Red Eye ribs and Café au lait sauce (Steven Raichlin)


Having some friends who share your passion is great! Not only because you can taste each others creations or share some techniques but also because they point out some good cookbooks on this subject! Recently we ordered the book “Best ribs ever” by Steven Raichlin. I picked the book up last sunday and got overwhelmed by the fabulous recipes! As usual I had a hard time choosing the recipe I wanted to try out first… Until I saw this one!

Adding “Café au Lait” to a bbq sauce and ground coffee beans to a rub sounds rather absurd to me. But that’s just what inflamed my interest. I like to drink coffee and I like eating ribs… So far no problem, but what would it taste like to combine both? Looking at the ingredient list, especially the one for the “Café au lait sauce”, made things more intriguing. Have a look for yourself and tell me if you would start preparing these ribs:

Step 1: seasoning the ribs

Ingredients BBQ Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons ground dark roast coffeeFood-8551
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 teaspoon pure chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


I bet you see this one coming… Mix these ingredients by hand and break up the lumps if present. You should taste this rub dry! It’s surprising how well-balanced this rub tastes! Before you start rubbing the ribs check if the membrane at the back of the ribs has been removed. If not start by doing this! How? Place a knife under the membrane and carefully remove the membrane with a paper towel. Spread the rub evenly over your Babyback Ribs and put them aside for at least 4 hrs. This leaves you with lots of time to prepare the “incredible Café au lait Sauce”.

Food-8558 Step 2: Preparing the “Café au lait BBQ Sauce”

Ingredients BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butterFood-8571
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced celery
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee with chicory
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper

Preparation BBQ Sauce:

And? Still on board? Believe me! You must try this sauce! In this part of the proces I started doubting about what I was doing… Mixing these ingredients looked rather disgusting in the beginning. But luckily I persevered. The original recipe contains liquid smoke but I removed it from the list! Since you’re smoking the ribs, it’s not a big deal to smoke the sauce itself!

First you start by melting the butter on a moderate heat level. Once the butter melted toss in the chopped shallots, garlic and celery and let them simmer for a few minutes until light brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and gradually raise the fire until the sauce begins to boil. Add some smoking chips to the fire (I used Jack Daniels smoking chips) and smoke the sauce for +- 15 minutes at 150°C. I smoked the sauce along with the ribs.

Food-8578Step 3: Preparing the ribs

Usually I prepare baby back ribs with the 2-2-1 method to get some fall of the bone ribs! I was always convinced this way was the best way to prepare ribs. Steven Raichlin politely asks to give his way a chance… So that’s what I did! After all he is the face of the BBQ University! This means I smoked the ribs over indirect heat at 150°C (325°F) for 1h15 minutes. Once you’ve placed the ribs on the BBQ or smoker you can start making the Mop Sauce.

Ingredients Mop Sauce:Food-8599

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar (not in the original recipe)

Melt the butter and add the other ingredients. Let them simmer for about a minute while whisking the sauce. This mop sauce really tasted sour and bitter! I couldn’t resist adding 2 Tbsp. of brown sugar to compensate these extreme flavours! I don’t regret my decision.

After 45 min. you can start brushing the ribs on both sides with the mop sauce you made! I was getting curious by now so I pulled a little piece of the meat and realised how good the rub tasted on the meat! I was longing to taste the entire dish by now! But I still had some time since I was watching the Tour de France while preparing the ribs (not a bad combination).

I mopped the ribs every 10 minutes and removed them after a total time of 1,15 hrs. This is the last stage of the preparation. Glaze the ribs with the “Café au lait BBQ sauce” and put them back over direct fire for 2m. each side. The BBQ sauce should sizzle if you’re doing right. 
The Baby Backs are  ready to serve now! I made the Fennel Slaw described in the book but wasn’t really convinced about the recipe… Personnaly I think  my Fennel Slaw contains more balanced flavours. But who cares?! The ribs were way to tasteful to complain about the vegetables… Awesome introduction to what I believe is a great book! It won’t take long before I try some other recipes.

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