Novak family legend says that this rib recipe is why my pops fell for my mom.
If you take a look at the picture below, from 1979, I’m pretty sure he fell for the white pantsuit. Cause how could he not.
Sidenote. We know that this picture was taken on a night when my mother was neither cooking nor eating ribs. Cause how could you eat ribs in a WHITE PANTSUIT. Growing up, when we’d have ribs, I’d have to change into painting clothes to eat them. That is not a joke. And still, somehow, I’d wind up with rib sauce like near my ear. What the fuck was I doing with the ribs? Maybe I have a mouth ear… hmm.
Anyways. These ribs are the jam. And I’d been saying I’d make them for my friends Evan and Lauren since the dawn of time for forever for a while and I finally did about a week ago. Only hiccup? Lauren doesn’t eat meat.
AND, ALSO, ACCEPTED.
IN CASE THAT WASN’T CLEAR.
…I WASN’T GOING TO NOT FEED HER FOOD.
Having never even purchased tofu at the grocery store before, I turned to my go to for recipes, FoodNetwork.com and searched “Barbecue Tofu” and was VERY disappointed. On 14 pages of Barbecue Tofu recipes, only 1 was actually barbecue tofu and it was a segment from a Bobby Flay show about barbecue. I lost interest after :12 seconds. And yes, I did actually look at all 14 pages.
So, I bought some firm tofu and just hoped that Lauren could help me. Cause that’s the kind of amazingly well researched fake food blog this is. Thankfully, Lauren learned me good. Which proves that she chose the right profession in becoming a teacher. She typically works with extra firm tofu, but this worked quite well. She taught me the steps to prepare the tofu. But the greatest lesson that she taught me is that the tofu is just a vehicle for sauce. So wise beyond her years…
Ah. The sauce. You guys. This sauce is so good. And frankly, it plays into some more Novak family legend. My mom tells me she got this sauce recipe off a bottle of Prell shampoo. She got the RIB SAUCE RECIPE off a BOTTLE OF SHAMPOO. I’ve tried Googling to verify, but to no avail. Prell doesn’t even exist anymore. Also? I work in advertising. Nowadays, I can’t imagine the hilarious faux (and real) outrage on social media if bumble and bumble came out with a recipe for Southern Fried Pork Chops. (“Um, yeah, hai, are they even organic free range pork chops, bb?”)
But it was the ‘70s. And it was different. I like this recipe even more because there’s a chance you could’ve been reading it in the shower and thought, “huh, this sounds good. After the Rockford Files, I’ll cruise on down to the store and pick up the ingredients to make this!”
I made the sauce the day before and reheated it over low, stirring frequently.When I made it the day ahead, I put it on some chicken wings that I did in the oven (400 for 45 minutes. Boom. Easy.)
If you’re having ribs, you’ve got to have them with some sort of potato (duh…it’s AMERICA) and you’ve got to have some cole slaw.
I made my internet friend Phoebe Lapine’s sweet potato fries. Phoebe is rull cool. Lives in New York, cookbook author, and private chef. Just competed on BBCA’s Chef Race. I might have shed a tear when she got eliminated. Check out her blog Feed Me Phoebe. Phoebe and I share a love for French fries which makes me think that we’d be friends IRL cause we’d talk about all the different things we’d dip French fries into over cocktails. “Aioli IS underrated,” we’d laugh! And then cheers and order another plate of fries while discussing the pros and cons of beer ketchup.
This recipe for gluten free sweet potato fries is amazing–tasty and easy. In fact, the hardest part is not chopping your fingers off when you are cutting the sweet potato. Seriously, you will want to/try to chop your fingers off. But don’t. It’s not a good idea, even though it seems like one at the time.
For all of my mom’s prowess at the shampoo rib sauce (please note: not made of actual shampoo), I grew up on Marzetti cole slaw dressing. So it’s not too hard to beat, even if it’s just a simple introduction of some acid in the form of apple cider vinegar. And bonus, for those on Weight Watchers, this is only 3 points per serving. Boom.
I was worried about using all one oven to get everything done: the fries go in at 450, the ribs usually go in at 350, the tofu goes in at I have no idea what temperature….700? Is that what it is for tofu? And I am fairly certain that you do not need to bake the cole slaw. (That one WAS a joke, y’all.) I just kept an eye on the ribs to make sure they looked ok. And nothing burned! Well. Some of the rib sauce that hit the sheet tray and burned, causing the smoke alarm to go off. Twice. Causing Evan to look really cool to dissipate the heat from around the smoke alarm.
Everything tasted really good, though. And I didn’t wind up with rib sauce by my ear. Small victories! I did wind up with some on my pants, though. And I almost knocked over my wine. But the piece de resistance was when I made my delicious plate and then dropped it right on the floor. I guess some things never change. I should’ve worn my paint clothes over.
Maria’s Famous Ribs, from a bottle of Prell Shampoo in the 1970’s
For the sauce:
- 2 cups of ketchup
- 1 bottle of Heinz chili sauce
- 8 TB of brown sugar
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 chopped onion
- 1/3 cup of yellow mustard
- 8 t. of Worcestershire sauce
- dash of garlic salt
- thin slices of lemon (1 lemon)
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan or small pot. Bring to boil for 10-15 minutes.
You can use immediately, cool and freeze or cool and refrigerate for use in the next few days.
For the ribs:
- 1 rack of ribs | My mom says a butcher once told her that it doesn’t really matter which cut you get: babyback vs. spare ribs. The grocery store only had babyback and beef ribs and well, there’s no reason to eat beef ribs unless you don’t eat pork ribs. These babyback ribs were quite tender.
Cut the ribs into sections. (I like to go for 3 ribs per section.) Parboil the ribs in salted water for 45-60 minutes. Check for tenderness. Preheat oven to 350. Drain and pat excess moisture off. Baste ribs with sauce and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
For the tofu version:
- 1 package of extra firm tofu
Drain. Cut into cross-wise. Press excess moisture out with a paper towel. Using oil or cooking spray, pan fry until golden and firm, roughly 10-12 minutes.
Place tofu in baking dish and cover with sauce. Bake for 15 minutes at 350, or until heated through.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Rosemary, from Feed Me Phoebe
- 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil, rosemary, salt, and paprika until well incorporated.
Arrange the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet in an even layer. Take care to give them some space and not overcrowd the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, redistributing once during the cooking process, until browned and crispy. Allow to cool slightly – they will get even crisper and firmer as they come to room temperature.
Simply, Skinny Crunchy Slaw, from Skinny Kitchen with Nancy Fox
- 6 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup Nancy’s Skinny Ranch Dressing or reduced-fat mayonnaise | I did Duke’s reduced fat mayo here.
- 2 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
In a large bowl add shredded cabbage and carrots. In a small bowl whisk together reduced-fat mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar.
Refrigerate the cabbage, carrots and dressing until ready to serve. Do not toss together until ready to eat.