When I was younger I used to LOVE me some Chili's. Every time it was my birthday and I got to pick the restaurant, I would insist on going there, much to my parents' chagrin (although my Mom liked the baby back ribs there, and don't let her try to convince you otherwise!). When I got to high school, we would go there and sit in the bar area and eat Chicken Crispers by the truckful. Because only the cool kids sit in the bar area and are able to metabolize 2500 calories worth of fried chicken and french fries (with a side of cinnamon apples!). This was all before I became a restaurant snob, clearly.
I loved Chili's so much during my adolescence, I decided to work there as soon as I was old enough to serve booze. I thought I was hot stuff in my hunter green polo and chili pepper apron over my flare jeans. Hot stuff indeed.
I'm firmly planted in the "everyone should wait tables at some point in their lives" camp. Because, I have a feeling that all of the jackholes I encountered while waiting tables at Chili's had never done so themselves. And that perhaps they would have learned some empathy if they themselves had donned a hunter green Chili's polo and flare jeans. I ran into all kinds of customer "gems".
Like, the one night I had to serve all-you-can-eat fajitas to the University of Virginia football team. You'd think that would be fun for me, being an 18 year-old girl in cute flare jeans, but not when a serving is the size of my pinky finger. Because Chili's didn't have a BUFFET for all-you-can eat fajita night...oh no, that would make too much sense! Instead, if you could eat more fajitas than you were served, you had to order more from your waitress who then had to run along and fetch them for you. And when there are 10 of you (weighing appx. 300 pounds each) and only one of your waitress (in her awesome hunter green polo), that gets unfairly tiring pretty quickly. And you know what else? College kids are notoriously bad tippers. Especially since they weren't drinking anything besides water. I was at LEAST hoping for drunk college boys who wanted to impress their friends with how well they tipped. Alas, I guess those boys stayed home that night.
Or, the time that this old grumpy guy gobbled up his meal like he hadn't eaten in weeks (although he looked pretty well-fed to me!) and then proceeded to point at his empty plate, and declare the meal "terrible". And then he proceeded to tell me that I should be fired on the spot. Uhhh, right....because OF COURSE as your waitress, I also cooked your meal. If he knew anything about Chili's, he would know that the cooks wore black T-shirts and not hunter green polos! Duh!
I could go on and on about the joys of being a Chili's waitress, but my wine glass needs a refill so I need to get on with this blog post.
I never personally ordered baby back ribs at Chili's, but I do quite like them although I've never attempted to make them myself. So when I saw ribs on sale at Sam's Club, I decided that I was going to give it a go. I must say, they were quite delicious! I used Emeril's dry rub and then adapted his BBQ sauce recipe to my personal tastes. Since we had like 3 whole racks (downside of buying meat at a wholesale club), I made them to share at a BBQ last weekend. Everyone loved them! Everyone also loved the bottle of Patron that another party guest brought to share, but that's a story for another day.
Grilled Baby Back Ribs
Source: Adapted from Emeril
3 racks baby back pork ribs, about 4 pounds, each cut in half
6 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows or favorite rib rub
4 cups ketchup
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup pure cane syrup, or molasses
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Creole or other spicy whole-grain mustard
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon or other hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs (if needed). Rub the ribs on both sides with Essence (recipe follows). Place in a large sealable bag or on a large sheet of aluminum foil placed in a large roasting pan. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the ribs from the bag and bring to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Line a large baking sheet with heavy aluminum foil, lay the ribs on top, and tightly cover with foil. Roast for 2 hours.
Preheat the grill.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine all ingredients and mix well. Taste, and adjust as necessary.
Remove the ribs from the oven and uncover. Transfer to the hot grill, cover, and cook over indirect heat for 30 minutes, brushing the ribs with the sauce. Baste and turn every 5-10 minutes until done.
Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1 teaspoon blackening season
1 tablespoon cumin
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.