How to Make Baby Back Ribs the Loro Way
Austin's lauded Asian smokehouse shares its secrets
Texas takes smoked meat seriously, as evidenced by its internationally famous reputation for barbecue. So, if you’re going to put ribs on your menu, you can’t be nonchalant about it — you’ve got to workshop a recipe until it’s perfect. Also, it helps if the people doing the workshopping are responsible for some of the state’s best restaurants.
Loro is the Asian smokehouse from superchefs Tyson Cole (Uchi, Uchiko and Uchibā), Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) and Jack Yoss, who serves as the VP of culinary operations at Hai Hospitality, the powerhouse Austin-based restaurant group behind Loro and the Uchi concepts.
It opened in Austin in 2018 and expanded to Dallas last summer, with both menus featuring a mouthwatering plate of Smoked Baby Back Duroc Pork Ribs that you can only get on Sundays and Mondays.
When creating this dish — and all its dishes — the Loro team aimed for “familiar but unique.” Yoss, who formerly lived and worked in Bali, says that he’s always loved Indonesian-style pork ribs. And with spare ribs being a staple in Texas barbecue, it made sense to combine the two. That’s where the R&D process began.
“Great product is the first step, and we chose Duroc pork ribs for the flavor, marbling, and consistency,” says Yoss. The Loro team experimented with multiple preparations and dozens of sauces before landing on the final recipe.
“Ultimately, we ended up with an apple cider-curry marinade that cuts the fat in the meat and gives the ribs a slightly cured texture,” he says. The sauce was next, and the clear winner was a pineapple-tamarind BBQ sauce.
Yoss says the ribs were fantastic straight out of the smoker, but they thought: Can we make this better? The answer was yes, by quickly grilling the ribs to order on high heat on the restaurant’s post oak-fired grill.
If you try making these ribs yourself, Yoss suggests buying your meat from a butcher. And if you don’t have a smoker, you can still follow the recipe, but instead of smoking the ribs, simply cook them in the oven and then finish them on the grill. You’ll miss some of the smoky flavor, but they’ll still be delicious.
Loro Austin’s Smoked Baby Back Duroc Pork Ribs
Makes 2 racks
For the marinade:
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅛ cup Maeseri red curry paste
Mix ingredients and set aside.
For the pineapple-tamarind BBQ sauce (yields 1 quart):
- 25 ounces honey
- 3.5 ounces sweet soy sauce
- 3.5 ounces ketchup
- 2.5 ounces tamarind concentrate
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ounce ginger
- 4.5 ounces pineapple
- 4.5 ounces fish sauce
- 2.5 ounces Thai sriracha sauce
- ½ teaspoon mesquite powder (sub liquid smoke, if needed)
- ¼ teaspoon nam tok seasoning
Mix all ingredients in a blender.
To prep the ribs:
Set the smoker to 265 F. Pat the ribs dry of any moisture. The inside of the ribs will have a thin membrane. Start at a corner, and with a dry towel start to peel the membrane away until it’s removed.
Lather the ribs with the marinade. Season liberally with salt and black pepper. Let marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.
To cook the ribs:
Place ribs in the smoker with the inside of the ribs facing down. Pull out once the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Take 2 pieces of foil 4 inches longer than the length of the ribs, place on a table, and add 2-4 ounces pineapple-tamarind BBQ sauce on the foil and spread. Place the ribs on the sauced foil, inside facing up, and lather the inside of the ribs with 2 ounces BBQ sauce. Wrap the foil around the ribs so no sauce leaks out. Repeat with the second rack. Place back into the smoker until the internal temp has reached 205 F. Let rest for 1 hour.
To finish the ribs:
Unwrap the ribs and place on a hot grill to get a slight char. Use 1-2 ounces of BBQ sauce to lather each side of the ribs as they grill, and continue to rotate the racks.
Serve with artisanal pickles and the remaining BBQ sauce.
If you do not have a smoker:
Place the marinated ribs in an oven safe Pyrex dish, add 4 ounces of water to the pan, and cover with foil. Cook at 300 F for 1 hour. Add 2-4 ounces BBQ sauce, cover, and continue to cook until fork-tender. Follow the same finishing process.
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