Zinfandel and Barbecue for Memorial Day

A rib recipe from New York's Blue Smoke restaurant, plus nine great Zinfandels to pour alongside
May 15, 2009

Memorial Day marks, in many parts of the United States, the start of outdoor grilling season, and the long holiday weekend affords you the time to do some proper barbecuing. Kenny Callaghan, executive chef and partner at New York's Blue Smoke, provided this flavorful recipe for baby back ribs that are seasoned with a savory spice rub, then started in the oven and finished on the grill. We've also included an excellent barbecue sauce recipe. And because barbecue and Zinfandel have a natural affinity, we've put together a selection of 9 recently rated Zinfandels to pour at the pincic table.

Rib recipe by chef Kenny Callaghan of Blue Smoke; sauce recipe adapted from Steven Raichlen's How to Grill (Workman 2001).

For the rub:
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
• 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
• 1 teaspoon chile powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon celery salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

For the meat:
• 2 full racks baby back ribs, skin removed

For the barbecue sauce: (you may also use your favorite recipe or prepared sauce):
• 2 cups ketchup
• 1/4 cup cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons molasses
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine all the rub ingredients and mix well. Place both racks of ribs on a cutting board or wood slab. Gently massage the rub mixture into the ribs, making sure to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

2. Pre-heat oven to 300°. Place ribs on baking sheet in pre-heated oven. Ribs should cook for two hours, or until tender.

3. While the pork cooks, make the barbecue sauce. Combine the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, molasses, mustard, Tabasco, chili powder, liquid smoke and black pepper in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce is dark, thick and rich. Adjust sweetness, sourness and hot pepper to taste.

4. Heat your outdoor grill to high heat. In a small saucepan, warm the barbecue sauce over low heat. Remove the ribs from the oven and transfer to the grill. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Brush the warmed barbecue sauce over the meat and cook the ribs for 2 minutes more on each side. Remove from the grill and let sit 5 minutes.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut ribs in between bones. Serve immediately. For saucier ribs, apply a second coat of warmed sauce just before serving. Serves 6 to 8.


ORIN SWIFT The Prisoner Napa Valley 2007 Score: 92 | $35
Offers both style and structure, with lively aromas of black raspberry, cracked pepper and mocha that lead to plush, layered flavors of wild berry, fresh sage and licorice. Ripe tannins sneak in on the finish. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache. Drink now through 2014. 39,000 cases made. —T.F.

SEGHESIO Zinfandel Sonoma County Old Vine 2006 Score: 92 | $36
This is what great Zinfandel is all about. Ripe but balanced with lively acidity, jammy but concentrated and well-structured. Offers fresh wild berry, raspberry, vanilla and cracked pepper notes, but with layers of intriguing sage, lively mineral and smoke accents. Drink now through 2014. 8,600 cases made. —T.F.

RIDGE Geyserville Sonoma County 2006 Score: 90 | $35
Just like the tasty Sonoma field-style blends of yore, with distinct toasty dill and berry cobbler aromas and zesty raspberry, cracked pepper and earthy sage flavors that end with slightly rustic tannins. Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah and Mataro. Drink now through 2015. 12,000 cases made. —T.F.

MURPHY-GOODE Zinfandel Sonoma County Liar's Dice 2006 Score: 89 | $21
A vibrant and jammy wine, with lively raspberry and pepper aromas and soft, supple black cherry and toasty vanilla flavors. Drink now through 2013. 11,000 cases made. —T.F.

RIDGE Three Valleys Sonoma County 2006 Score: 89 | $22
A ripe bruiser, yet with an underlying sense of structure and finesse. Shows aromas of blueberry pie and toasty dill, with concentrated plum, licorice and smoky pepper flavors that are wrapped in muscular tannins. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane and Grenache. Best from 2010 through 2015. 26,000 cases made. —T.F.

RAVENSWOOD Zinfandel Napa Valley Old Vine 2006 Score: 88 | $18
Offers smoky plum aromas and stout, deep blueberry, sage and licorice flavors that finish with burly tannins. Best from 2010 through 2014. 22,000 cases made. —T.F.

BEAULIEU VINEYARD Zinfandel Napa Valley 2006 Score: 87 | $13
Appealing smoky wild berry aromas lead to dense huckleberry, white pepper and herb notes that build toward big but ripe tannins. Drink now through 2012. 7,000 cases made. —T.F.

ARTEZIN Zinfandel Mendocino County 2007 Score: 86 | $18
Distinctive aromas of fresh basil, thyme and plum lead to modest but spicy blackberry and herb flavors. Drink now through 2013. 15,000 cases made. —T.F.

NAPA CELLARS Zinfandel Napa Valley 2005 Score: 86 | $22
Briary but appealing for its smoky plum aromas and boysenberry, roasted sage and loam flavors. Drink now through 2012. 5,200 cases made. —T.F.

Cooking Holidays / Celebrations Memorial Day Red Wines Zinfandel Recipes

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