Summer is winding down, and harvest season is in full swing, with so many colors and flavors to enjoy. As we begin to acclimate to shorter days and cooler air, it’s a nice time to enjoy meals with a little more heft and richer sauces. Likewise, we can turn toward mezcal that has deeply roasted flavors that can stand up to more robust spices. The overarching theme of this month’s pairing is classics done well; simple, reliable, and so satisfying.
The star of this recipe is the chamoy- a thick, sweet, spicy, and tangy sauce made from dried fruits, chilies, and hibiscus. There are many recipes out there for chamoy, and plenty of options for pre-made store bought versions. Like so many other things, homemade is a million times better than store bought- so much so that it’s not really worth making this or pairing it with mezcal if it’s not homemade. The ingredient list and princess are simple, and once you make it, you’ll never go back. Beyond turning chamoy into a bbq sauce, it will also seriously elevate your michelada and mangonada game.
Del Maguey Chichicapa is an iconic mezcal, not just because it was one of the first artisanal mezcals to be available outside of Mexico, but also for its characteristic dark roasted flavor of charred and caramelized pineapple. It comes as no surprise that the process for making this mezcal does in fact include an extra dark roast, drawing out the sweetness of roasted agave kissed with smoke. I can’t imagine a mezcal that is better to pair with bbq.
Feel free to substitute another protein or vegetarian option for the ribs, just be sure to adjust the cooking times and technique. I prefer to cook my ribs in the oven, but grilling is another great option. While pressure cooking the ribs and then finishing under the broiler works for other recipes, I find the long cooking time for this recipe gives the chamoy a chance to really permeate the meat. I know people have strong opinions about how to cook ribs, so ultimately, follow your heart!
Homemade Chamoy Ribs
For the chamoy
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 cup prunes
- 1 cup dried flor de jamaica
- 2 limes, juiced
- ½ cup tajin
- chili powder, to taste
Simmer the apricot, prunes, and jamaica in 4 cups of water for 10-15 minutes- do not boil. Once cool enough to handle, blend thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients, adjust salt, lime, and chili to taste. Add water to thin to desires consistency, I like mine thick, especially for turning into bbq sauce.
To make your homemade chamoy into BBQ sauce, add Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and extra chili powder to taste.
To make the ribs, pat a full rack of ribs dry with a paper towel and season with your dry rub of choice. Paint on a generous amount of the chamoy bbq sauce and cover tightly in foil. Cook in the oven at 325 degrees for 2.5 hours. Open the foil, cover with more chamoy bbq sauce and cook for another 30 minutes or until edges and top start to caramelize. Let the ribs rest at least 10 minutes before serving.