paprika, sugar, salt and dry mustard.

Step 2: Remove membrane on underside of ribs. Cut strips in two. Rub with spice mixture. Place in a shallow dish, cover and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or up to overnight in refrigerator.

Step 3: Place ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup). Cover with foil and cook in a preheated 300ºF oven for 1-1/2 hours.

Step 4: Meanwhile, to make sauce, in a bowl, combine puréed tomatoes, chipotles, lemon juice, Worcestershire, brown sugar and Dijon mustard.

Step 5: Drain ribs and brush with sauce. Barbecue for 5-8 minutes per side, basting with sauce, until hot and browned. (Alternatively, arrange ribs in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, brush with sauce and roast, uncovered, at 400ºF for 20-30 minutes.)

Reprinted with permission from Bonnie Stern’s Essentials of Home Cooking (2003 Random House Canada).

Virginia Macdonald