smoky sweet spicy oven baked ribs from chef Isaac Toups
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No grill? No problem. Make these smoky, sweet, and spicy Cajun ribs in the oven, and accompany them with double dill pickles to cut through the richness of the meat. They’re the perfect Labor Day centerpiece, but will carry you on through tailgating season too.

Isaac Toups is undeniably one of the most beloved contestants to ever go through “Top Chef.” His early life in deep Cajun country shines through in his restaurants and food, and has been part of his culinary career evolution. He worked under the most celebrated chef in New Orleans, Emeril Lagasse, for more than a decade, and after his TV debut he opened two successful restaurants and published a best-selling cookbook.

Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking, $16.99+ from Amazon

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All this, and his undeniable charm, have positioned him as the pioneer of new Cajun cuisine.

‘New Cajun’ comes through in what he does and how he does it. Understanding the nuances and particularities of the culinary heritage of the Louisiana bayou and Cajun culture, combined with his fine dining experience bring out dishes that feel refreshing and exciting with the legitimacy of a classically trained chef.

As summer comes to an end and we’re all trying to make the best out of our last long weekend, ribs and Cajun sound like the perfect mix. Even better, Chef Toups throws in his double dill pickles as the perfect accent for his beer– and hot sauce-braised ribs. He says this double pickle (as in double-brined) was the first pickle he ever made, under the instruction of his dad. His father claimed he came up with the recipe, but Isaac is skeptical—whatever the case may be, these pickles are now a staple at his home, and the chef says he has them with everything: as a snack, on a burger, and (he highly recommends this) in a bloody Mary.

This dill pickle hack consists of removing your store-bought dill pickles from their jar, pouring the brine in a saucepan, adding brown sugar and hot sauce, bringing to a simmer, and pouring it back into the jar with the sliced pickles—an easy double brine that brings extra sweet and spicy flavor. Refrigerate for at least a day or two and Isaac says you will become addicted to them.

Amazing as they are, the pickles are just an accent for the main dish here: smoky, sweet, and spicy pork baby back ribs—in the words of Chef Toups, “That’s a mouthful!”

Oven Baked Cajun Ribs Recipe

These ribs are easy to make for all of us that don’t have outdoor space or a grill—and become a delicious dish you can make all year round, just using your oven. The ribs get a nice spice blend rubbed into the meat before being seared under the broiler (you can technically do this on the stovetop if needed) and then baked in the oven in a foil pouch filled with beer, honey, and Tabasco sauce. It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to know how good these come out—watch the video above and follow the recipe below to bring some neo-Cajun flavors to your own table.

Spicy, Sweet, and Smoky Oven Ribs with Double-Dill Pickles

View Recipe

See our guide to the best ribs ever for more pointers, and don’t forget to make some perfect BBQ rib sides (just as good with these oven baked beauties).

Even More Grill-Free Options

12 Oven Baked Rib Recipes That Put the BBQ to Shame

Header image courtesy of Isaac Toups

Guillermo is Chowhound's senior video producer, a multitalented film maker and producer, transplanted from Colombia to NYC in 2006. He has developed and produced short and long-form projects, for both commercial and editorial clients for almost a decade, while continuously expanding his body of work in the fine arts field. His work has been seen and published around the world - some of his pieces are part of important contemporary art collections. Follow him on Instagram @guiriveros.
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