Ribs are one of Phil’s favorite meals, and my default recipe has been on the blog for quite some time.  This version is different because instead of the regular barbecue sauce it calls for a tomatillo glaze. Much lighter in terms of sugar content, but very flavorful.  I actually made the exact recipe from Mary Sue Milliken a couple of years ago, but this time I tweaked it and to our taste it was close to perfection.  If you always make ribs with the red, sticky barbecue sauce, try this version for a totally different take. The tomatillos give them a brighter flavor, so get those napkins ready, and dig in!


(inspired by Mary Sue Milliken’s recipe)

for the dry rub:
2 racks of baby back ribs
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, sliced
1 large lime, sliced

for the tomatillo glaze:
1 shallot, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 tomatillos, husked, washed and roughly chopped
1 Serrano chile, sliced
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 325°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of foil; sprinkle rub all over ribs. Wrap racks individually and divide between 2 baking sheets.

Bake ribs until very tender but not falling apart, about 3 hours. Carefully unwrap ribs; pour any juices from foil into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup; reserve juices. Let ribs cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the tomatillo glaze: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the shallot in the olive oil until golden. Add the tomatillos and Serrano chile and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, 30 to 45 minutes. Add the reserved rib pan juices (discard the top layer of fat) and cilantro and cook an additional 10 minutes. Puree in a blender and add the maple syrup. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Turn the oven heat up to 450 degrees F, or heat the grill. If finishing the ribs in the oven, brush generously with the glaze and bake another 10 minutes per side, basting with the glaze every 2 to 3 minutes. To grill, generously glaze the ribs and grill 5 minutes per side, frequently brushing with additional glaze. Cut the ribs apart and serve hot with extra glaze on the side.


to print the recipe, click here

dry rub

 Ready to go into the oven, low and slow does it!

tomatillo glaze

Comments: My default recipe is similar in the overall method of cooking the ribs covered, low and slow, then adding a glaze and blasting it in a very hot oven or grill.  But usually I skip any dry rubs and simply season the ribs with salt, pepper, lemon slices on top.  I decided to change gears this time and after searching cookbooks and websites for the ultimate dry rub, I came up with this one. Not overly spicy, but if you like more heat pump up the cayenne and that should do it.

The tomatillo glaze makes the ribs shine! The recipe makes more than you’ll need for brushing during the final phase of cooking, so warm some up and enjoy with your meal.  Leftovers would pair well with a pork tenderloin or grilled boneless chicken breasts.

closeup1The meat is falling off the bone tender, the glaze is a little tangy, a little sweet, a little spicy and plenty delicious! Great recipe, definitely a perfect option for those living in the USA with the 4th of July celebrations coming up…

This post is dedicated to my Dad, who left us 11 years ago today.
He would have loved these ribs…


ONE YEAR AGO: Ten Years Ago

TWO YEARS AGO: Someone Got a Summer Shave

THREE YEARS AGO: Border Grill Margaritas


FIVE YEARS AGO:  Vermont Sourdough


  1. What a wonderful picture of your dad! He looks like a loving soul full of good humor and zest. Not unlike someone else I know. They do say the Apple does not fall from the tree.😉

    I love your take on ribs Sally. We love them too and are always looking for new ways to try them. Think we found a winner here.


  2. What a great idea! This glaze is so similar to the tomatillo salsa that we make (except for the maple syrup)! What a great change of pace from the traditional BBQ sauce! I definitely need to try this! Hugs to you–your Dad looks like such sweet spirit!


  3. I love tender ribs with lots of flavour like these. Your touching dedication of the dish to your dad reminded me of the fact that my late dad was a lover of dishes like this, as well … he preferred gnawing on rib bones to digging into a meaty steak.🙂


    • One of the things I got from my Dad is that I hate sticky, sugary stuff in my hands – the idea of eating ribs with my bare hands was a total no-no, but I more or less overcame that and I can now do it, so that Americans don’t get horrified by my eating protocol of ribs. My Dad? I doubt he would go for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That warm and fuzzy feeling re your Dad will still be there many decades down the track: I too was my Daddy’s daughter and tho’ he departed a number of decades back we still ‘talk’ every day! Down Under we oft do not seem to get ribs cut the way you do in the US and I have yet to see a tomatillo [am rural?], but this very moreish recipe will be tweaked if needed and used soonest . . .


    • I love that photo too – at the time my Dad was struggling with trigeminal nerve pain, and his facial expression suffered from it. That photo showed him absolutely normal, and I like to remember him like that


  5. We have 4th of July here. I can make these. Nobody celebrates but me but that’s okay. 🙂 I love this tomatillo glaze.


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