Slow cooked, open pit, thin vinegar pepper sauce mop basted barbecue!
This style of BBQ cooking is closely related to the method used to cook North Carolina style pulled pork BBQ. The basting sauce is basically the same. A vinegar, buttter, mustard and red pepper basting sauce is favored in the southeast. Vinegar basting is of the oldest traditional American barbecue methods! The old saying "the simpler, the better" applies to this style of BBQ. I decided to use the Alabama name for this BBQ, because this is an old southern style recipe that is popular in that neck of the woods.
Not everybody that cooks BBQ professionally uses a sauce that is pre-made and bottled. The best BBQ stands do make their own sauces. This thin vinegar butter BBQ sauce can never be bottled! Besides, it is very easy to make! Just like the North Carolina pulled meat style BBQ, the cooking method is just as important as the basting sauce.
I worked in the former best BBQ restaurant in America for one year. The restaurant won the best BBQ in America title and the World BBQ Champions several times. We did the eastern BBQ event tour and also the BBQ tour through the rural midwest. We sold Chicago style smoked meat and sweet sauce BBQ. Chicago style BBQ lost its popularity and it took a back seat to North Carolina style BBQ trend.
North Carolina pulled pork BBQ has been popular for the last ten years. North Carolina BBQ is made with thin vinegar basting sauces. People saw the North Carolina style BBQ as a healthier style of BBQ. Given a choice of heavy sweet glaze BBQ sauce or a thin vinegar slow basting sauce, I will choose the slow basting vinegar sauce every time! You can taste the great flavors of open pit slow smoked roasted meat with a thin vinegar sauce!
My family in North Carolina has been cooking BBQ with a thin vinegar, mustard, hot pepper butter sauce for a few hundred years! The North Carolina side of my family has been in America since the late 1500's. We never developed a taste for sweet BBQ!
Throwing a BBQ cookout is a nice way to celebrate Memorial day. This Alabama style thin vinegar BBQ basting sauce is really something special!
Alabama Thin Vinegar Basting BBQ Sauce:
This sauce is very thin and it is diluted with water, as it should be, because this sauce is meant to be mopped on the meat as often as possible. This is a thin sauce that is perfect for a BBQ basting mop. The sauce does not look like much and the sauce does not taste great if you taste it with a spoon. This sauce is designed to baste spare ribs quite often as they slowly roast. The final end result is a rack of ribs, that are saturated with a great thin vinegar, mustard and hot pepper flavor. The butter in the BBQ basting sauce will keep the meat very moist and tender after hours of slow roasting.
Place 3 cups of water in large sauce pot.
Add 4 ounces of unsalted sweet old fashioned butter. (Hand churned or plugra butter is best.)
Add 3/4 cup of cider vinegar.
Add 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce.
Add 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard or 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried mustard.
Add 5 to 6 tablespoons of North Carolina style crushed red tabasco peppers in vinegar.
Note: This is a North Carolina standard table pepper sauce condiment. The hot pepper infused vinegar is sprinkled on food and the peppers remain in the bottle. The crushed hot peppers in the bottle are often used in recipes. If you cannot find this kind of pepper sauce, then a good substitute is coarse Korean red serrano chili pepper sauce or paste.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 4 tablespoons of Louisiana style mild cayenne pepper sauce.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Add 1 teaspoon of onion powder.
Place the pot over low heat.
Stir the ingredients together, till the butter melts and partially emulsifies into the vinegar basting sauce.
Alabama Style BBQ Ribs:
The ribs can be started in a 275º oven if you need to cook indoors. They can be cooked in a 250º smoker that is set to a trickle flow of smoke. A mix of 1 part hickory and 3 parts white oak is the best light smoke for this old fashioned BBQ!
If you run low on basting sauce, make more!
Place a rack of spare ribs or a partial single portion rack in a roasting pan. (About an 8 to 10 bone rack of ribs is a good size single portion.)
Baste the raw ribs.
Slow burn a fire of 3 parts split white oak and 1 part split hickory logs an open pit barbecue or deep char grill.
Wait till the fire starts to turn to embers.
Only occasionally add a fresh piece of fire wood off to the side, so the flames do not touch the ribs. Adding wood will be necessary as the ribs cook
Take the rib section out of the pan and place it on a low temperature spot on the grill.
Slow roast the ribs over the low heat embers.
Flip the ribs once in a while.
Lightly baste the ribs often with the thin BBQ sauce. About once every 5 to 10 minutes the ribs should be thinly basted.
By the time a couple hours go by, there should only be a little bit of basting sauce left in the mixing bowl. The ribs should have a light orange color with flecks of hot red pepper. The ribs should be minimally caramelized from the low heat slow roasting and because of the constant basting.
Grab the end of 1 rib on the rib rack and twist it, the meat should pull away from the bone and the meat should easily tear and shred. The meat should not be falling off of the bones on its own, like most amateur BBQ cooks suggest!
Finishing the Alabama BBQ Spare Ribs:
Heat a cast iron grill, a char grill or an open pit grill to an even medium/medium high temperature.
Place the slow roasted rack of ribs on a cutting board.
Carefully and gently slice the meat between the bones with a very sharp knife to separate each rib.
Place the ribs on the grill.
Mark the ribs lightly with grill marks and baste the ribs with the last bit of the thin BBQ basting sauce.
Allow the ribs to caramelize lightly on the edges as they grill.
Baste the ribs one last time.
Place the Alabama BBQ Spare Ribs on a plate.
Serve with your favorite barbecue sides, like corn on the cob, baked beans, potato salad, onion rings or cole slaw.
I served the Alabama style ribs in the pictures with Neon Potato Salad and White Truffle Oil Chive Cucumber Salad. Those two recipes were posted in the Jujube Chile BBQ Spare Ribs recipe.
The Alabama style ribs look like they have been basted often! One look and you may think that these ribs were not sauced. These ribs do not look like tomato sugar glaze coated ribs.
The most important thing, is that the flavor is there! The flavor is saturated trough the meat because of the constant basting.
If you like North Carolina style hand pulled pork BBQ, then you will like this Alabama style BBQ recipe! The Alabama style BBQ basted spare rib meat is so tender, that it literally shreds in your mouth and it will remind you of North Carolina pulled pork BBQ. Yum! ... Shawna