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Red Rub. Red Rub.

January 27, 1999|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Hearty food and football go together. Jeff Drew's Achiote Grilled Ribs, better known in my family as "the best ribs ever," are perfect to grill during halftime. They are hot and spicy, and that's part of their appeal.

Drew, chef de cuisine at Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, braises the ribs in a flavorful broth before grilling. The braising liquid and barbecue sauce can be made several days ahead and the ribs braised the day before.

Ancho Porter Barbecue Sauce enhances any grilled meat, but on these ribs, it's extraordinary. The recipe makes more than you will need for four slabs of ribs, but it's such a great-tasting sauce that I recommend making the full recipe to use with your next batch of ribs.

Mandel is author of "Celebrating the Midwestern Table" (Doubleday & Co., 1996).

Achiote Grilled Ribs

Active Work Time: 25 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

If you prefer less spicy ribs, omit the Achiote Rib Rub and brush the ribs with Ancho Porter Barbecue Sauce before grilling.

2 gallons beef stock

1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

1 cup achiote paste

2 cups ground ancho chiles

1 1/2 cups ground cumin

1 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup garlic powder

1/4 cup hot pepper sauce

1/4 cup chipotle sauce or pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1/4 cup cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon honey

2 smoked ham hocks

4 (3-pound) slabs pork ribs

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

6 tablespoons Achiote Rib Rub

Ancho Porter Barbecue Sauce, optional

* Combine beef stock and vinegar in stock pot. Add achiote paste and stir to dissolve. Add ground ancho chiles, cumin, tomato paste, garlic powder, hot pepper sauce, chipotle sauce, cayenne, ginger and honey and stir to mix well. Add ham hocks and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Recipe can be made to this point.

* Season ribs with salt. Place ribs in large, deep roasting pan and pour cooking liquid over ribs. Wrap with plastic wrap, then cover with foil and seal airtight. Bake at 350 degrees until meat is tender but not falling off bone, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and let rest in cooking liquid until cool. Ribs can be refrigerated overnight.

* Remove ribs from liquid. Reserve liquid, skim off fat and freeze to use again for braising ribs. Lightly blot ribs with paper towels. Use fingers to rub Achiote Rib Rub over ribs to coat.

* Heat grill to high. Grease grate with oiled paper towels. Grill ribs until slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side. Cut into individual rib servings. Pass Ancho Porter Barbecue Sauce separately.

6 servings. Each serving, without Ancho Porter Barbecue Sauce: 861 calories; 1,908 mg sodium; 318 mg cholesterol; 64 grams fat; 2 grams carbohydrates; 70 grams protein; 0gram fiber.

Achiote Rib Rub

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 5 minutes

1/4 cup achiote paste

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons chipotle sauce or pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

* Process achiote paste, oil, chipotle sauce and vinegar in food processor until smooth. The rub can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated.

About 3/4 cup. Each tablespoon: 40 calories; 38 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0 fiber.

Ancho Porter Barbecue Sauce

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours

2 heads garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt, pepper

8 tomatoes

8 dried ancho chiles

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup dark molasses

3/4 cup chipotle sauce or pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 tablespoon celery seeds

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions, diced, about 2 cups

2 cups ketchup

1 1/2 cups tomato juice

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 cup porter beer

* Trim tops from garlic heads. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Wrap in foil and bake at 400 degrees until tender, 40 to 50 minutes. When cool, squeeze bulbs to release garlic.

* While garlic bakes, cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds. Roast at 400 degrees (alongside garlic) until skins are blackened, about 15 minutes.

* Place ancho chiles in water to cover to rehydrate, about 15 minutes.

* Place cider vinegar, wine vinegar, molasses, chipotle sauce, brown sugar, mustard seeds and celery seeds in saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced by 3/4, 25 to 30 minutes. Pour through fine sieve. Discard solids.

* Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add onions and cook until caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add ketchup, tomato juice, blackened tomatoes, roasted garlic, dry mustard, drained ancho chiles and reduced vinegar mixture. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

* Puree in batches in blender. Strain through fine sieve. Return to pan and stir in beer. Simmer 10 minutes. Let cool. Sauce can be made up to 2 weeks ahead.

8 cups. Each tablespoon: 20 calories; 46 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0.4 gram fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 0.4 gram protein; 0 fiber.

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