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Beer-Braised Baby Back Ribs with Orange-Tamarind Sauce. Photo © Jody Horton
© Jody Horton

Beer-Braised Baby Back Ribs with Orange-Tamarind Sauce

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR

"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.


  1. Six 12-ounce bottles lager
  2. 3 racks baby back ribs (3 1/2 pounds), each rack cut in half
  3. 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  4. 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  5. 1 large onion, coarsely chopped sauce


  1. 1/4 cup rendered bacon fat
  2. 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  3. 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
  5. 1 cup fresh orange juice
  6. 1 cup ketchup
  7. 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  8. 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  9. 1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
  10. 1/2 cup sambal oelek or other Asian chile sauce
  11. 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  12. 1/2 cup tamarind concentrate (see Note)
  13. 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  14. 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  15. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  16. 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.
Make Ahead The cooked ribs can be refrigerated in their braising liquid overnight and reheated gently before grilling. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Notes Tamarind concentrate is available at Asian markets and at specialty food stores.

Suggested Pairing

Beer: Fruity, rich Belgian-style pale ale: 2010 Goose Island Matilda.
Wine: Earthy, berry-inflected Monastrell.



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