Baby-Back Ribs with Maple Whiskey Sauce

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Baby Backs with Maple Whisky Sauce…and Craig’s Sous Vide Baked Beans
Courtesy of Craig Plainfield
Each rack serves 2 as a meal; 4 as an appetizer


  • 1 or 2 racks baby back ribs

For the brine

  • ½ cup (120 g) kosher salt
  • ½ cup (100 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) hickory liquid smoke
  • 1 gallon (3.8 liters) water
  • ½ cup (120 ml) spice mix (below)

For the spice mix

  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) ground celery seed (or Spice Island brand Beau Monde Seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) brown sugar

For the sauce

  • 1 cup (240 ml) grade B pure maple syrup, divided use
  • ½ cup (114 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (100 g) sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons (20 g) garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons (21 g) Fresno chilies with seeds and veins removed, finely minced
  • ½ cup (240 ml) whiskey of choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For serving

  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • Cole Slaw, prepared
  • Craig’s Baked Beans (recipe follows)


  1. Rinse the ribs with fresh water.
  2. With pliers grab the membrane on the convex side of the ribs and pull it off. Discard the membrane. Cut the rack in two pieces so it will fit into your Sous Vide Supreme water oven.
  3. Brine the ribs:
    1. In a container large enough to hold the half racks, combine the salt, brown sugar, liquid smoke, and the water and stir to dissolve completely.
    2. Put the ribs into the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  4. (Optional) Prepare a smoker or covered grill with hickory chips and heat to about 220F/105C.
  5. Remove the ribs from the brine and rinse them under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels (kitchen paper).
  6. In a bowl, mix all Spice Mix ingredients together and then sift the mixture, so it is uniform. It will keep, stored in a jar or zip-closure bag for up to a year.
  7. Generously and thoroughly coat the ribs all over with the spice mix.
  8. If smoking, put the ribs into the smoker for 2 hours. (optional; if not smoking proceed to step 9.)
  9. Fill and preheat the SousVide Supreme water oven to 149F/65C.
  10. Put each half rack of ribs into a large cooking pouch, one half rack per pouch.
  11. Add 1 ½ tablespoons (22.5 ml) of the maple syrup to each pouch and vacuum seal.
  12. Submerge the pouches in the water oven, using the pouch rack to separate the rib racks, and cook for 24 hours.
  13. Meanwhile prepare the sauce:
    1. On the traditional stovetop, put a sauté pan on medium high heat and add the butter.
    2. When the foaming subsides reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic, and chilies and cook gently until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
    3. Add the reserved pouch juices and bring to a simmer.
    4. Take the pan off of the heat and carefully add the whiskey. Keep in mind that the pan may flame even off of the heat.
    5. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a gentle simmer. If the pan flames, just let it burn out.
    6. Add the rest of the maple syrup and stir to make a smooth sauce. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens and slowly drips off of a spoon. This may take some time.
  14. When the ribs are done, open the pouches and transfer the racks to a plate, reserving the liquid in the pouch.
  15. When ready to finish the ribs for serving, bring a well-oiled grill up to high temperature.
  16. Put the ribs onto the grill meaty side up and brush the surface with the sauce. Let the ribs grill for 2 minutes and then turn them over meaty side down.
  17. Brush the under surface with the sauce and let the ribs grill for another 2 minutes and then turn them over again.
  18. Brush the meaty side with sauce and grill until the ribs are heated through. Remember that the ribs are already cooked so you only need to get them hot. When the racks are hot and the surface caramelized, remove them to a cutting board and slice them into individual ribs.
  19. Put them onto a hot serving dish and brush them once again with the sauce. Serve the rest of the sauce.
  20. Garnish the ribs with cilantro, limes, and serve with coleslaw and baked beans (recipe below).

Craig’s Baked Beans
Serves 8 or more


  • 3 cups (600 g) dried white beans (Navy, great Northern, or similar)
  • ½ pound (228 g) bacon, diced
  • 1 cup (150 g) chopped sweet onions
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon (5 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Spice Mix from ribs (above)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons (6 g) minced garlic
  • 14 1/2 ounces (411 g) canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 12 ounces (360 ml) dark beer
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. In a large pot on the stovetop, put the beans and cover with water by 3 inches.
  2. Soak the beans in the water for 24 hours, occasionally stirring and adding water to keep them submerged.
  3. After 24 hours drain the beans and set aside.
  4. Fill and preheat the SousVide Supreme water oven to 193F/90C.
  5. Meanwhile, in a pan on the stovetop over medium high heat and add the bacon, cooking until it’s brown and the fat is rendered, about 6 minutes.
  6. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels (kitchen paper), and reserve.
  7. To the fat in the pan, add the onions, chili powder, cocoa, spice mix, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 30 seconds.
  9. Add the tomatoes and their juices, and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat and let the onion mixture cool for several minutes.
  11. Put the onion mixture into a large (gallon/3.8 liter) zip-closure cooking pouch .
  12. Add the beer, maple syrup, sugar, stock, whiskey, mustard, Worcestershire, bay leaves, and beans. Stir well and use the displacement method (Archimedes’ Principle) to remove the air and zip the seal.
  13. Submerge the pouch in the water oven to cook for 12 hours.
  14. After 12 hours remove the pouch and squeeze a bean through the pouch. If it is soft set the pouch aside. If the beans are not soft return the pouch to the water oven and cook another hour or more until the beans are soft. (If not finishing soon, quick chill the beans in their pouch, submerged in ice water for 20 minutes and refrigerate until ready to proceed.)
  15. When ready to serve, preheat the traditional oven to 450F/230C.
  16. Pour the cooked beans into a well-buttered baking dish and stir in the reserved bacon. Taste the beans and adjust the seasoning with salt and /or pepper.
  17. Put them into the traditional oven until the top is bubbly and lightly browned.
  18. Serve right away or also delicious at room temperature.
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