A few weeks ago I indulged in the creation of an odd sort-of barbecue sauce made of (among other things) root beer. Tiffany responded with a recommendation for a peanut butter barbecue sauce, which I promptly loaded into the meal planner and cued for the Brad-and-Karin Test Kitchen. Friday, with the afternoon off (and it being Karin’s birthday and all) was ideal for grilling these ribs and testing out the recommendation. Thus, follows:
Peanut Butter BBQ Ribs
First, if you enjoy Thai food, you’ll probably like these. If you like really rocking good Thai food you might even give them a two thumbs up. They are completely and utterly Thai. In fact, I felt a primal urge to cook coconut rice to accompany them because it would have been a culinary tragedy to have missed that key side dish (oh, and there was a half a can of coconut milk left over from the sauce that would have been a shame to waste.)
The trick, I suppose, is the prep time. I made up the sauce about five hours in advance of the actual grilling. It’s not an especially difficult sauce, either. A whole stack of ingredients go into a pot to form a brown, gooey mess that needs to boil, simmer, and reduce to a warm brown, gooey mess that you eventually drizzle over the meat.
Refrigerate. I stuffed them in a big Tupperware pan and shook them up to coat ever hour or so. By the time they were ready to cook the sauce had chilled to a thick, peanut-hued sludge that when tasted (and in bit of retrospective advice kids, don’t be dumb like your Unkee Brad and taste marinade thats been mingling with raw meat for five hours — that’s a game of, well, Montezuma’s Roulette you’re playing there, and you may not be lucky like me and sneak by unnoticed) the taste was not very good: A bit bland and raw.
I fired up the grill, and let the ribs heat for a while on the top rack. Luckily there was tonnes of sauce left over because (oddly enough) the first thing the sauce did as it heated up, was to liquefy and drizzle right off into the fire below. Eventually the meat browned nice and tasty-like, and the extra sauce I added on every turn (until it ran out) formed a rough kind-of crust on the outside of the ribs.
On a side note, Karin and I were discussing the “proper” way to grill ribs and am now officially disappointed that some rib restaurants (you know who you are) now don’t bother to sauce the meat as it’s cooking, instead opting to bring you a “selection” of room-temperature, squeeze-bottle sauces at your table. It’s called CARAMELIZATION, Mr. Roma! C’mon! Heat meets sugar and chemical reactions occur forming a sweet, sticky glaze that cannot be replaced by treating BBQ sauce as flavoured ketchup. Bah!
The result of our Peanut Butter Rib experiment was ultimately positive: the food came off the grill toasty hot and bursting with a distinct Thai edge that was hinted at in the sauce, but not fully realized until cooked. And the rice complimented well. I imagine with practice (and perhaps more patient grilling) one could balance the flavours a little more delicately and pull off a more subtle taste. Or, I would recommend putting this on skewered pork and grilling that instead. Either way, on a day with a couple hours to kill cooking, it’s definitely worth a try.