Pretzel Crusted Ribs with Mustard Barbeque Sauce
Chef Dirk Flanigan of The Gage – Chicago, IL
Adapted by
January 2009
Yield: 10 - 12 Servings

1 quart plus 1 cup yellow mustard (such as Plochmans)
1 pint good-quality olive oil, plus more for sautéing
Sambal Oelek (or other hot chili paste)
¼ cup toasted and coarsely ground black peppercorns
5 slabs baby back ribs, peeled
2 medium Spanish onions, halved and charred
5 ribs celery, cut into 4-inch pieces
4 young carrots, washed and halved lengthwise
20 cloves garlic, smashed
4 ounces fresh thyme
4 ounces fresh basil
2 gallons pork braising liquid or chicken stock

Mustard Barbeque Sauce:
20 Roma tomatoes
4 medium Spanish onions, 2 sliced and 2 hot-smoked with hickory or apple wood
10 cloves garlic, smashed
1 pint tomato paste
1 quart plus 1 cup molasses
1 pint honey
1 cup Dijon mustard
1½ pints yellow mustard (such as Plochmans)
1 pint cider vinegar
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
¼ cup cayenne peppers, roasted and chopped
3 tablespoons black pepper, toasted and ground
1½ pints Sambal Oelek (or other hot chili paste)

Pretzel Crust:
3 pounds unsalted pretzels

To Finish:
1 cup chopped parsley
2 cups chopped cilantro
Black peppercorns, toasted and coarsely ground
Pretzel salt or course sea salt (such as Murray River)

For the Ribs:
Make a paste out of the yellow mustard, olive oil, sambal, and black pepper. Coat the ribs with the paste. Heat olive oil in a large braising pan. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, and basil and sauté. Add ribs and fill pan with stock until ribs are covered. Cover pan with foil and braise until internal temperature reaches 250°F, or until tender. Remove pan from oven and let ribs cool in the braising liquid. Remove ribs from the liquid and cut into single portions; set aside. Heat braising liquid over medium-high heat and reduce by half; cool completely.

For the Mustard Barbeque Sauce:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until the skins turn dark brown. Heat oil in a saucepan and add sliced onions, smoked onions, and garlic. Sauté and add tomato paste, browning lightly. Add roasted tomatoes and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add remaining ingredients, except for sambal. Cook over low heat until the sauce is rich and viscous. Add sambal and adjust the acidity and seasoning of sauce.

For the Pretzel Crust:
Pulse pretzels in a food processor into crunchy bits. Toast in the oven until golden.

To Finish:
Heat sauce and bring ribs up to temperature in sauce, adding stock if needed. Toss together pretzel bits, parsley, cilantro, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Remove the ribs from the sauce and toss with pretzel mixture to thoroughly coat. Serve immediately.