Dorrance Dance’s Christopher Broughton Shares His Sweet and Zesty Oven-Baked Pork Ribs
Tap dancer Christopher Broughton is all about seasoning. “I can’t live without all of the spices,” says the Dorrance Dance company member. “My grandmother, when I watched her cook, just used a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” Broughton, who now lives with his wife and two dogs in Round Rock, Texas, and travels to and from New York City for rehearsals, taught himself to cook through a mixture of experimentation and necessity. “When I was first in New York, I didn’t have much money to spend on food, so I learned through trial and error, using whatever I had in my seasoning cabinet,” he says. Years later, that mentality has endured. “I’ve never been a recipe guy. I love to cook and do it every day. And if I don’t, then we don’t eat,” Broughton says with a chuckle.
Broughton’s oven-baked pork ribs are a favorite for holidays, game days or gatherings of family and friends. “It’s a dish that can feed multiple people, and it’s a very homey, feel-good meal” he says, adding that he sees sharing food as a chance to bring people together. “I like to make people smile on the stage, and it feels good to know that I can make their bellies smile, too.”
Broughton tends to pair his ribs with broccolini and mashed potatoes. Both recipes come together easily. “I steam broccolini in a splash or two of water with an Italian medley seasoning and a teaspoon of butter, and add salt to it afterwards.” For the mashed potatoes, Broughton prefers red Idaho potatoes for the color the skins provide. “Boil until they’re soft to the fork. Drain them, and then whip together with some heavy cream, butter and salt until you get the texture you like. You can also add garlic powder.”
“I use every spoon and every pot in the kitchen, no matter what I’m making,” says Broughton. “If I’m using a spoon or a spatula, I use it once and then it goes in the sink. I guess I like to use new things.” When cooking, Broughton likes to keep ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on in the background: “On mute or not, depending on who’s around.”
• 2 1/2-lb slab of baby back ribs
• 2 green apples
• 2 red onions
• 1 cup beef broth
• 2 cups barbecue sauce (Broughton vacillates between making his own and buying a bottle. His favorite brand is Sweet Baby Ray’s.)
• honey to taste (No matter which barbecue sauce Broughton’s working with, he adds a bit of honey to balance out the spiciness of the dish.)
• 1 tbsp salt
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tsp ground white pepper
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 1/2 tsp to 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
• 1/2 tsp to 1 tbsp chili pepper (“It depends on how much of a kick you want,” says Broughton of both the cayenne and chili pepper.)
• 1 tbsp Montana Mex Sweet Seasoning Blend (If you can’t find Montana Mex in your local grocery, Broughton suggests ordering online. Otherwise, a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg will do.)
• 1 tbsp McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
• 1 tbsp McCormick Grill Mates Barbecue Seasoning
- Preheat oven to 275°F.
- For the spice rub, in a small bowl mix together all the dry seasonings.
- Remove the thin, clear membrane covering the back of the rack of ribs. Slide a small paring knife under the membrane at one end of the ribs and separate until there’s enough to hold on to, then grip it with a paper towel. Use a paring knife or spoon to help you finish separating the membrane from the rack, pulling it back slowly.
- Peel and quarter the onions, cutting the ends off first; quarter the apples.
- Line a deep metal baking pan with aluminum foil, and lay alternating pieces of apple and onion in a row. Pour beef broth over the top.
- Rub the dry-seasoning mix all over both sides of the ribs. Place the ribs, meat side up, on top of the apples and onions, using them as a bed for the meat. If necessary to fi t the rack, trim off a few ribs and arrange along the side.
- Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours. Mix barbecue sauce with honey. Remove the ribs and, using a spoon, baste with half the sauce. Re-cover, and bake for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is very tender and falling off the bone. (“If you like a little chewiness, you can take them out at the 3 or 3 1/2-hour mark,” says Broughton, who himself waits until the meat shrinks and the bones start to stick out.)
- Remove the ribs from the oven and turn on the broiler. While the broiler is heating up, remove the foil and baste the ribs generously with the juice from the bottom of the pan, removing any excess. Brush both sides of ribs with remaining barbecue sauce.
- Broil for 5–7 minutes, just until the sauce begins to caramelize. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn.
- Remove from the oven, lay the foil back over the ribs, and let them rest for 10 minutes before digging in!