Oven-baked baby back ribs slathered in a fruity sauce with a hint of spice. Fig Glazed Baby Back Ribs are easy to make and coated in a caramelized sauce.
Here’s the situation – school is back in session and the days are a little shorter. I know I am holding onto as much summer as possible. A few more trips to the lakeshore. Definitely patio seating if we go out for a bite to eat. What’s on the menu – summer food. You know, food that always reminds you of warm weather activities. Maybe a picnic, family party, or a backyard barbeque.
We generally treat grilling as a summer endeavor. I know some die-hards will grill in any kind of weather. In the midwest, it can be a heroic endeavor to grill outside of summer. Fig Glazed Ribs is a recipe that you can use the grill or the oven when you are craving a taste of summer. An easy recipe, the best part is you can bake the ribs ahead of time. In fact, it is better.
Step 1 – Dust the ribs thoroughly with a spice rub. Made of a variety of dry spices, it is also used in the fig barbeque sauce.
There are a little bit of smoky, spicy, and garlicky flavors in the rub. Make sure to rub the spice into all the nooks and crannies on both sides of the ribs.
Wrap the ribs in foil, crimping the sides to seal in the juices. It is helpful to wrap twice. Put the foil-wrapped packages on a sheet tray and pop them into a 350-degree oven for 2 hours.
While the ribs are baking, make the thick and fruity fig sauce. There are a variety of flavors but mostly fruity elements to give a depth of flavor to the sauce.
Put all the ingredients – fresh figs, red wine, onions, garlic, soy sauce, honey, sage, orange peel, and about a teaspoon of the spice rub into a saucepan. I use a small pan that does not have a huge cooking surface. The sauce cooks down until the figs have started to break apart and it is thickened like a syrup. If you use a wider pan, the liquid may evaporate before the ingredients have softened and started to dissolve.
Once the sauce has thickened, pour the ingredients into a blender. The sauce may be a little thick. I add hot water, a tablespoon at a time until the sauce is of the consistency that it can be spread with a brush.
After the ribs have baked for 2 hours, they are removed from the oven to rest. I like to wait at least an hour before I try to unwrap the foil. The ribs will have cooled enough that they will not fall apart if you try to work with them. But be careful – they are very tender.
Your choice – grill or broiler
When you are ready to eat some ribs, choose your cooking method. You can use the broiler or the grill. If you use the grill, I would not place the ribs over a high flame. The high sugar content of the sauce will char easily. However, I think a nice level of caramelization is required. I like to glaze the ribs with a couple of layers of sauce, turning them as needed.
This is a mostly hands-off, easy to prepare meal. This is the kind of meal that waits for you, rather than you waiting for it. If you have some friends coming over for dinner, bake the ribs earlier in the day. You get to hang out, enjoying a drink with your guests.
Enjoy a different take on baby back ribs with this fig sauce. It is fruit-forward, thickly sweet with a hint of spice. The perfect compliment for the ribs. But I can imagine many uses for the sauce, maybe chicken.
Fig Glazed Baby Back Ribs are the taste of summer that you can enjoy year-round.
Need some grilling inspo? https://tenpoundcakecompany.com/grilled-cherry-teriyaki-skewers
Fig Glazed Baby Back Ribs
- sheet pans
- brush for basting
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Fig Barbeque Sauce
- 14 ounces fresh figs cut in half
- ¾ cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 strips orange peel
- 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- ¼ cup onion small dice
- ½ cup honey
- 3 leaves sage cut in thin strips (approximately½ teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon rub
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 slab baby back ribs cut in half
- Combine all ingredients - smoked paprika to ground black pepper. Mix well so that everything is distributed equally. Makes approximately 3 tablespoons.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place ribs on a big piece of foil. Cover both sides of the ribs with the rub, using your fingers to massage it in. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the rub for the fig barbeque sauce.
- Wrap the ribs in the foil, crimping the sides to create a seal. It is helpful to wrap the ribs in a second piece of foil.
- Place the ribs on a sheet pan and place in the oven.
- Bake for 2 hours.
- Let the ribs rest for at least an hour. If you try to pick them up when they are warm, they will fall apart.
Fig Barbeque Sauce
- Combine figs, red wine, soy sauce, orange peel strips, garlic, onion, honey, sage, rub, salt, and pepper in a saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the mix to a boil. The figs will start to break down.
- Cool for roughly 30 minutes. You are looking for the liquid in the pan to be thick, like a syrup.
- Remove the orange peels. Pour everything into a blender. Mix until everything is pureed.
- The sauce will be thick. Add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and spreadable, to your liking. The recipe makes 1 ¼ cups of sauce.
- I broiled the ribs to char the surface. You can use a grill but be careful of flare-ups. The sugar in the sauce will burn quickly.
- Brush the sauce liberally over both sides of the ribs and place on a sheet pan. If using the broiler, put the sheet tray of ribs on the top rack. As the sauce starts to bubble on the surface of the ribs and caramelize, turn the ribs over. Let the underside caramelize. I repeat this step a couple of times, adding coats of sauce each time.
- Cut the ribs between the bones and serve.