Baby Back Ribs with Bootlegger BBQ Sauce

Baby Back Ribs

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Grill Time: 4 ½ hours



Baby back pork ribs, membranes removed from rib backs
2 tablespoons yellow mustard (optional)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons KJ’s basic BBQ rub
½ cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
¼ cup squeezable buttery spread
¼ cup agave nectar or honey (optional)


For the BBQ Sauce

⅓ cup ketchup
¼ cup BBQ sauce
½ cup apple jelly
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried onion flakes
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon roasted ground cumin, (roasted is preferable)
⅛ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
Smoked salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon)


Clean out the ashes from your Kamado JAN. Add new charcoal and 4 or 5 fist-sized wood chunks to the fire box; top with any coal left from previous cooks. Preheat to 120°C, and set up the grill for indirect heat.

Spread the mustard on both sides of the ribs. This is optional, but it serves as a binder for the rub and you won’t taste it in the end.

Season both sides of the ribs with the 2 teaspoons black pepper and then the BBQ rub.

Once the smoke has changed to very light white or bluish, place the ribs on the main cooking grate, bone side down. Cover and cook for 2½ hours.

Meanwhile, make the BBQ sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer on the stovetop over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool and then use a blender to create a smooth texture.

Fold 2 (45 x 120 cm) pieces of heavyduty aluminum foil in half to form 45 x 60 cm pieces. Lay the sheets on a work surface and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar down the middle of each sheet, followed by a squirt of squeezable spread the length of a rib. Arrange a rib on the butter/sugar mixture, bone side up, and top with the rest of the brown sugar and more spread. If you like really sweet ribs, you can add a squirt of agave or honey on each side as well. Roll up the foil edges to seal the packets. Return the ribs to your Kamado JAN, bone side up; cover the grill and cook for 1 hour more.

Remove the foil packets from the grill and carefully open, watching for escaping hot steam. Remove the ribs from the foil, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid, and return them to the grill, bone side down, and close the lid. Cook until tender, about 30 to 60 minutes more. When the ribs bend easily when lifted at one end, they are ready to be sauced.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup of the BBQ sauce and the ¼ cup reserved juices. Brush onto both sides of the ribs and return to the grill for another 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

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