Hard Rock Cafe Famous Baby Rock Watermelon Ribs
By Todd Wilbur
Menu Description: "Texas style ribs basted in our special watermelon B.B.Q. sauce, grilled and served with fries and a green salad."
The collection of rock and roll memorabilia is different in each Hard Rock Cafe. You may find artifacts that come from recording stars of the fifties, like Elvis Presley and Fats Domino, to more contemporary artists such as Prince, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. Usually there are several gold and platinum records donated from artists, sequined stage costumes, and famous guitars, some even left in a smashed condition as they were donated straight from a performance. The Hard Rock also collects movie memorabilia, such as Tom Cruise's pilot helmet from the movie Top Gun and the Indiana Jones jacket from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In 1995, Hard Rock co-founder Peter Morton opened the world's first rock-and-roll hotel, The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas. Peter now operates the hotel and his swank restaurant Morton's in Hollywood, California—the famous location of many a celebrity power meal over the years.
I thought these ribs with a barbecue sauce made from watermelon rind had a unique and memorable flavor begging to be duplicated for your next power meal. The sauce is sweet and slightly tangy, and the ribs are so tender they melt in your mouth. It's the slow-cooking process that makes them that way. Throwing them on the grill at the last minute is not meant to cook them so much as it is to add the smoky flavor and slight charring that good ribs require. If possible, make the watermelon barbecue sauce a day ahead so the ribs can marinate in it overnight. If you don't have time for that, at least marinate the ribs for a couple of hours.
This recipe is available in
- Watermelon rind from about 1/2 of a small watermelon
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 pounds baby back ribs
- Do This
Restaurant/BrandHard Rock Cafe
1. For the pureed watermelon rind, you want to cut off the green skin and about half an inch of the hard white part, keeping the part of the watermelon that is lighter red to white. This is the tender part of the rind. Try to stay away from the harder, white rind just inside the green skin. Put the rind into a food processor and puree for only about 10 seconds. Strain the liquid from the pulp and use 1 cup of pulp, measured after straining.
2. Combine the watermelon pulp with the remaining ingredients for the sauce in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until it's as thick as you like it.
3. Cut the racks of ribs into plate-size portions of about 6 or 7 rib bones each. Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce and wrap each rack individually in aluminum foil. Be sure to save some sauce for later. Let the ribs marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours at least. (Overnight is best.)
4. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. To cook the ribs, set them with the seam of the foil facing up, into the oven. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the rib meat has pulled back from the cut end of the bones by about 1/2 inch. They should be very tender.
5. Remove the ribs from the foil and brush on some additional sauce. Grill the ribs on a hot barbecue for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until you see several spots of charred sauce. Be sure to watch the ribs so that they do not burn. Serve with leftover sauce on the side.
Serves 2 to 4.